Monday, December 17, 2007

Respectable Negroes of the Week

Rep. Julia Carson dies of lung cancer
Rep. Julia Carson, the first black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died Saturday, a family spokeswoman said. She was 69. Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996. She championed children's issues, women's rights and efforts to reduce homelessness and was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq. She began her political career in the 1960s when then-Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. hired her to work in his office. Jacobs encouraged Carson to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1972 — the first of more than two dozen victories in local, legislative and congressional elections. She ran for Congress in 1996 after Jacobs retired.

Parents Force Charter Takeover of L.A. High School
Locke High School is, by all accounts, among the worst high schools in Los Angeles. It's in Watts, one of the city's most treacherous, gang-infested neighborhoods. The school is overcrowded and on the brink of an academic melt-down. Earlier this year, parents and half of the school's faculty revolted, forcing the school district to do something it has never done before: turn over Locke High to a private group of reformers. When that takeover happens next summer some teachers know they won't be rehired.

Kenya slum dweller gets UK degree
Sammy Gitau was initially refused a visa to attend the UK university as he had only two years of formal education. He grew up in crime-ridden Mathare slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where from the age of 13 he was the family breadwinner after his father's murder. Mr Gitau, 35, once came close to death after a drugs overdose and said it changed his life. "After the drugs put me in a coma, I remember hearing hospital staff telling me I was going to die and when you are dying, you make a deal with God," he said. Mathare is crime-ridden slum in the centre of the Kenyan capital. "You just say, 'Get me out of here and I will do anything. I will go back and stop children going through the same kind of life as me.'" Once out of hospital he started a community resource centre which used donated containers as classrooms and with three volunteers taught children skills like carpentry, tailoring, computer skills and baking. His work brought him to the attention of European Union officials working in Kenya, who, on hearing of his dream, helped him apply to the University of Manchester. Mr Gitau says he will continue to direct his education and his energies at improving life for others in Mathare slum.

Ike Turner, For Better or for Worse,...
... dead at age 76. After arguing with Chauncey for days, I had to admit that Ike did have a huge impact on American music.


gordon gartrelle said...

"Ike did have a huge impact on American music." James Brown and Miles Davis, who were also known to leave footprints on a woman's ass.

Such behavior is obviously deplorable, but I don't see what that has to do with the art(ist). If we had to praise only artists who were great people, there would be no museums.

To put it another way, if "...Prufrock" and "Tristan And Isolde" could have been written by Hitler, they'd still be praiseworthy.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

I totally agree that you can't judge art based on the misbehavior of its creators. Ray Charles was a smack addict who did his friends and women wrong and Johnny Cash gobbled amphetimines like candy while neglecting his children, but that doesn't make me want to listen to Pat Boone or the Osmonds instead.

On the other hand, (and in a slightly different vein) I wonder where art's moral boundaries do in fact exist. What about art used to promote a repressive regime or ideology? I think specifically of Leni Riefenstahl's films, which some admire for their technical achievement but I think are just plain tainted by their use as Nazi propaganda, even if they are more artful than Toby Keith's "The Angry American."