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Birthday, 2022

February 8, 2022 pm28 2:52 pm

It was my birthday Friday. Not much of a day, and no real celebration. I was wrapping up scheduling, and preparing myself for the new term.

In my morning classes I recognized the day before I was born, Freedom Day, February 3 1964, when almost half a million students boycotted NYC schools to demand integration. Big win, right? Wrong. They got a study and maybe a promise of a commission and then nothing. The talking heads in the video below, actual participants in the boycott, discuss that NYC schools were more segregated in 1964 than ten years earlier when Brown v Board became the law of the land. Well, NYC schools are more segregated today than in 1964. Here’s the clip I showed:

I remembered Freedom Day last year, too. I still am flabbergasted that this huge Civil Rights action in New York City is not a required subject/topic in our schools’ history courses. It is safe for New Yorkers to rail about segregation and voter suppression and slavery in the south. But the courage to cast a critical eye on our own history, especially when there are implications for policies today – nah, that courage is depressingly rare.

Walked into one class, African-American Studies, looking for volunteers to swap sections of another class. But the teacher knew what day it was, and asked the kids to sing happy birthday. They did. This version:

Cool music from my childhood. Reminded me of some other stuff. Thought about uptempo funk that I like…. So I wrote “falletinme” on the board and no one knew it, so the teacher googled it and played this:

And that was kind of it, besides calls from friends and family. And a gazillion facebook posts. Now, I know that facebook prompts you, and you just type in “happy birthday!” which holds down the meaningfulness, but I don’t care, I like them, and acknowledged all of them (Saturday) and answered many of them individually.

Saturday was a “signing party.” There is a coalition challenging for the leadership of the UFT – United for Change. To get on the ballot, petitions have to be signed. The current leadership (Mulgrew) handle it easily – but for our coalition the process forced us into tight spaces on a short timeline as omicron is still fading. They definitely were trying to put as at risk (and denied appeals for time, for waiving the requirement since they knew we could do it, for electronic signing, etc). Since their goal is winning, not the health of the union, and certainly not the health of their opponents, this is understandable. But still despicable.

Anyhow, Saturday was a signing party. And I did a bunch of the behind the scenes logistical work. One of the coalition partners, MORE, brought most of the people. And it was tremendous. And here is one of the main organizers singling me out for credit:

It was kind of cool to be treated as the sage veteran with wisdom and experience. I like that role.

Sunday McRib asked me to come out to Jersey. We hiked twice in January, and two weeks ago we faced some icy conditions. We discussed microspikes, and he went out and bought some. So when I got there, he asked if he should bring the spikes. Yup, why not, be safe, just in case. They were still in the envelope they were shipped in.

I picked a spot 25 minutes WNW of him, where we’d never been. Apshawa Preserve. And sure enough, we got there and asked two hikers a bit older than us if we would need spikes on some of the trails. “Everywhere” they told us. So we strapped the spikes on, and walked cautiously, getting used to the feel. Mixed ice and dirt/mud. And then nothing but ice. We gained confidence as we tested the traction. A mile in and we were stomping the ice, like kids stomping through puddles. I can’t remember the last time I saw McRib having so much fun.

And here’s me, with Butler Reservoir frozen behind me.

We walked out a bit on the reservoir. We saw what the ice fishermen had left behind. And then stomped back to the car.

A nice end to a fairly uneventful birthday weekend.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. dmarain permalink
    February 8, 2022 pm28 3:54 pm 3:54 pm

    I enjoyed reading every word of your post and, needless to say, belated Happy Birthday, Jonathan! Compared to most weekends for me I would say yours was far from uneventful! 😊

    On a separate note, back in the late 50s and early 60s during the Civil Rights marches, a popular sign displayed by many Southerners was “2-4-6-8 We Don’t Want To Integrate.” Ironically, that’s also how my calculus students felt later on!😊

    As you pointed out, we haven’t come all that far in fulfilling MLK’s dream 60 years later. Further, I’ve never felt that racism has been the sole province of white Southerners…

    • February 8, 2022 pm28 8:02 pm 8:02 pm

      Thank you! As you see, I’ve been crossing the river west lately… How are you?

  2. Maryellen Ambrosio permalink
    February 8, 2022 pm28 7:50 pm 7:50 pm

    Happy “Freedom Day” Birthday 🎂

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Diane Gallagher permalink
    February 9, 2022 pm28 4:25 pm 4:25 pm

    Happy Birthday, Jonathan, and thank you for consistently being principled and truthful with all things.

    • February 9, 2022 pm28 5:36 pm 5:36 pm

      I am grateful for your words. I do try.


  1. Freedom Day – NYC – February 3, 1964 (repost) | JD2718

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