Thursday 28 August 2014

I Have a Dream

28 August 1963: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with estimated 250.000 participants ... among them Martin Luther King, Jr. who delivered his speech "I Have a Dream" in front of Lincoln Memorial.

"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."


But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring! And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (transcript via)

photos via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via; copyright by their respective owners (e.g. Paul Schutter, LIFE, Getty), all links given to trace back

Monday 25 August 2014


Dagen H (H for Högertrafik, Swedish for right-hand driving), or "H Day", on 3 September 1967 was the day Sweden switched from left-hand driving to right-hand driving (via).

The main reasons for Sweden's switch to driving on the right were that its neighbouring countries drove on the right and that most of the people in Sweden drove left-hand drive vehicles (via).

As the question whether driving on the left or on the right becomes part of a cultural tradition, the change was not a popular one. In fact, it had been voted down by a majority for about forty years before Dagen H (via). It is also our culture that gives us an idea of who is driving on the right side or on the wrong side of the road ...

The rule of the road is a paradox quite,
For if you keep to the left, you're sure to be right.
Highway Act from 1835, UK

On 3 September 1967, all traffic signals were wrapped in black plastic, all non-essential traffic was banned for a few hours, all vehicles had to stop at 04.50, change to the right and continue driving at 05.00 (via).

Most of the bus stops were moved to the other side of the streets, most of the trams were replaced by new buses with doors on the right-hand side. Vehicles also needed adaption (via).

Left or right are relative directions, egocentric coordinates. The tendency to use egocentric (e.g. left-right) vs. geocentric (e.g. north-south) coordinates varies as spatial frames depend on which language (and cultural) community one belongs to. English, for instance, rather uses egocentric, body-defined coordinates, e.g. "The cup is to the left of the bowl." Tseltal Mayan (spoken in Mexico), for example, prefers geocentric coordinates although the words "left" and "right" are part of the language, e.g. "Pass me the cup to your north." (Li et. al, 2011).

A campaign prepared Sweden for the change. There were Dagen H logos on many different items such as underwear and milk cartons, songs dedidated to the day and some more initiatives (via).

- Li, P., Abarbanell, L., Gleitman, L. & Papafragou, A. (2011). Spatial reasoning in Tenejapan Mayans. Cognition, 120, 33-53.
- photos via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Friday 22 August 2014

Marathon Woman

"The reason there are no intercollegiate sports for women at big universities, no scholarships, prize money, or any races longer than 800 meters is because women don’t have the opportunities to prove they want those things. If they could just take part, they’d feel the power and accomplishment and the situation would change. After what happened today, I felt responsible to create those opportunities. I felt elated, like I’d made a great discovery. In fact, I had." 
Kathrine Switzer

At university, Kathrine Switzer unofficially trained with the men's cross-country team as there was no women's running team. One night in 1966, she had an argument with her coach Arnie Briggs. Switzer: "Oh, let's quit talking about the Boston Marathon and run the damn thing." Briggs: "No woman can run the Boston Marathon."

"If any woman could do it, you could, but you would have to prove it to me. If you ran the distance in practice, I'd be the first to take you to Boston." Briggs and Switzer ran a 31-mile trial, checked the rule book and entry form, did not find anything about gender and Switzer registered as "K.V. Switzer". Her boyfriend, Big Tom Miller, decided to run the marathon too because: "If a girl can run the marathon, I can run a marathon."

In Boston, Switzer felt welcome, other runners were pleased to have a woman in their presence: "Gosh, it's great to see a girl here!" As she was running, she saw a man from the Boston Athletic Association in the middle of the road shaking his finger at her and saying something. Shortly later, race manager Jock Semple grabbed her shoulder and screamed: "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" He tried to rip off her bib number, her coach tried to push him away, Kathrine Switzer tried to run (away) and her boyfriend finally hit him. Nevertheless, they continued running - feeling confused, helpless, terrified. Journalists changed the tone of their questions: "What are you trying to prove?"

 "(...) I wondered if I should step off the course. I did not want to mess up this prestigious race. But the thought was only a flicker. I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win. My fear and humiliation turned to anger." (via)

Women were not unwelcome in the 1960s if they only ran alongside the competitors for a while taking the role of enthusiastic spectators. As long as they were not official entrants and the "finishing line was not recorded, the woman runner posed not threat and encountered few problems." (Cooper, 1999). In 1966, Roberta Louise Gibb became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon - without a number and without an official time. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer ran with a number and finished the marathon despite the incidents. The Boston Marathon was established in 1897. Officially, women were not allowed to enter the Boston Marathon until 1972. In 1996, all unoffical women's leaders from 1966 to 1971 (when women were still believed to be physiologically unable to run marathon distances) were retroactively recognised. In 2011, 43% of the entrants were female and offical participants (via).

"I think it's time to change the rules. They are archaic. Women can run, and they can still be women and look like women. I think the AAU will begin to realize this and put in longer races for women ... I'm glad I ran - you know, equal rights and all."
Kathrine Switzer, 23 April 1967 (in Cooper, 1999)

- Cooper, P. (1999) The American Marathon. Syracuse University Press
- Interview with Kathrine Switzer: watch
- photos via and via and via and via and via and via
related postings: Merry Lepper & Bobbi Gibb