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View Diary: "The Most Persecuted, the Most Ostracized, the Most Condemned Black Man in America, Then or Ever" II (34 comments)

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  •  JekyllnHyde: (4+ / 0-)
    Were you or your parents involved in the Civil Rights Movement?  Did you ever attend a rally? If you met Paul Robeson or one of the leaders mentioned, what are your lasting memories? And even if you've never met any of them, what do you think of their contributions?  Share your thoughts and impressions.
    Two not mentioned: Hosea Lorenzo Williams & Josephine Baker.

     Not "leaders", per se....

    One, who I never met, helped to save my life.  The other, who I did meet, helped save lives-even past their own death.

    I first met Mr. Williams in 1987 in Forsyth County Georgia...telling me to go home because I was on crutches...ice & hatred all around.

    The last time I spoke to him by cell was in late 1998 when he called explaining why he was late meeting me.. due to "being still stuck in the country collecting chickens....." (for the upcoming Feed the Hungry event)

    I was not a familiar-only a small donor/beggar for his Feed the Hungry initiative.  And yet he never failed to act like I was anything else but family. Over ten years, never saw him except in overalls & walking the talk.  No shiny corporate headquarters/office; the extreme opposite.

    To others he may have been colorful.  My eyes & heart first witnessed  homeless men in the hundreds eventually turn into a stadium overflowing with the homeless & hungry getting fed & clothed & tended to.  And Mr. Williams doing whatever he had to do to keep walking the talk.  

    As for Ms. Baker.  Her individual actions- in concert with others both known & unknown- helped move public sentiment on a couple of continents, international policy & ultimately resulted in Acts of Congress (and way too much more to enter here re the whole international back story dance).

    Due in part to the Displaced Persons Act, which allowed three thousand displaced children to enter the U.S. in spite of their countries' immigration quotas, families in the U.S. adopted 1,845 German children and 2,987 Japanese children between 1948 and 1962.  

    (Side note: The Displaced Person Act expired in 1952)

    In 1953 Congress allowed up to 500 special visas for orphans who would be adopted by American servicemen or civil servants of the federal government.

    I was part of the initial 300 impacted by both The Displaced Persons Act & the special visas.

    The Refugee Relief Act of 1953 was subsequently passed, allowing for 4,000 orphan visas over the next three years. Yet this act, combined with the earlier provisions for special visas, was not sufficient to accommodate all the orphans that service members and federal employees wished to adopt.

    In 1957 Congress lifted all numerical quotas from orphan visas, but this action too was limited in time because Congress perceived the need and desire to adopt orphans from other countries as a short-term situation.

    By 1961, the Immigration and Nationality Act incorporated a permanent reference to the emigration of orphans from other countries to be adopted by Americans. (Think how that impacted orphans from Viet Nam on)

    This did not happen in a vacuum; rather through the steadfast efforts of countless faceless ordinary beings and the celebs of the era.  

    For 13 plus years.  The famous & obscure; through actions, deeds, money, voice, time.

    Perchance, through a sense of justice or righteous indignation or fad or empathy or love or compassion...

    Those who tirelessly or just in a fleeting moment of being moved; acted.

    In full on view or quietly behind closed doors.

    Some at great cost.

    Sadly, I did not know of Mr. Robeson until I read this fine diary.  Now, I will share his glory & his cost with my children & grandchildren.  

    Lest we forget.

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