Thursday, June 22, 2017

Supreme Court Anniversaries: Loving v. Virginia

"Cohabitating as man and wife against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth"
 
 Rats tickled her feet.
 
Mildred sat in a dirty jail cell, some months pregnant, while rats crawled along the floor. Her husband's family managed to pay the bail for him, but she was stuck until the authorities felt like letting her go. Although they were arrested together, her white husband Richard found more sympathy from the state of Virginia than she did, as a woman of mixed racial background.  Their crime, classified as a felony under state law, was simply being married to one another.
 
Virginia, like many other southern states, had passed "anti-miscegenation laws" in the early 1920s to prohibit interracial marriage to protect the "dignity" of the white supremacist philosophy that ruled the South with an iron grip.
 
They were ultimately released, but banished from Virginia for 25 years. Mildred and Richard Loving moved to Washington D.C., where they hoped their union would be more accepted. However, city life and ostracism took their toll; they missed their friends and families deeply in Virginia, and the big city was too dirty, expensive and chaotic. They simply wanted to go back to their quiet little hamlet and live peacefully, surrounded by those they loved.
 
Although the Supreme Court would ultimately rule in their favor, it took nine long years for Richard and Mildred's marriage to be officially recognized in 1967. The June decision in Loving v. Virginia formally legalized interracial marriage throughout the United States, as 24 states still had laws against miscegenation. However, despite the ruling, many states were reluctant to amend state law in accordance with federal law, and Alabama became the final state to remove all language referencing miscegenation in 2000.
 
Loving marks a triumph for love and civil rights. Today approximately 12 percent of marriages are interracial, and couples, married or not, no longer have to fear the state invading their intimate privacy on the grounds of racial differences.
 
To learn more about the Lovings or the history of interracial marriage in the U.S., check out these titles:
 
 
 
 
 
-Ariel Slick

Monday, June 5, 2017

Reading the classics, reimagined

Born June 5, 1964, Rick Riordan has made his mark on the young adult literary scene and helped bring classical mythology to a new generation.

It all started as a bedtime story.

What would spawn a multi-million dollar franchise, including books, movies, and graphic novels, first came to Rick Riordan as an idea to entertain his son. Now the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series has been translated into 42 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. With a background in teaching Greek mythology to middle schoolers, Riordan has brought the classic stories of monsters, gods, and heroes to a young, modern audience.

When Haley (his son) asked him to create a new Greek myth, Riordan spun a tale over the course of three nights about gods and their descendants living in modern times. Originally inspired by his son who was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, Riordan wrote the titular character as ADHD/dyslexic to recognize children with similar conditions and to remind them that being different is not bad.

The wild popularity of his books caught Riordan off guard. While word-of-mouth recommendations helped grow the series’ recognition, Riordan credits librarians with helping to spread the news of a series based in Greek mythology. “I owe a special debt to the librarians of Texas, who embraced the books early on and did a huge amount of book-talking with their kids. Without them, I doubt the momentum would've built nearly as much or as quickly.” (Rick Riordan.com)

The Lightening Thief book cover shows Percy Jackson fighting at the seaside. Riordan has since branched out and written other series of books based on Norse and Egyptian mythology, Magnus Chase and the Kane Chronicles, respectively.

Start your summer reading with The Lightning Thief, book one in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.

-Ariel Slick

Monday, October 17, 2016

Literary Lights

Today marks the birthday of several literary lights including a man born into slavery and one of Marilyn Monroe's husbands.

Jupiter Hammon was born into slavery in New York state Oct. 17, 1711. He obtained an education and became a writer of poetry and sermons, although he remained enslaved. His poem An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Ties is the first published poem by an African American, although it isn't the first one written.

The 88-line An Evening Thought was printed in a broadside newspaper in December of 1760. There isn't much written on the man himself, but his work can be found at the Poetry Foundation's website. Hammond died around 1806.

Playwright Arthur Miller's birthday was also October 17. He was born in 1915 in New York and began writing plays as a young man.

Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman and also a Tony Award for The Crucible. Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe and also penned a play based on that period of his life. Miller died in 2005.