Oct 30 2010

A Defining Musical Moment

A little while ago, Robert Reid Gillies posted a challenge on Facebook for friends to list 15 albums in 15 minutes which they felt would stay with them forever.  I’ve thought about this a few times since, and an album that never made my list came to mind.

When I was 16, we all piled into our ’66 Ford and took a drive.  (We did this fairly often; Mom liked to just take a ride, no destination, no reason.)  A local rock station in Spokane had advertised that they would play the about-to-be-released ‘rock opera’ by The Who. Tommy.  In its entirety.  Mom agreed to tune it in, and so we listened on our lo-fi AM single-dashboard-speaker radio.  I leaned forward from the middle of the back seat and craned my neck and ears.  By the time Roger Daltrey sang ‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me’ with just Pete Townshend strumming those sweet chords and the boys in the band doing their choir bit in the background, the tears were streaming down my face.  Me, a 16-year-old American male, in the presence of my whole family, weeping uncontrollably.

Now, I had been listening to music all my life.  My dad had a Master’s degree in music, and was partial to twentieth-century classical music and jazz.  Mom was into big bands and folk songs and great singers like Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, and had been turned on to the Beatles as soon as she heard them.  So I was listening to Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Sergei Prokoffiev, the Clancy Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Burl Ives, The Beatles, Glenn Miller. . . well, you get the idea.  Watching Hullabaloo and Sing Along With Mitch and Hee Haw and The Monkees and whatever other musical shows we could get on our TV.  But I can’t remember music ever making me cry before that outing with Tommy.   I think that was the moment I really decided to learn how to play guitar.  Maybe write songs and sing them.  There have been many times since when some piece of music has brought me to tears.  The first time I actually watched an Italian opera (it was Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor).  The unutterable beauty of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt’s close harmonies in their Trio album.  Eddie Vedder achingly wonderful in a quiet moment with ‘Just Breathe’ (on Pearl Jam’s Backspacer, of which I have already spoken highly).   Many other times also.  But it was on the back seat of the family Ford that I discovered it was possible to be transported by a piece of art in such a way that I could not control my emotions, and that it was allowed.  If any artist has a higher aspiration, I surely am not aware of it.


Jul 28 2010

More Expert Indians, Less ‘Indian Experts’

-Beverly Pigman, Chair, Navajo Institutional Review Board

Up until a few decades ago,  Maternal Child Health research in Indian country was conducted almost exclusively by white men.  Ironic, but of course that was true of pretty much all epidemiological research.  My wife Leslie was one of a generation of Indian women to begin making changes in the complexion of the field.  She is back in Rapid City, South Dakota this week, presenting at the annual Indian Health Service/Native Research Network conference in the city where she was co-principal investigator for the Aberdeen Area Infant Mortality Study, initiated almost twenty years ago.  (Leslie is also a founding member of the NRN.)  I have been a witness to the resistance she and her Native colleagues encountered when they presented and advocated for new, more culturally appropriate and sensitive methods of public health research, outreach and education in Indian Country.

Some resistance to new ideas and new players is to be expected, especially at the beginning of changing times.  Entrenched old-boy networks are threatened by new ideas and those who have them.  This has always been the way.  But it’s really a shame that individuals who claim to share the goal of improving the health of the people can’t just carry on and recognize that there is enough space in the field for other ideas, and get out of the way.  Of course, that would presume that these people are not also in it to be The Leaders.  It’s also a shame that after decades, some of these white men are still unwilling to relinquish their ascendancy in the face of another approach.  –How dare these natives assume they know how to study their population better than I, with my superior education and intellect?– Do people still think this way?  I am forced to believe they do.

But ‘We’re on the same team’ seems to be a difficult concept for some younger researchers, too.  Now that more Natives and more women are represented in the work, some of the new generation of researchers feel the need to supplant those who were the pioneers in Native epidemiological research, rather than work beside them or blaze their own trail.  This year Leslie and a young man from an eastern tribe were elected co-chairs of the Native Research Network.  There might be a message.  We’re well into a new century.  Welcome.  Perhaps it’s time to break old repeating cycles, and just get the work done, together.


Jun 23 2010

A Couple of Songs I Wish I’d Written

I’ve been listening to these songs for a while now, and they just don’t wear out.

The first is from Pearl Jam, whose Backspacer album was released last September.  I have been fascinated with this band since moving to Lapwai and listening mostly to the local hard rock radio station at work, and getting a good second listen to most of the Seattle bands in the process.  The first single from Backspacer was a rocker called ‘The Fixer’, which had me from the first riff.  It’s joyous.  Yup, and from Pearl Jam.   Then a heartbreaking beauty called ‘Just Breathe’.  This one I first heard soon after Calvin passed away, and my sister-in-law Sue Seven was in the hospital, later to die of a pulmonary infection.  I never shared the song with her husband Ed Levene or with Leslie; I feared it would be too painful.  This disc is full of songs about love, aging, being a friend, loss, acceptance, sometimes all at once.  The band has never sounded better:  rock-solid rhythm section,  Vedder’s impassioned vocals (and you can hear the words), guitars flying high, and the acoustic moments that can take the breath away.  But the one I wish I’d written is called ‘Amongst the Waves’.  It, too,  makes me weep.

Amongst The Waves
Artist: Pearl Jam
Composer: Pearl Jam

What used to be a house of cards
Has turned into a reservoir
Saved the tears that were waterfalling
Let’s go swim tonight, darling

& Once outside the undertow
Just you & me & nothing more
If not for love I would be drowning
I’ve seen it work both ways, but I am up

Riding high amongst the waves
I can feel Like I
Have a soul that has been saved
I can feel like I
Put away my early grave

Gotta say it now
Better loud
Than too late

Remember back the early days
When you were young & thus amazed
Suddenly the channel changed
The first time you saw blood

Cut to later, now you’re strong
You’ve bled yourself, the wounds are gone
It’s rare then where is nothing wrong
Survived & you’re amongst the fittest
Love ain’t love until you give it up

Riding hi amongst the waves
I can feel like I
Have a soul that has been saved
I can see the light
Coming through the clouds in rays

Gotta say it now
Better loud
than too late

My other new favorite (favorite new?)  song is from a young band I know next to nothing about, an Australian three-piece called Sick Puppies.  (I Know!) This is from their second album, called Tri-Polar. Most of their stuff is quite aggressive hard rock,  so when this one came on the radio, opening with one of the sweetest bass riffs in ages, and then the line ‘Odd one, you’re never alone. . .’  Well, the whole thing works for me on just about every level.

(Just follow the link to the vid — EMI disallows embedding.  Available concert videos were just too low quality.)

Odd One

Odd one, you’re never alone
I’m here and I will reflect you
Both of us basically
Unattached to anything or anyone unless we’re pretending
You live your life in your head
Some call it imagination
I’d rather focus instead on anything except
What I’m feeling
What I’m feeling
Odd one….

Hey, it’s gonna be okay
Hey, we’re gonna laugh at this one day

Odd one, I wish I was you
You’re never concerned with acceptance
We are all desperately seeking out, and fitting with anyone
Who will accept us
But not you, odd one

Hey, It’s gonna be okay
Hey, gonna laugh at this one day

Don’t let someone tell you you’re no-one
Don’t let someone tell you you’re no-one
Odd one…


Jun 12 2010

In Lieu of an Anniversary Card

In the first light I had to smile

when I turned my head to see you sleeping there.

Took a long long night and a million miles

for that sun to reach out and touch you.

As it filters through the trees

and mocks the morning breeze

and plays its golden fingers through your hair,

I want to laugh,

I want to fly,

take the reins of the wind in my hands.

I want to wake you,

I want to take you

to where the cold and the dark are a foreign land,

and dance upon the morning.

When you wake up and meet my gaze,

will you smile at me to see me smile at you?

Took a long long night and longer days

for my heart to finally reach out and touch you.

There’s so much I have to share.

Can you feel it in the air?

Darling, I have seen the morning dancing through your hair.

Do you want to laugh?

Do you want to fly,

take the reins of the wind in your hands?

I want to wake you,

I want to take you

to where the cold and the dark are a foreign land,

and dance upon the morning.

“Dance Upon the Morning”  c 1976 Lyrics by Liam Randall and Kurt Asplund

Twenty-two years ago yesterday Leslie and I married in Spalding Park, which is about 4 miles from the house we bought about 3 and a half years ago.  (“Twenty-two years,”  she said.  ”Seems a lot longer.”  Then she looked at me sideways and we both laughed.)  So I’ve been thinking about the time and what it feels like to me.  I’ve noticed that sometimes when you settle into something, it feels like it’s always been that way.  And that’s what it feels like to me, as though that’s the way it’s always been.  So if I were to say it,  it would sound like the old joke.  But yeah.  It feels like, well, forever.   So thank you, honey, for marrying me.  It feels like forever.


Jan 9 2010

Thoughts on Marriage and Love and Intimacy

If you have been married awhile, you might understand this one.  If not, you might wonder what the fuss is about, or at least think me a bit, well, odd.

A few years ago I attended the 60th wedding anniversary celebration for Cecil and Essie Carter.  Cecil’s speech began something like this:  ”People ask me, what’s your secret?  How have you stayed married for so long?  I tell them:  I do whatever she wants.”

Now,  Essie is a formidable woman.  So,  no doubt, there is some truth to it.  My wife Leslie is also formidable.  She loves fiercely.  She makes me want her to be happy, and happy with me.  So I feel the truth in Cecil’s words too.  But.

This morning I made Leslie the breakfast she usually prefers,  Zoom whole-wheat cereal with chopped almonds and pecans, brown sugar and milk.  For myself I made a sort-of-fritter with leftover mashed potatoes, eggs, shredded cheddar, and mushrooms sauteed in butter and a little Jamaica-me-Crazy garlic salt.  It was very tasty.  Mostly because Leslie bought the mushrooms just for me.  See, she really hates mushrooms.  Evan too.  So I’m the only one in the house who will eat them.  But she went to Valley Foods the other day and they were having a 24-hour sale, and she bought a load of fruit and veggies, and the mushrooms.

I do stuff for Leslie.  I spoil her, everyone says so.  Sometimes when I do something for her, she will say “I love you”. You know, in that voice.  That’s not really what I did it for, and it’s not really why she loves me, but it’s nice.  Lately I’ve been thinking that it’s the little things that bring it home.

Most nights when we’re getting ready for bed, Leslie will hand me a pair of her most comfortable socks and proffer her feet.  And I will put the socks on her, not too tight around the toes, so her feet will stay warm when she kicks off the covers, I think.  I’ve been thinking about this little intimacy for quite awhile, and about what it represents for us.  It almost seems too intimate to share with everyone, and I hope she doesn’t mind.  I’ve learned to say “I love you” often, and I mean it when I say it.  But this little ritual with the socks–well, if you’ve been married for awhile, maybe you already know.

So my breakfast this morning was particularly delicious, especially the mushrooms, because when Leslie bought them, she was saying, “I love you”.  You know.  In that voice.


Oct 27 2009

About The Deer

About the deer. Well, on the way home from 
Portland 2 weeks ago, I was driving my old 
pickup and hit a deer on the highway between 
Tri-cities and Waitsburg. The radiator was 
destroyed. Thank heavens I had towing on the 
insurance and got towed into Dayton (closest 
town with a mechanic in the phone book) and then 
spent Monday finding a radiator I could make fit,
new belts, and hoses I could adapt. I got back 
home Monday night, and had to order a new water 
pump because the impact had apparently damaged 
the bushing and it howled all the way home. Our 
dear friends Greg and Bahi Hansen had loaned us 
a little Geo Metro for Cal to use, and since it gets 40 mpg I have been 
driving it mostly.

So, I'm driving the Geo to PDX Friday night with the 3 dogs, Evan, and
a nephew of Leslie's who needed a ride to Troutdale, and just outside
Pomeroy I hit another deer, this time a big buck. Fortunately, the car
was so low to the ground and the deer was so big that it bounced off the
hood (taking a mirror, the left-turn signal light and a wiper with it and
cracking but not breaking the windshield, not to mention crumpling some
sheet metal), mortally wounding the buck but leaving the inner workings
of the car absolutely intact. The sheriff's deputy said I should be a
hunter.  Unfortunately, we don't get to take road kill home. Oh well.

The reason we were going to Portland in the first place was to celebrate
my 57th birthday with the family.  Ed and Munir took us to Pok Pok, on
Division between 32nd and 33rd, which serves Thai street cuisine.  This
was outrageously delicious. It was a lovely birthday celebration.  And
Justin, a friend of Calvin's who was also at his funeral, works there.
Another connection.  Cal would have loved the place and the evening.
Perhaps he did.

Evan, the dogs and I got home late Sunday night, exhausted but safe
and sound.  No more deer.  For the moment.  We left Leslie in
Portland one more time.  She's been keeping vigil for her sister Sue,
who has been in hospital with pneumonia for three weeks.  She misses
home.  We miss her.  It looks like Sue is finally improving.  Her
color is good; she is better able to communicate; she has the
energy to fret and worry and be scared.  Maybe now Leslie can
come home and feel OK about it.
Maybe soon things will begin to turn around.  Maybe they are already
beginning to.  I sometimes look up and think something like, 'Cal,
here's to you. To life. L'chaim.'  Something like that.  Or, 'Hey.
What ya think? OK?'  Or something like that.

Continue reading


Oct 8 2009

Calvin

O Holy Lord!  O Lord of loving-kindness!  We stray about thy dwelling, longing to behold Thy beauty, and loving all Thy ways.  We are hapless, lowly, and of small account.  We are paupers:  show us mercy, give us bounty; look not upon our failings, hide Thou our endless sins.  Whatever we are, still are we Thine, and what we speak and hear is praise of Thee, and it is Thy face we seek, Thy path we follow.  Thou art the Lord of loving-kindness, we are sinners and astray and far from home. –’Abdu’l-Bahá

We buried our eldest son a week ago.  He was 28 years old, and had been ill for a week.  He passed away suddenly but peacefully.  This post will be the first of several, as I gather and collect my thoughts, now that I’m finally able.

Cal came to stay with us on the Nez Perce Reservation this spring after an unsuccessful job search in Portland, Oregon.  He was hired by the Clearwater River Casino and Resort, a Tribally-owned enterprise, and eventually was on a full-time schedule as a cook.  Thus began a long-awaited turnaround:  after the breakup of his marriage and a few years of severe depression, Calvin was expressing happiness.  He hung out with his little brother Evan (who was home with him when he died); he talked with his mother often; and she was able to be with him.  He felt needed.  His boss really liked him and his work.

Then, suddenly, he was gone.  Cousins were here within minutes.  The Rez community knows what it’s like to lose loved ones too soon, and they don’t want anyone to go through it alone.  The Bahá’is were not far behind.

Then we found what an impact Calvin had on his friends.  He had toured for three years with the Wildfire Dance Theatre, a troupe of young Bahá’is in Canada, who hailed from not only Canada and the United States, but also Spain, New Zealand, Iran, France, Scotland, Japan. . .  He met his wife in Wildfire.  The experience generated many deep and lasting friendships, which became apparent to us when the tributes began flooding in.  Some of these friends we had met and come to love; others were new to us, but they all wrote of his loving generosity, his desire to serve, his quiet steadfastness and unifying influence.  They initiated a 24-hour prayer circle, in which friends all around the world participated.  Some of them came for the funeral from Saskatoon, Calgary, and Toronto.  The tributes of many others were read at the funeral.

This is where Facebook becomes a really powerful tool.  Leslie kept in communication with everyone, pretty much in real time.  I’m still amazed.  I guess this is how she kept herself together, but the fact is that I am in awe of her strength throughout this whole time.  She would feel rage or extreme grief or guilt and would go pray.  In a few minutes she would be back doing what needed to be done.  I’ve managed to function by keeping busy, but I’ve spent a good amount of time just kind of feeling lost.  I can’t imagine really what is going on with Evan.  He and his brother Edward are going through Cal’s few belongings; together they chose songs for a CD compilation Ed made as part of the funeral program.  In his death, Calvin has brought out good things in us.  This by itself is a good legacy.


May 20 2009

Randall Ellenwood, part 2

All this morning, the more I thought about it, the madder I was getting.  I’m calmer now.  But here is a hypothesis.  An eyewitness reports having watched a Nez Perce tribal policeman being beaten up by a couple of unarmed white men on private property outside Tribal jurisdiction.   He asserts further that the officer pulled out his service pistol and shot both of them, one fatally.  What do you think happens next?

I can guarantee that if you ask this question to anyone with brown skin in Lapwai, Kamiah or Lewiston, they will answer that the cop would be brought up on charges within hours, and his name would be broadcast over all the media within a day.  We must hope never to have to test this hypothesis.

I understand that the FBI is now conducting a criminal investigation (according to the Lewiston Tribune).  I understand that ISP is conducting an internal administrative investigation to discern whether the (unnamed) state trooper “followed proper procedures”.

This I also understand: people on The Rez are afraid to drive on their own highways for fear that they too could be pursued and possibly harmed or even killed by a policeman who might be just looking for a reason.  Is this fear unjustified?  Maybe, maybe not.  But I believe there is only one way that it is even possible for any good to come out of this affair.  The unnamed Idaho State Policeman who killed Randall Vernon Ellenwood and gravely wounded Ricardo Daniel Rodriguez must be named as defendant in a criminal trial.  There are eyewitnesses.  There is evidence.  (If the police didn’t irrevocably compromise the scene tramping all over it while they waited for the Feds, that is.)  Yes, the witnesses will be less than objective.  I doubt anyone connected to this case is objective.  But even if the ISP finds the trooper did not “follow proper procedures” and just carries out an “internal” disciplinary action, never naming the officer or publicly stating their findings (in other words, buries it), or if the FBI finds “insufficient evidence” and rides off, we will never get the whole story.  Let him have his day in court.  Let the families of these men know that everything has been done to find the truth about their ordeal.   Let this community know that its authorities believe in equal treatment under the law.  Let every officer of the law know that there will be consequences for use of deadly force against unarmed defendants, and they’d better be very sure of their boundaries.  Let everyone in a position of power be certain that they will not get away with abusing it.

I don’t know.  That looks pretty close to impossible to me.  I’m not sure I believe, for instance, that our authorities do believe in equal treatment.  I think some are a bit more equal than others in the eyes of too many of our appointed guardians.  The rest?  Prove it, and prove all of us wrong.  I promise I’ll be delighted to admit it.


May 20 2009

Randall Ellenwood

Monday evening, around 5:30 P.M., Randall Vernon Ellenwood and Ricardo Daniel Rodriguez were shot by an Idaho State trooper after a reported traffic violation, chase and “confrontation”.  Ellenwood died at the scene and Rodriguez remains in critical condition at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.   As both men were Nez Perce Tribal members and the incident occurred on the Nez Perce Reservation, The FBI was called in as lead investigative agency.  All this we know from reports by KLEW-TV, The Lewiston Tribune, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Spokane’s  KREM-TV, whose exclusive interview with a witness gives more detailed information, and the only info that is not the official FBI line.  I know a little more, because my wife Leslie is a close friend of Vern’s wife Arleen Henry and was called to her side not long after the shooting. They waited for the agents to process the scene until about 3:45 A.M., when the body was finally released.

This is an opportunity for the Agency to generate a full and independent investigation and report of the shooting.  Nobody knows better than FBI how hostilities can escalate after incidents like this, and the community not only will demand, but will deserve, a complete accounting.

At least three questions will have to be answered.  First: were the suspects armed?  Everyone who knows Vern and Arleen (whose pickup Vern was driving), as well as every witness, already knows the answer to this one.   Second:  Why was the ISP trooper unaccompanied by Tribal police?  This was, as I understand it, their jurisdiction.  I believe this was also the subject of the dispute between the men and the trooper.  Third: whether or not Vern broke the law (which is entirely separate from this discussion), did either of these slightly-built and unarmed men ever pose a real threat to the life of the trooper, such that he was justified in using deadly force?  Was Vern just guilty of DWI (Driving While Indian)?  These are questions (except, of course, the first one, to which everyone knows the answer) which I assure you are being asked all over The Rez, and which, if they are not answered truthfully, completely and respectfully, will eventually fester, eroding even further the relations between the Indian and white communities, not to mention between the Indians and law enforcement agencies.

This is a reservation, where everyone pretty much knows everyone else.  They know things about each other that they often would probably rather not.  They also know when they are not getting the whole story.   I urgently recommend to Special Agent Juan Becerra that he make very sure, and with as little delay as possible, that they–that we all–get the whole, unvarnished, un-spun, absolutely unedited story.  Because memories can be long about these things.  Because everybody has a lot more to lose if you are not completely up front with us.  Because, God damn it, we deserve better.


Feb 14 2009

Geezerhood, Part Two

So today is my dad’s eighty-first birthday. He says I don’t qualify as a geezer yet: “but not yet in the geezer range” is how he puts it. I must defer to him for a few obvious reasons, but for other obvious reasons I will continue the conceit, if you will (or if you won’t, for that matter). For one thing, I’m finding it increasingly fun to think about the company an aging musician keeps. And, perhaps, the audience an aging musician keeps. You may have noticed that so far this blog’s links to musicians all lead to people over 50. I do say “so far”–after all, it’s SongsForGrownups, not SongsForGrandparents. But really, there must be a reason so many musicians never really retire.

Anyway, one of my father’s accomplishments is a master’s degree in music. He exposed me very early to Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky, Vaughan-Williams and Aaron Copland, and to John Coltrane and Harry Belafonte. (Mom was there with Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Burl Ives, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel.) He is also a poet. In the seventies I was moved to put one of his poems to music, which will be my next offering. Purely by coincidence, the lineup is the same as “Aurora’s”, with Gary on tenor this time. The poem is the first in a group that Dad wrote in 1969-70, called “John Trover”. Herewith, by permission of the author, I present them.

John Trover

by Rowell Hoff

1.Trover Dies

Citywalking sharp of edge downtown—
It hurts to touch eyes;
if eyegates were opened would all of us drown,
rushing down-drain to die?

Laserlancet glances, meeting, million their power.
An instant’s too much!
The iron bubble-surface collapses, the sour
selfwomb waters gush.

John Trover, doomed to citywalk all his days
unto his death,
came to love beggars and followed them always.
A beggar never neglects

to greet a passing stranger. After a time
the beggars tired of him.
Wordless, they would take his dime,
turning away their eyes.

After Trover’s death of loneliness,
beggars robbed him.
He’d have been glad for such forgiveness.
Streetsweepers found the body.

2.The Myth of John Trover

Trover tired of pushing a trash of moments up each day
to crash with him sleeping to bottom of the next,
and stopped. Imagine his dismay
to find himself again at the top of sunset falling down nights alone
over and over. He screamed for mercy.

‘You chose to be a stone,’ said Sisyphus,
‘What rights has a stone?’

3. John Trover’s Toy

It danced on a string, golden as the sun;
moreover, it was an astonishing unique machine,
potentially able to —
But Trover let them prick its skin
In exchange for their sending the loneliness away.
Even then the reduced dream
was privately beautiful and useful in small ways.
He used it to measure the passage of years,
secretly planning to put it right with patches
and sometime to inflate it with his breath.
Contemplating it one day,
he let it slip from his hand
to the hard ground.
It won’t run any more
and cannot be repaired.

4. Trover Alone

John Trover was admiring the sunset. He thought
of running to the house to bring the others out.
They wouldn’t come, and it was night already
when he returned.

He sent a letter about it to a friend.
The letter was returned unwritten.

5. Trover Blest

Trover cut open his heart
and gazed at the chambers within
to gauge the extent of his hurt.

A hundred dead bodies were there.
They murmured, ‘It’s you that we love!’
but Trover destroyed them with fire.

In spite of the pain he probed on.
A mirror was hid in the dark.
He cleaned it and prayed for the sun.

He turned to easts and horizons,
followed winds, drowned in oceans,
searched rivers to the source.
He lay in a desert dying. It was then
his mirror caught the light of noon.

This is how Trover was raised from the dead.

It would be nice to come back to these and put the rest to music–who knows?

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After President Obama’s election, my dad and stepmother Carol were the subject of an item in China Daily.  (Oh, I forgot to mention that they live in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.  It’s in the article.)  I’ll let you read that too, because it tells a bit about them, and indirectly about Dad’s influence on me and my attitudes about the world.

Hope for a better tomorrow

By Patrick Whiteley (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-10

Cool to be American again

Eighty-year-old English teacher Rowell Hoff and his wife Carol live in Inner Mongolia and like thousands of US expats, were closely tuned into the elections last week. The couple say they were greatly pleased with the historic outcome because of the ramifications.

Rowell says the election result is a giant step in the development of true equality in the United States.

“Sixty years ago, in any of a large number of states, black citizens were prevented from voting,” he says.

“Even after the partial successes of the civil rights movement in the third quarter of the 20th century, it would have been difficult to imagine that this day would come at any foreseeable time.

“But it has happened now.”

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(Just follow the above links to get to the rest.  )