Weekly Update 5.27.19
"Ceremonies are important, but our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well."
Jennifer Mulhern Granholm
Canadian-American politician, lawyer, educator, author, political commentator and member of the Democratic Party who served as the Attorney General of Michigan from 1999 to 2003 and as the 47th Governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011
Memorial Day Origins: Decoration Day
As we observe Memorial Day this Monday, WeCAN Friends, we'd like to share with you some little known information about the origins of the first celebrated "Memorial Day", then called "Decoration Day", celebrated in May of 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. Several towns and cities across America claim to have observed their own earlier versions of Memorial Day or “Decoration Day” as early as 1866, but it wasn’t until a discovery in a Harvard University archive the late 1990s that historians learned about a Memorial Day commemoration organized by a group of freed black slaves less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.
Back in 1996, David Blight, a professor of American History at Yale University, was researching a book on the Civil War when he had a once-in-a-career eureka moment. A curator at Harvard’s Haughton Library asked if he wanted to look through two boxes of unsorted material from Union veterans. “There was a file labeled ‘First Decoration Day' and inside on a piece of cardboard was a narrative handwritten by an old veteran, plus a date referencing an article in The New York Tribune. That narrative told the essence of the story that I ended up telling in my book, of this march on the race track in 1865," said Professor Blight.
The race track in question was the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club in Charleston, South Carolina. In the late stages of the Civil War, the Confederate army transformed the formerly posh country club into a makeshift prison for Union captives. More than 260 Union soldiers died from disease and exposure while being held in the race track’s open-air infield. Their bodies were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstands.
The clubhouse at the Charleston racetrack where the 1865 Memorial Day events took place.
When Charleston fell and Confederate troops evacuated the badly damaged city, freed slaves remained. One of the first things those emancipated men and women did was to give the fallen Union prisoners a proper burial. They exhumed the mass grave and reinterred the bodies in a new cemetery with a tall whitewashed fence inscribed with the words: “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
Then, on May 1, 1865, something even more extraordinary happened. According to two reports that Blight found in The New York Tribune and The Charleston Courier, a crowd of 10,000 people, mostly freed slaves with some white missionaries, staged a parade around the race track. Three thousand black schoolchildren carried bouquets of flowers and sang “John Brown’s Body.” Members of the famed 54th Massachusetts and other black Union regiments were in attendance and performed double-time marches. Black ministers recited verses from the Bible.
Blight excitedly called the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, looking for more information on the historic event.
“‘I’ve never heard of it,’ they told me,” says Blight. “‘This never happened.’”
It was clear from the newspaper reports, though, that a Memorial Day observance was organized by freed slaves in Charleston at least a year before other U.S. cities and three years before the first national observance. How had been lost to history for over a century?
“This was a story that had really been suppressed both in the local memory and certainly the national memory,” says Blight. “But nobody who had witnessed it could ever have forgotten it.”
Once the war was over and Charleston was rebuilt in the 1880s, the city’s white residents likely had little interest in remembering an event held by former slaves to celebrate the Union dead and, in time, the old horse track and country club were torn down. Thanks to a gift from a wealthy Northern patron, the Union soldiers' graves were moved from the humble white-fenced graveyard in Charleston to the Beaufort National Cemetery. By the time Blight was rummaging through the Harvard archives in 1996, the story of the first Memorial Day had been entirely forgotten.
For Blight, it’s less important whether the 1865 commemoration of the “Martyrs of the Race Course” is officially recognized as the first Memorial Day. “It’s the fact that this occurred in Charleston at a cemetery site for the Union dead in a city where the Civil war had begun,” says Blight, “and that it was organized and done by African-American former slaves is what gives it such poignancy.”*+
HAPPENING TODAY, SUNDAY, MAY 26th, 2019
Putney Farmers’ Market 10th Birthday Party/Opening Day
Sunday, May 26th, 2019 outside the Putney Coop (8 Carol Brown Way, Putney, VT, 05346). 11am-2pm.
The Putney Farmers' Market is turning double digits! Come celebrate the Opening Day of our 10th Annual Season! Please stay tuned for more details, but rest assured, there will be cake!
Farmers & Artists gathered on the green in between the Putney Food Coop & the Putney Community Gardens, bringing you the freshest & finest in local goods. Every Sunday from 11-2PM, our Summer Market runs through October 13th.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK, MONDAY, MAY 27th, 2019-SUNDAY, JUNE 2nd, 2019
Perspectives on China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden (157 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 12pm-1pm.
Brian Hammer, SIT Dean for Asia and the Pacific, will explore China’s role in the world with a special focus on the new Belt and Road Initiative (aka the New Silk Road) and the window it provides not only to China’s growing influence, but also anxiety about its power in the world. We’ll also look at US foreign policy, popular culture, and the media.
Union Supported Picket of Former Gov. of Wisconsin Scott Walker in Burlington, VT
Thursday, May 30th 2019. We will meet in Burlington, VT at Battery Park (Battery Park Extension, Burlington, VT 05401) at 5pm and, at 5:30pm, March South to the Hilton Hotel (60 Battery St, Burlington, VT 05401) where Scott Walker will be speaking at a VT Republican Party fundraiser. Protest begins at 5pm. If your Union or community organization would like to endorse this event, or if you have any questions, contact AFSCME Union Rep David Van Deusen at: [email protected].
Scott Walker, the disgraced former Governor of Wisconsin, is rabidly anti-Union. Walker, side by side with our own Governor Phil Scott, will be speaking at a VT Republican Party fundraiser in Burlington, at the Hilton Hotel on Battery Street; labor and other concerned community organizations will be picketing this event.
• While it has not yet been confirmed, we hope and expect a pro-Labor marching band to lead the march;
• We shall picket the Scott Walker event on the sidewalk directly in front of the hotel;
• We shall also rally in the small strip of park directly in front of the hotel and across Battery Street from the sidewalk;
• The tone of the picket will reflect both our anger at the Vermont Republican Party for inviting Scott Walker’s extremist-anti-labor ideology into our state, but will also be a celebration of our power as Union members connected to our communities;
LET’S SEND SCOTT WALKER AND HIS UNION BUSTING WAYS PACKING! CALLING ALL TO THE PICKET LINES!
The Union/Anti-Scott Walker Picket has thus far been endorsed by the following Unions and community organizations: Picket Endorsed By: Vermont State Labor Council AFL-CIO, Vermont Building Trades Council AFL-CIO, Green Mountain Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, AFSCME Local 490 (Bennington County), AFSCME Local 1201 (Rutland & Addison Counties), AFSCME Local 1343 (Chittenden & Franklin Counties), AFSCME Local 1369 (Washington County), AFSCME Local 1674 (Howard Center), AFSCME Local 2413 (Northeast Kingdom), AFSCME Local 3797 (Windsor County), AFSCME Local 3977 (Lamoille County Mental Health), AFSCME Local 4802 (VT Home Healthcare), IBEW Local 300, Laborers' International Union of North America (VT), USW Local 4, AFT-Vermont, United Academics at UVM, Vermont State Employees’ Association, VSEA Chittenden County Chapter, Central Vermont Chapter of the VSEA, Vermont Workers Center, Vermont Labor United, Vermont Woman’s March, Vermonters For A New Economy, Green Mountain John Brown Gun Club, Vermont Progressive Party, Burlington Progressive Party, Vermont House of Representatives Progressive Party Caucus, Vermont Liberty Union Party, Vermont Democratic Party.
Protest Vigil at TD Bank
sponsored by Post Oil Solutions
Friday, May 31st, 2019 (and every Friday) at TD Bank Brattleboro (215 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT). In front of the building. 12pm-1pm. Signs will be provided
TD is a major investor in Tar Sands. TD helps to fund the Dakota Access Pipeline. What You Can Do (besides attending the vigils): If you’re a TD depositor, change banks! Founded in 2005, Post Oil Solutions is a 501c3 community organizing project in Southeastern Vermont whose mission is to help empower the people of the Central Connecticut River Valley bioregion in this era of global warming and climate change to develop sustainable, resilient , collaborative, and socially just communities leading to a self- and community-sufficient post petroleum society.
Coffeehouse Concert by House Blend
to benefit Carry Me Home
Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at Centre Congregational Church (193 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 7pm-9pm. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.carrymehome.org or www.facebook.com/CarryMeHomeWithLove. For more information about House Blend please go to www.houseblend.org. Admission, tea, coffee, and desserts will be by donation. Accessible facility.
On Saturday, June 1 from 7-9 pm, local a cappella group House Blend will present their "Knock-your-socks-off a cappella music from all over" in the parlor of Centre Congregational Church, in a coffeehouse concert to benefit Carry Me Home.
Formed in 2006, House Blend is a self-led a capella chorus of 13 experienced singers dedicated to the music of many cultures and traditions. A democratically governed group of self-professed singing addicts, the “Blenders” look to the artistic direction of all of the members to guide the group, creating a harmonious brew that reflects their diverse musical backgrounds. Together they share a profound love of music and an abundance of talent. Their wide-ranging repertoire includes American folk traditions, spirituals, gospel and hill songs of Appalachia, village music of Italy, France, Quebec, Africa and the Republic of Georgia, as well as Renaissance madrigals, Jewish choral tradition and contemporary Latin chant. Based in Saxtons River, Vermont, the group is committed to sharing the joy of their music with the audience and to excellence in their performances, which include local concerts, benefits, and international exchanges.
Local nonprofit Carry Me Home is all-volunteer organization dedicated to supporting families and individuals fleeing conflict around the world. Founded in 2015 in response to the tragic drowning death of Aylan Kurdi, Carry Me Home has focused on collecting, sorting, and shipping gently used clothing and other basic survival items to partners on the ground, mostly in Greece, who communicate what is needed and supervise distribution to refugees. Over the last 4 years, Carry Me Home have shipped 24,000 pounds of needed items to Europe, from their warehouse in the Centre Congregational Church. In addition, as refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in the Brattleboro area, and in recognition of the ongoing needs of Windham County's low income and homeless populations, Carry Me Home has partnered with Community Asylum Seekers Program, Groundworks Collaborative, and Loaves and Fishes to offer needed items locally.
Pride Family Picnic
hosted by Green Mountain Crossroads
Sunday, June 2nd, 2019 at Living Memorial Park (61 Guilford Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301) at the Kiwanis Pavilion at the top of the hill. 11am-2pm.
The much anticipated PRIDE FAMILY PICNIC hosted by Green Mountain Crossroads is back! One of the only events each year in southern Vermont where LGBTQ parents and kids (of all ages!) come together and get to celebrate the community, visibility, knowledge, and power of LGBTQIA+ people with their families. Bring a dish to share! GMC will provide watermelon, drinks (kid-friendly), hot dogs (meat, turkey, and tofu), buns, and condiments. Find us all the way at the top of Living Memorial Park!
Youth Demand Action on Climate Change!
sponsored by WWAC (Windham World Affairs Council)
Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 at 118 Elliot Gallery (118 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301) from 6pm-8pm. Free. Doors open at 5:30pm. Refreshments will be available. To participate, contact: [email protected] or [email protected]
On June 5, United Nations World Environment Day, come to 118 Elliot and hear student activists from our region, ages 13 to 20, who will share their hopes, actions, and frustrations, get audience feedback and take questions. The event will be facilitated by Dr.Julie Snorek, Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, and Lissa Weinmann, WWAC.
Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish girl who sat every Friday on the steps of the Swedish parliament to protest her government’s inaction on climate change, youth movements have been mushrooming around the world, including in our area.
There will be a training session for the participants on speaking skills and honing one’s message, which Julie Snorek will lead on Sat., June 1st. from 2pm–5pm.
VT Workers’ Center Get Involved Meeting
Thursday, June 6th, 2019 at the Root Social Justice Center (The Whetstone Studio for the Arts, 28 Williams St., Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 6pm-8pm. Light refreshments provided. Families welcome, rides available. Childcare provided on request. For more information or to request a ride or childcare contact [email protected] or Ellen at (802) 257-4436.
Learn about the Vermont Workers’ Center, its Healthcare Is A Human Right campaign, and ways to be involved locally and state-wide. We’ll share our own connections to the struggle for healthcare justice and workers’ rights, and get an orientation to the VWC’s mission, democratic member-run structure, and campaign work.
Join the “ We Celebrate Democracy/Civil Rights for All” Banner in the Strolling of the Heifers Parade
Saturday, June 8th, 2019, Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. Meet at 9:30am in the Church Building Plaza parking lot on Flat Street. Parade starts at 10am sharp. No political signs: The banner will be our political statement. No Dogs are allowed at this event. To volunteer to help Democracy at the Stroll contact Woody or Susan at [email protected] or (802)-464-3154. Please RSVP.
We are proud and we are very, very happy, to have this chance to show off the words on the banner to Stroll watchers. Civil rights are the heart of democracy. Help us stand up for our rights. Thank you to the Stroll for accepting our application. The Stroll guidelines say participants should walk to the Church Lot from Canal to Elm to Flat Street or from Elliot to Elm to Flat Street. Leave plenty of time to walk.
PEOPLE TO MARCH IN THE STROLL PARADE with the banner and carry signs supporting CSAs, local food and local farming. We can have up to 30 people. So, come one and all. Special permission for more. Please RSVP.
8 PEOPLE TO CARRY THE BANNER. The banner is light (about 23 lb.) and easy to carry.
15 PEOPLE TO CARRY SIGNS: We have made 15 two sided signs supporting CSAs, farming, and local food. (Please! No political signs! The banner will be our political statement.) Please get support from your CSA if you bring signs, T shirts etc., with their names on them. We did.
COSTUMES: We need cow costumes. Cow hats. Cow T shirts, etc. You're welcome to DRESS UP AS A COW OR A VEGETABLE!
Please be sure to search on line at 2019 Strolling of the Heifers application guidelines and rules and read the guidelines and rules if you plan to join us in the parade.
Thank you, Woody Bernhard and Susan Kunhardt
WE CELEBRATE DEMOCRACY/CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL, positive nonviolent public action for democracy and equal civil rights for all people
Medicare For All March
Saturday, June 8th, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church (19 Seminary Street, Barre, VT), in the parking lot. Meet at 12pm. Carpools from Windham County: contact [email protected]. Register for the march here.
For more information or to get into a Windham County carpool contact [email protected] or (802) 257-4436. For questions about accommodations call (802) 825-8399 by Friday, May 31.
On Saturday, June 8th the Vermont Workers’ Center is holding for a family-friendly march to protect and expand Medicaid and to stand up for healthcare for all. Meet at noon in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church, 19 Seminary St., Barre.
One in three people in Vermont are on some form of Medicaid (Green Mountain Care) or use a Medicaid-funded service, including half of Vermont's children. Many of us find it hard to get full-time work, and the jobs that exist pay poverty wages with little or no benefits. For many of us, Medicaid has been a lifeline in uncertain times. As healthcare costs rise, the federal government is moving to defund and dismantle Medicaid by allowing states to impose work requirements and other obstacles to enrollment. We need to ensure that that doesn’t happen in Vermont by making our voices heard now!
Farm to Ballet Performance Camp for Kids at Retreat Farm
presented by Ballet Vermont and Retreat Farm
Monday, July 15th, 2019-Friday, July 19th, 2019 at Retreat Farm (45 Farmhouse Square, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 9am-3:30*pm. *Paid aftercare option of 3:30pm-4:30pm for an additional $50. Please go to www.balletvermont.org for performance tickets.
Your camper can dance on the big stage with Farm to Ballet! Campers who participate in this camp will perform the choreography they learn at camp as the pre-show to Farm to Ballet's Retreat Farm show. Camp week will include daily ballet class, farm and garden exploration, activities, and craft. Dancers will work on choreography and craft costumes in addition to other activities to prepare for the big Farm to Ballet performance.
UPRISE Youth Activism Camp (Ages 13-19)
Sunday, July 28th, 2019-Sunday, August 4th, 2019 in Marshfield, VT. For more information please go here: https://www.uprisecampvt.org.
We're inviting youth ages 13-19 to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for one amazing week of teen empowerment, creativity, action, and friendship -- all while strategizing for our collective future. As mentors with a broad spectrum of skills, we are passionate about empowering teens as organizers, change makers, and allies in our rapidly changing world.
The cost of the camp is $450 for the week, but please feel more than welcome to ask us about scholarships. Bring your hopes and fears for the future, your unique style and skills, your passion and ideas -- but most of all, bring yourself, just as you are -- and join us!
Youth interested in attending Uprise! are asked to go through a short application form process. The application will give us an idea of who’s interested in the camp and help our team make this camp accessible and awesome for everyone. There are financial aid questions at the end of the application. You can find information on the application process here.
RESOURCE FOR WeCAN: Rapid Response Text Alert System
When WeCAN began, Song & Solidarity set up a Rapid Response Text Alert System for WeCAN Groups. Directions for signing up are on WeCAN's website, here: https://www.wecantogether.net/rapid_response We were reminded of the Rapid Response text alerts system as President Trump moves towards firing Mueller. In the event Mueller is fired, MoveOn is planning a nation-wide simultaneous protest. The trick will be to get the word out fast if/when the time comes. We are grateful to Song and Solidarity for providing this service.
STANDING REGULAR MEETINGS
Brattleboro State Representatives’ Updates and Community Conversation
First Saturday of the Month, alternating between 10am and 4pm (2.2.19 was at 10am). Location information to follow. Childcare available upon request by contacting [email protected].
As promised, all three of your Brattleboro State Representatives, Mollie Burke, Emilie Kornheiser, and Tristan Toleno, will gather in Brattleboro to host a community conversation and share updates from the first few weeks of the legislative session. Our series of monthly conversations— scheduled for the first Saturday of the month— will alternate between 10am and 4pm.
Women Veterans Weekly Coffee and Tea Social
Thursday Mornings at Brattleboro Legion Post 5 Inc. (32 Linden Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301). 9am-10am.
All female veterans are invited to join in the Women Veterans group coffee held at the American Legion. All women veterans are welcome. You do not need to be a Legion member.
Lost River Racial Justice, Black Lives Matter-South, and People Of Color Caucus Regular Meeting
Reoccurring racial justice organizing meetings every 2nd Monday at The Root Social Justice Center (The Whetstone Studio of the Arts, 28 Williams Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301) on the First Floor. 6pm-8pm. Childcare provided. Fragrance & nut free space.
Youth 4 Change
Meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month from 5:30pm-8pm.
For more information please contact Youth 4 Change at [email protected].
5:30pm: Drop in homework time and art making
6:30pm: Meeting and Organizing
Youth 4 Change is for local-area youth 12-22 interested in political organizing around local/state/national social justice issues that are important to them. Brattleboro area advocates and educators are holding a space, and assisting youth in building a strong personal tool kit to organize for change. Using a variety of creative methods, we aim to enable youth with tools for resilience, courage and compassion, while fostering their ability to speak up about issues that matter to them, and to take action in the name of love and liberation for all people. Come explore issues of racial, economic and gender justice through art, movement, first-hand accounts and contemplative practices. Connect with area youth around the issues that matter to you and strengthen your tool kit for action!
Windham County NAACP Regular Meetings
Monthly community meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at The Root Center for Social Justice (The Whetstone Studio for the Arts, 28 Williams Street, Brattleboro, VT, 05301) on the First Floor from 6pm-7pm. Upcoming Meetings: 3/21/19; 4/18/19; 5/16/19. For more information please email [email protected]. All are welcome.
The meetings are open to anyone interested in racial justice. The Mission of the NAACP is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.
ONGOING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
Sundays at 12pm on Brattleboro Community Radio 107.7FMTo stream live: Visit www.wvew.org
Indigo Radio, deepening understanding and making connections! IndigoRadio is a group of area educators seeking to learn through engaging with others in our community and throughout the world. We will be talking about educational and social issues both globally and locally and connecting them to our lives and Brattleboro community. Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/indigoradiowvew/. For archive recordings of past shows: https://soundcloud.com/user-654648353.
Thank you for your efforts each and every week, Friends. We wish you a safe and restful Memorial Day.