The Diversity Awareness Committee offers information on select events and resources related to issues of inequity, diversity and injustice in the greater Madison area to promote a culturally inclusive learning environment in PLATO. New recommendations will be added on an on-going basis. We welcome your suggestions - contact Committee Co-Chairs Kathy Michaelis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mary Jo McSwain (email@example.com).
"It’s easy to see why they consider books dangerous..." says 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr in his September 29, 2021 Opinion column.
He continues, “Those who ban and burn books seek to ban and burn the courage it takes to grapple with that which might leave you challenged, unsettled or changed.”
Banned Books Week 2021 was at the end of September. Pitts' column appeared in the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, and other news outlets.
DID YOU KNOW?
Is our biweekly feature highlighting the many contributions by non-mainstream individuals you might not have learned or read about. A brief fact will be posted in PLATO's Tuesday WEEKLY UPDATE email and more background on the individual and their accomplishments will be provided here.
DID YOU KNOW? for October 19 - November 1, 2021:
Did You Know...The winner of the 1980 Law and Economics Center Prize was a black man, Thomas Sowell, an economist and social theorist. His book, Knowledge and Decisions, was heralded as a "landmark work," selected for this prize "because of its cogent contribution to our understanding of the differences between the market process and the process of government."
In announcing the award, the Center acclaimed Sowell, whose "contribution to our understanding of the process of regulation alone would make the book important, but in reemphasizing the diversity and efficiency that the market makes possible, [his] work goes deeper and becomes even more significant." Friedrich Hayek wrote: "In a wholly original manner [Sowell] succeeds in translating abstract and theoretical argument into highly concrete and realistic discussion of the central problems of contemporary economic policy." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Sowell)
Click here for a review of recent DID YOU KNOW? articles.
Come back on November 2nd for our next DID YOU KNOW? feature!
by Linda Hervieux
The injustices of 1940's Jim Crow America are brought to life in this extraordinary blend of military and social history--a story that pays tribute to the valor of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributors at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation’s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II.
Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men charged with an extraordinary mission, whose contributions to one of the most celebrated events in modern history have been overlooked. Members of the 320th—Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, the son of sharecroppers from rural Virginia; William Dabney, an eager 17-year-old from Roanoke, Virginia; Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio—and thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens—experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.
In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.
Harper Collins, 2015 (Available through Madison Public Library)
An urgent primer on race and racism, from the host of the viral hit YouTube series, "Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man". Emmanual Acho as both video host and author takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, that many white Americans are afraid to ask - yet questions which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever.
Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho started his online video series to give white people a non-judgmental space to ask questions about race and racism. "You cannot fix a problem you don't know you have" says Acho. “There is a fix,” he feels, “But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”
A 2021 New York Times Bestseller and Amazon Editors' Pick: Best History
One of today's most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn --racism has a cost for everyone-- not just for people of color.
In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'M STILL HERE is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is a 2018 memoir by Austin Channing Brown. The book became a bestseller during the mid-2020 resurgence of national interest in racial injustice following the George Floyd protests.
by Ibram X. Kendi, Published by One World, 2019
Kendi is a on a mission to push those of us who believe we are not racists, who support ideas and policies affirming that the “the racial groups are equal in all their apparent differences—that there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group”. This is a 21st century manual of racial ethics.Kendi is also the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, 2017.
New York Times Bestseller
DID YOU KNOW? - our biweekly feature highlighting the many contributions by non-mainstream individuals you might not have learned or read about. A brief fact will be posted in PLATO's Tuesday WEEKLY UPDATE email and more background on the individual and their accomplishments will be provided here.
DID YOU KNOW? for October 5 - 19, 2021:
Did You Know...Maria Tallchief was the first Native American woman to break into ballet. Elizabeth Marie Tallchief was born in 1925 in Oklahoma; her father was a member of the Osage Nation. At 17, she moved to New York City to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer.
Maria Tallchief went from dance company to dance company looking for work. Many discriminated against her because of her Native American ancestry. She was eventually selected as an understudy in the Ballet Russe, the premier Russian ballet company in the USA. In 1942, when one of the lead ballerinas abruptly stepped down, Tallchief was called to stand in. Her performance received positive reviews from top critics. As her career began to take off, many tried to persuade her to change her last name so that dance companies would not discriminate against her. She refused and continued to perform as Maria Tallchief. In 1947, after marrying choreographer George Balanchine, she became the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet - a title that she would hold for the next 13 years. She became the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and perform at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.
Prior to her death in 2013 Maria Tallchief received a Kennedy Center Honors, was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
For further reading: https://www.biography.com/performer/maria-tallchief
DID YOU KNOW? for September 21 - October 4, 2021:
Did You Know... Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic crossed the finish line to become the first person with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. Guinness World Records recognized Nikic's achievement after he finished a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-marathon run at the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach in November 2020.
DID YOU KNOW? for September 7 - 20, 2021:
Did You Know...Yang See, who worked as the main liaison between the CIA and the Lao Royal Army during the secret Hmong Guerrilla war against North Vietnam, was the person most responsible for the US Government finally accepting the Hmong resettlement in the US.
Initially, the US took the position that the Hmong were “too uneducated/primitive” to be successfully assimilated into US culture, even though this belief was without merit. This made it very difficult for the Hmong to “escape” the refugee camps they had fled to in Thailand. Yang Lee, who was fluent in many languages, was successful in getting the State Department to change its misguided policy.
DID YOU KNOW? for August 24 - September 6, 2021:
Did You Know - Hamdi Ulukaya, born in Ilic, Turkey, is a businessman, activist and philanthropist who founded and owns the company Chobani, the #1 selling strained yogurt in the US. He was born to a dairy farming Kurdish family and immigrated to the US in 1994 to study English and take business courses.
Mr. Ulukaya is very serious about Kurdish rights and left Turkey due to the oppression of the Turkish state’s oppression of its Kurdish minority.
In addition to founding Chobani, heis also the chairman and CEO. His net worth was almost $2.0 billion (2019). On 26 April 2016, Ulukaya announced to his employees that he would be giving them 10% of the shares in Chobani
Visit Hamdi Ulukaya - Wikipedia for further reading.
DID YOU KNOW? for August 10 - 23, 2021:
Did You Know ANNETTE FRANQUI, the new Board Chair of the AARP Board of Directors, is the first Hispanic to fill that role.
Annette Franqui joined the AARP Board in 2014. As Board Chair she also Chairs the AARP Board Governance Committee and Compensation Committee
Annette Franqui is a founding partner of Forrestal Capital, a company that provides wealth management and direct equity investment advice to a select number of families in Latin America. A native of Puerto Rico, she is a senior financial services executive with prior CFO experience as well as 15 years on Wall Street with JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
For more about Annette Franqui, see: https://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/board-of-directors/info-2016/annette-franqui.html
DID YOU KNOW? for July 27 - August 9, 2021:
Mario Jose Molina-Pasquel Henriquez (known as Mario Molina), Mexican chemist, was the first Mexican-born scientist to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his role in discovering the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon gases.
Dr. Molina held research and teaching positions at various renowned universities in the US and at the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 8, 2013. https://en.wikipedia.org (search for Mario Molina)
DID YOU KNOW? for July 13 - 26, 2021:
Effie Waller Smith, a black woman with Wisconsin ties, was an early twentieth-century poet known for her books of poetry, Songs of the Months (1904), Rhymes from the Cumberland (1909), and Rosemary and Pansies (1909).
Effie has only recently been recognized as a poet who, not only revered her Appalachian home and its landscapes, but “pushed readers to reconsider and perhaps reject hierarchies of race, class, gender and place.” She expressed both feminist and environmental awareness and addresses both racism and classism as well.
DID YOU KNOW? for June 29 - July 12, 2021:
Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who patented peanut butter, (US Patent #306727) was an African-American chemist from Canada. Edson developed the idea of peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious food for people who had difficulty chewing solid food, a common issue in those days.
Edson was awarded his patent in 1884. His cooled product had "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment" according to his patent application. He included the mixing of sugar into the paste to harden its consistency. The patent described a process of milling roasted peanuts until the peanuts reached "a fluid or semi-fluid state."
Interested in more?
Marcus Gilmore Edson (Wikipedia bio): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcellus_Gilmore_Edson and
Who invented peanut butter: https://www.nationalpeanutboard.org/peanut-info/who-invented-peanut-butter.htm
DID YOU KNOW? for June 15 - 28, 2021:
The inventor of laser cataract surgery was Dr. Patricia Era Bath, a black American ophthalmologist and inventor. She holds patents in Japan, Canada and Europe.
Dr. Bath's invention was called the Laserphaco Probe (1986). “Harnessing laser technology, the device created a less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts.” Bath received a patent for the device in 1988, becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." She was also the first African-American woman to serve on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center.
Interested in more? https://www.biography.com/scientist/patricia-bath