Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

Don’t blame the devil
for the evils of man.

Lest We Forget is an award-winning 5-min. live-action short film directed by Brandon McCormick and produced by Whitestone Motion Pictures. Rich in cinematographic beauty, the film is set in a time of mortal combat during the Civil War and follows a lone soldier running away from or towards something; the only clue is a single key in his possession.

Lest We Forget serves as a poignant reminder that nobody lives in vain, and that sometimes someone even manages not to die in vain, even though every victim of every war is an unforgivable sin. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty that has made us free, and let us not be entangled again with the yokes of bondage.

Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

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Zero: A Courageous Yarn of Forbidden Love

Zero: A Courageous Yarn of Forbidden Love

Zero is a highly acclaimed Australian stop-motion animated short film, written and directed by Christopher Kezelos. Zero has screened at over 50 film festivals and won 11 awards, including Best Animation from LA Shorts Fest and the Rhode Island International Film Festival and has been nominated for an AFI Award.

The film follows life in a world of yarn puppets, where the main character is a zero. This is a world in which from birth your destiny is determined by a number boldly displayed on your chest, representing all that you are or can be. 9′s are the elites of this world, and the very lowest you can sink, the untouchables, are cursed as Zero.

The dark fairytale takes place in a world built upon a rigid foundation of social intolerance. In this land of numbered characters, the zeroes endure lives of constant heart-ache, never allowed to have romantic relationships, marry, have children or be parents. Faced with constant prejudice and persecution, one oppressed zero walks a lonely path of disappointment and abuse until a chance encounter changes his life forever: he meets a female zero. Together they prove that through determination, courage and love, nothing can become truly something.

Zero: A Courageous Yarn of Forbidden Love

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Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

On September 11th, 2008, the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, paid honor to Vernon Baker. Baker is the only living African-American to have been awarded the World War II Medal of Honor. Describing Vernon Baker as “the greatest hero you or I will ever meet in our lifetime,” Bernie Dunlap’s voice choked with emotion as the Wofford College President spoke about Vernon Baker in front of a standing-room-only crowd last Thursday at Leonard Auditorium in Wofford’s historic Old Main Building.

Dunlap presented Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, with the college’s third annual Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to a thunderous standing ovation during Wofford’s opening convocation ceremony. Dunlap and Wofford College Dean David Wood also presented Baker, 89, with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and Spartanburg’s Mayor William Barnet followed by giving Baker a key to the city. “It is September 11, and we remember that this is a difficult and challenging world,” Barnet told the crowd. “But we will always remember our heroes, whether they admit they’re heroes or not, and today we honor one.”

Dunlap first learned of Baker’s story by watching an NBC documentary about Baker that was broadcast during last Winter’s Olympics and later reading Baker’s autobiography, Lasting Valor. Baker, has “endured decades of some of the worst this country offered to 20th century black America,” Dunlap said. Baker served in the Army as a lieutenant with the 370th Regiment. On April 5th and 6th, 1945, he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a German mountain strong point on the high ground. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades.

For his service, Baker also earned the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Medal of Honor. However, It took 52 years before those heroics were recognized. Baker, because he was an African-American, was not officially honored for his bravery until 1997 when he and six of his comrades finally received the Medal of Honor from then-President Bill Clinton. Of the group honored by Clinton, Vernon has the only honoree still living.

The Sandor Teszler Award, which was also given to Baker, carries with it a $10,000 gift and honors the late Sandor Teszler, a Jewish immigrant who came to the Carolinas after he and his family were nearly killed by the Nazis during World War II. Teszler, for whom Wofford’s college library is named, was a friend of the college and a textile businessman who was one of the first to desegregate textile mills in the Carolinas. Previous recipients of the Teszler Award have been Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2006, and Paul Farmer, Founding Director of the international charity organization Partners in Health, last year.

Wofford College Honors WWII Hero Vernon Baker

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

NBC Documentary: Vernon Baker Honored after 52 Years

Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), honored Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford presented Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008.

The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award. Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Historical Notes on Wofford College’s Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford College alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its white students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning the college’s plans for integration and withdrawal of financial support for the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

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Vernon Baker Honored: Only Living African-American Awarded WWII Medal of Honor

Vernon Baker Honored: Only Living Black Awarded WWII Medal of Honor

Wofford College Presents Vernon Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), will honor Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford will present The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to Baker and confer an honorary degree during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008. The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award as well as a citation and the honorary degree.

Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Wofford College and the Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning and rejection of the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Overdue

Wofford College Honors Vernon Baker:  WWII Medal of Honor Winner

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

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Barack Obama: A New Sense of Normal.

The American Spectator’s Ezra Klein made these thought-provoking comments about his personal reactions to the historic moment of Barack Obama’s speech that announced winning the Democratic nomination, just in case you might not have read them yet:

“Obama’s speech tonight was powerful, but then, most all of his speeches are. This address stood out less than I expected. It took me an hour to realize how extraordinary that was. I had just watched an African-American capture the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America, and it felt…normal. Almost predictable. 50 years ago, African-Americans often couldn’t vote, and dozens died in the fight to ensure them the franchise. African-Americans couldn’t use the same water fountains or rest rooms as white Americans. Black children often couldn’t attend the same schools as white children. Employers could discriminate based on race. 50 years ago, African-Americans occupied, in effect, a second, and lesser, country. Today, an African-American man may well become the president of the whole country, and it feels almost normal.

It was, to be sure, not entirely unpredicted. On March 31st, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. preached his final Sunday sermon. “We shall overcome,” he said, “because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Four days later, he was murdered. But 40 years later, his dream is more alive than he could have ever imagined. Not only might a Black man be president, but at times, many forget to even be surprised by it.”

More from Ezra Klein’s article can be accessed here.

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Keith Olbermann Slams Hillary Clinton: “Good Night and Good Luck”

Keith Olbermann: Good Night and Good Luck

Olbermann Assails Clinton: A Campaign Enmeshed with Racial Undertones

Last night, Keith Olbermann assailed Hillary Clinton in a ten-minute Special Comment, prefacing his charges by stating that his comments were not to be specifically taken as an endorsement of Barack Obama. Nevertheless, Olbermann felt strongly convinced that observing the course of Clinton’s political campaign, “events [insisted]” that he speak and take a forceful stand against her “tepid response” to the controversial remarks of Geraldine Ferraro, wherein Ferraro had claimed that Obama wouldn’t have been as successful if he were not black.

In an earlier broadcast, Olbermann decried the statements as “clearly racist” and on Wednesday he followed up by accusing Clinton of allowing the opportunity to forcefully oppose Ferraro’s comments pass her by. Olbermann accused Clinton of clearly having “missed a critical opportunity to do what was right.”

While Olbermann did not explicitly say that Clinton’s own beliefs were deeply-rooted in racism, he did claim that her political behaviors were entrenched in bad decisions, embracing bad advice from the “tone deaf” and “arrogant” aides and advisers in her campaign. He characterized Ferraro’s remarks as “a blind accusation of sexism and dismissing Senator Obama’s campaign as some equal opportunity stunt,” and decried her comments both in this instance and historically, pointing to the “cheap, ignorant vile racism that underlines them.”

He blamed her advisers for not pushing her to repudiate those comments immediately, unlike the remark by Obama’s adviser Samantha Power, who had called Clinton a “monster” and who was “gone by sunrise” from the Obama campaign. Olbermann specifically fingered Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams, saying that instead of repudiating Ferraro’s words, “words that should make any Democrat retch,” she had instead let “her campaign manager bend them beyond all recognition into Senator Obama’s fault…thus giving Ferraro nearly a week to [send the dialogue] back into the vocabulary of David Duke.”

People Begin to See Clinton as a Racist

Olbermann took the opportunity to mention a number of other matters, criticizing her also for the “shell-game about choosing Obama as Vice-President,” as well as for her husband Bill Clinton’s comments about Jesse Jackson after the South Carolina primary, the “racial undertone of the 3 a.m. ad” and the “moment’s hesitation” in her much-parsed answer about Obama’s religion on 60 Minutes. He argued that after the ongoing accumulation of events during her campaign, in which racial attitudes had been enmeshed, people now “see a pattern” of racially-tinged remarks and associations with Clinton.” He prudently stopped short of forcefully embracing the belief that Clinton is a racist, but pointed out that, “False or true, they see it.”

Olbermann implored Clinton not to passively sanction being perceived “as standing next to, and standing by, racial divisiveness.” “Grab the reins back from whoever has led you to this precipice before it is too late,” implored Olbermann. “Voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth….your only reaction has been to disagree and call it ‘regrettable’. Unless, Senator, you say something definitive, the former congresswoman is speaking with your approval.”

Olbermann concluded his attack on Clinton’s behaviors by wishing her, “Good Night and Good Luck.”

Keith Olbermann Attacks Hillary Clinton

Edward R. Murrow: Good Night and Good Luck

At a time when the Clinton political campaign appears increasingly to be a force intent upon creating a climate of divisiveness and fear, it is extremely useful for us to recall Edward R. Morrow’s 1954 See It Now special entitled A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy. Murrow’s conclusion to the program was truly magistral:

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Edward R. Murrow: Good Night and Good Luck

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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: A Tribute to Anne Frank

Jeff Mangum: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Ten years ago this month, Jeff Mangum, a songwriter from the Louisiana backcountry, and his broken-down band released what many critics have called one of the few truly great albums of this generation, a musical curiosity that is so gloriously odd that it almost defies explanation. The group called itself Neutral Milk Hotel, and the record, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, is a concept album about Anne Frank.

In an interview given subsequent to the release of Aeroplane, Mangum spoke about how deeply Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl had influenced the record. He explained that upon reading the book for the first time, he found himself completely overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Mangum’s honesty was translated directly to his music, which turned out to be a source of great power.

While the record sells better than ever today, you won’t see Neutral Milk Hotel on a stage anytime soon because, for all intents and purposes, they’ve vanished into thin air. At the end of Aeroplane’s final song, you can hear Jeff Mangum, the band’s all-around mastermind, put down his guitar and walk off. Except for a few months of secluded touring, that’s exactly what Mangum did in real life. When the major labels, glossy magazines and wild fans came crying out for his attention, Mangum never responded. There was no breakup announcement, no reason given for the radio silence, he just faded away. After a decade of speculation, sightings, and hoaxes, his story still remains a mystery: Why did he decide to disappear, and where has he gone?

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank Speaks: A Holocaust Memorial

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