Wednesday, May 29, 2013

King's Road

by Larry Bleiberg
                From his birthplace in Atlanta to the, balcony where he died, follow the path of America’s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and meet others who helped make history.
                Theresa Burroughs remembers the last time Martin Luther King Jr. came to town. It was March 21,1968, and the civil rights leader had preached at her church in Greensboro, Alabama. “He was a little man, but he had a booming voice,” Burroughs recalls. “When he spoke, you sat up and listened.”
                After the gathering, King was about to leave when someone rushed in with news: The Ku Klux Klan had torched two churches on highways leading out of town. Now they were looking for King.
                “The Klan was ready to ambush him,” Burroughs says.
                The beauty shop owner urged him not to leave and invited him to stay at her home. The Nobel Peace Prize winner agreed and spent an uneasy night, lying on a bed by the door of her shotgun-shack-style home.
                Two weeks later, King was gunned down in Memphis.
                Burroughs never forgot that night, and in 2002, she converted her home into the Safe House Black History Museum. “This,” she says, pointing to the floor where King had slept, “is holy ground.”
                While her story is unique, the experience of talking to someone who played a personal role in the civil rights movement is not. Since I moved to Alabama more than 20 years ago, I’ve discovered that civil rights history is recent history. Not simply relegated to books and grainy documentaries, the stories of the so-called foot soldiers of the civil rights movement can still be heard in person, unlike accounts from, say, the Alamo or Gettysburg. Many of these former foot soldiers volunteer at museums or participate in special events. I’ve had conversations with Freedom Riders and protesters, and I’ve even chatted with a woman who once babysat one of King’s infant daughters.
                Over the years, friends have asked me how best to experience sites associated with this pivotal era. I suggest following the movement itself. Trace the path of King, from his birthplace in Atlanta, through the battlegrounds of Alabama, to the museum marking his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. The 600-mile drive is best done over several days, allowing time to absorb the region’s beauty and haunting history at a leisurely pace.
                This year is an opportune time to visit. Birmingham will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the significant events of 1963, when violence in the city and a confrontation at the University of Alabama helped spark passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination.
                Some travelers new to the South may wonder if their presence at these sites might be resented. Hardly. The hospitality will charm you, and you may be surprised the first time you’re called “sir” or “ma’am.” Just remember to ask questions along the way. You never know whom you might meet.

Atlanta - The Beginnings

                The easiest and most logical place to start is King’s birthplace in Atlanta. Now a National Park District, this area preserves King’s upbringing in the then-segregated but self-sufficient Sweet Auburn neighborhood where his maternal grandfather, and later King Jr. himself, presided at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
                Arrive early to reserve free tickets to tour King’s childhood home (pictured; tours are limited and fill up quickly) and peruse the poignant exhibits and short films in the visitors center. Be sure to stop by the adjacent King Center, a living monument where you also can pay your respects at his grave, FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, the stone monument reads.

* Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 450 Auburn Avenue NE. (404) 331-5190

Montgomery - Birthplace of a Movement

                From Atlanta, it’s an easy 150-mile drive to the Alabama capital where King — and more notably, a 42-year-old seamstress-turned-civil rights activist—made headlines in 1955 when she refused to surrender her bus seat. Montgomery was King’s first post, and after Rosa Parks’ arrest, the young reverend was thrust into the spotlight when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
                Put simply, it was a job no one else wanted, and as the struggle dragged on, King learned why. After a middle-of-the-night phone caller threatened his family, the reverend faced a moment of doubt.
                The Dexter Parsonage, the middle-class 1950s home where King lived from 1954 to 1960, is now preserved as a museum. Other activist pastors, who presided over the nearby Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, also resided there. Tour guide Shirley Cherry, a former schoolteacher who herself dealt with the difficulties of segregation, captivates visitors as she stands near a Formica kitchen table in the parsonage and recounts the events that took place there.
                King couldn’t sleep after the threatening call, she says, so he made a cup of coffee and sat at the table to drink it. Did he have the will, he asked himself, to lead a long, violent struggle? “Lord, I’m losing my strength,” Cherry quotes King. That’s when he heard a voice urging him on.
                That Kitchen Table Experience on January 27,1956, inspired King to continue with the boycott, despite the threats against him and his young family and the bombing of his house a few days later. “What happened that night was a lesson for all of us," Cherry says. “It’s a lesson in commitment and obedience.”
                Montgomery’s other civil rights sites include a museum devoted to Rosa Parks and a smaller museum and gallery at the restored Greyhound station where attackers ambushed the Freedom Riders who were challenging segregation laws.

* Civil Rights Memorial, Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue; (334) 956-8200
* Dexter Parsonage Museum, 309 S. Jackson Street. (334) 261-3270
* Freedom Rides Museum, 210 S. Court Street. (334) 242-3935
* Richard Harris House (historic marker), 372 S. Jackson Street.
* Rosa Parks Library and Museum, 252 Montgomery Street. (334) 241-8615
* Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Lowndes County Interpretive Center, 7002 US Route 80 West, White Hall. (334) 877-1983

Selma - A Bridge to History

                From Montgomery, drive along the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail (US Route 80), on which protesters marched over five long days.
                Stop at the halfway mark to explore the National Park Service visitors center and watch the 25-minute film explaining the historic march.
                 The march was prompted by the events of March 7,1965, that took place on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. There’s nothing glamorous about the arched span, but it’s as much an American symbol as the Statue of Liberty. On that day, now known as Bloody Sunday, hundreds of unarmed citizens marched across the bridge to protest the difficulty African Americans had when registering to vote. As TV cameras rolled, police gassed and beat protesters who tried to cross the bridge.
                 “I thought I was going to die," says Lynda Lowery, a Selma resident who was 14 at the time. “I have never felt that fear since.” Now she volunteers with the annual Jubilee in Selma that reenacts the march.
                When you walk across the bridge, pause at the top to ask yourself what you would have done if you saw the police waiting for you. Then visit Selma’s National Voting Rights Museum at the foot of the bridge, where you’ll find docents like Lowery as well as photos documenting that terrible day.
                From Selma, head north on Alabama State Route 14 to Marion. About 5 miles east of town is the grave of Jimmie Lee Jackson, tucked in a wooded area off the highway (get directions from the Perry County Chamber, as well as a mobile phone tour, at 334-526-3061 or A state trooper killed the 26-year-old in February 1965, which prompted one of the first attempts to march to Montgomery. That attempt ended in Bloody Sunday a month later. Then head northwest on the Coretta Scott King Highway, pausing at her childhood home 12 miles north of Marion, where she and King were married. It’s just a short drive on to Greensboro and the Safe House Museum.

* National Park Service Selma Interpretive Center, 2 Broad Street. (334) 872-0509
* National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, 6 US Route 80 East. (334) 418-0800;
* Safe House Black History Museum, corner of Davis Street and Martin Luther King Drive, Greensboro. (334) 624-2030

Tuscaloosa - Segregation Challenged

                From Greensboro, head north. College football fans may know Tuscaloosa for its national championship team, but it’s also the site of a pivotal event in civil rights history. On a sweltering June day in 1963, newly elected Governor George Wallace blocked a schoolhouse door as two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, tried to register at the University of Alabama. Earlier that year, in his inaugural speech, Wallace had famously declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
                 The Malone-Hood Plaza now marks the spot, honoring the two students who proved the governor wrong.

* Malone-Hood Plaza, Autherine Lucy Clock Tower, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. (205) 348-6010.

Birmingham - The 1963 Campaign

                Birmingham made international news during the 1963 Children’s Crusade, when police dogs attacked schoolchildren and water cannons knocked peaceful marchers to the ground. In Kelly Ingram Park, statues of German shepherds lunging and children cowering for safety freeze those moments in time.
                 A few weeks before the confrontation, King was arrested during a protest and wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a defense of nonviolent protest. The bars of his cell are now housed in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the centerpiece of the six-block Civil Rights District. Another of the district’s landmarks is the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four girls were killed in a bombing.
                 I like the Institute for its frequent special programs and for its volunteers, many of whom are willing to share their experiences from the civil rights era. It’s here that I met retiree Catherine Burks-Brooks, a Freedom Rider who stood up to Birmingham’s notorious commissioner of public safety, “Bull” Connor. Connor had taken the college student and several others who had defied the city’s segregation laws from jail in the middle of the night, saying he planned to drive them back home to Nashville. But as soon as the car reached the Tennessee border, Connor kicked them out.
                 “Back then, we watched a lot of cowboy movies,” Burks-Brooks said. “I told him I would see him back in Birmingham by high noon.” It was actually 3 p.m. when she and her classmates made it back to continue the historic Freedom Ride.

* 16th Street Baptist Church, 1530 Sixth Avenue North. (205) 251-9402
* Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 520 16th Street North. (205) 328-9696
* Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street North and Fifth Avenue North.

Memphis, Tennessee - A Fallen Leader

                Perhaps prompted by his close call just weeks earlier in Greensboro, King seemed to sense that his days were numbered.
                 The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the most comprehensive museum of its kind in the country, honors King and much more. It’s a no-holds barred examination of the march to freedom from its roots in slavery to the movement that swept the world.
                The museum encompasses the Lorraine Motel, preserved in its 1950s style. A line often forms by the room where King stayed and died. A decade ago, the museum was expanded to include the boarding house from which James Earl Ray fired at King. Working their way through exhibits, visitors are drawn to the sniper’s perch, wishing somehow history could be changed. Looking toward the motel balcony, the shot looks disturbingly easy.
                The scene marks the place where King’s journey came to an end. But the movement marched on. As we know today, the reverend’s words and convictions continued to reverberate, long after he resolved his doubts at a kitchen table, inspiring millions, and changing history.

 * National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry Street. (901) 521-9699
Birmingham-based journalist Larry Bleiberg runs

How to get the most out of healthy habits? Schedule them smartly!

By Emma Haaak

JUST AS IT'S BETTER to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, it's better to have squeezed in a quick evening workout than - well, you get the idea. But what if we told you that it's best to work out first thing in the morning and that other healthy activities are likewise most beneficial at specific times? Here's our daily plan for staying in tip-top shape.

RISE AND RUN ON EMPTY Yet another reason to get your exercise out of the way early: A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that working out before breakfast burns nearly 20 percent more fat than waiting until after your first meal. The study was small and conducted on men, but as lead researcher Javier Gonzalez points out, "Women burn more fat during exercise, so it's possible they could see an even greater fat-burning benefit by working out before breakfast." When you exercise on an empty stomach, your body burns more stored fat than carbs to give you the energy you need. (Still, drink water to stay hydrated.) If you work out after you've eaten, your body relies more on carbs, potentially making it harder to lose weight.

LOAD UP ON LUNCH Making lunch your biggest meal could help you shed pounds. A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity followed 420 overweight or obese men and women on a Mediterranean diet for 20 weeks and found that those who ate approximately 40 percent of their total daily calories-from carbs and protein like legumes or fish, with a side of salad or cooked vegetables before 3 P.M. dropped an average of 11 percent of their body weight, compared with 9 percent among those who ate their biggest meal later. "Your metabolism runs on its own internal clock," explains study coauthor Marta Garaulet Aza, PhD. "If you eat your biggest meal too late, you can disrupt the body's natural cycle and it may think it's time to store fat instead of burning it for energy." 

GET YOUR VITAMIN D Before you finish eating lunch, take your daily dose of vitamin D, which helps maintain bone health and may even protect against hypertension and cancer. D also happens to be an essential nutrient that about one-third of Americans don't get enough of, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Why should you take it with lunch? Blood serum levels are the best indicator of the vitamin D concentration in your body, and when researchers at the Cleveland Clinic had people take a vitamin D supplement with their biggest meal of the day, the subjects' serum levels shot up nearly 57 percent. "Vitamin D is fat soluble," explains study coauthor and endocrinologist Angelo Licata, MD, PhD. "It needs fat to be absorbed properly, and since you're more likely to consume the most fat in your largest meal, your body will be better able to put the vitamin to use." Just make sure your lunch contains mostly healthy fats like olive oil and nuts.

BE CREATIVE When researchers asked a group of students who considered themselves "morning people" to solve creative-thinking problems in the afternoon when they were less focused, they got 42 percent of the questions right- 9 percentage points better than the group that answered them when more alert. "The best time for thinking creatively is often when you're not as focused." says lead study author Mareike Wieth, PhD. "Distractions may help you approach a problem differently, leading to more novel solutions." 

LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE For years doctors have advocated that people at high risk for heart attack take an aspirin daily, but the pill may also help control high blood pressure. And taking it at bedtime is the best time, according to a study in the American Journal of Hypertension. Prehypertensive people who took 100 milligrams of aspirin before bed lowered their blood pressure significantly enough that researchers believe the habit could delay the need for hypertension meds by up to 15 years. (Morning aspirin takers saw no benefits.) At night, aspirin reduces the activity of renin, an enzyme that raises blood pressure. And as your body reaps the benefits of a truly healthy day you can rest easy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

And The Mountains Echoed : A Novel by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead) opens like a thunderclap, with a fable of sacrifice told by a destitute Afghan villager to his son and daughter. What makes his sad tale even more searing is that the children are unaware their father is about to sell one of them. From this dramatic opening spins a constellation of star-crossed characters: Parwana, a twin, suffers from both jealousy and admiration of her more beautiful sister, Masooma-until the day she seals their conjoined tragic fate. Nila, a wealthy sophisticate from Kabul, torments her love-struck servant, Nabi, while her husband, Suleiman, has a secret of his own. Idris, an expat medical doctor, finds that good intentions aren't always enough to overcome terrible circumstances. The moving third novel from Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns, asks good, hard questions about the limits of love. These interwoven stories are told from a variety of perspectives, with focus and motive ever-changing, and chapters traveling forward and backward in time and location: a poor village; a wealthy neighborhood in Kabul; homes in Paris, San Francisco, and Athens. But Afghanistan itself remains the emotional heart, ravaged by war, invaders, and poverty, as well as pitiless winters. Despite often shattering experiences, hope survives. As Nabi explains: "We are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us:' Love, Hosseini seems to say, is the great leveler, cutting through language, class, and identity. No one in this gripping novel is immune to its impact.

-review by Diana Abu-Jaber  June, 2013

TransAtlantic : A Novel by Colum McCann

On a gusty afternoon in 1919, two World War I veterans nose their plane into the air, headed east from Newfoundland, pitching across rivers of tailwind and blizzard before crash-landing in a bog in Ireland for the world's first successful transatlantic flight. The navigator furtively carries a letter, given to him by a teenage girl, in his coat pocket. From this thrilling opening, National Book Award winner Colum McCann weaves an intricate tapestry that illuminates the anguish of Irish history and the deeper agonies of war. TransAtlantic (Random House) reads as a series of interconnected novellas, shifting between decades, among an unlikely cast of richly drawn characters, initially foregrounding the men: aviators Brown and Alcock; Frederick Douglass, seeking support from Irish abolitionists on the eve of the potato famine; Senator George Mitchell, brokering a tenuous peace between Catholics and Protestants. But McCann's narrative truly soars when he brings in four generations of Irish women Lily, Emily, Lottie, and Hannah. As he fleshes out their hopes and horrors, TransAtlantic gains altitude and velocity, its stories lifting and intersecting, the unopened correspondence a talisman passed from one generation to the next. At its heart the novel is profoundly antiwar, shaking its fist at needless bloodshed. "When you get up to sit with God or the devil you can curse them both for me," Lily muses to the corpse of her slaughtered son. "This god-awful manufacture of blood and bone. This fool-soaked war that makes a loneliness of mothers." Reminiscent of the finest work of Michael Ondaatje and Michael Cunningham, TransAtlantic is Colum McCann's most penetrating novel yet.

- review by Hamilton Cain  June, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.
- saying of the Buddha

We have built the heaven with might, and We it is who make the vast extent.
- Qur'an, 51:47

The senses are higher than the body; the mind higher than the senses; above the mind is the intellect; and above the intellect is the Self.
- Bhagavad Gita, 3:42

What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
- New Testament, 2 Corinthians 4:18

Permanence from Impermanence

                And she died. At that moment, there were 3,147,740,103,497,276,498,750,208,327 atoms in her body. Of her total mass, 63.7 percent was oxygen, 21.0 percent carbon, 10.1 percent hydrogen, 2.6 percent nitrogen, 1.4 percent calcium, 1.1 percent phosphorous, plus a smattering of the ninety-odd other chemical elements created in stars.
                In the cremation, her water evaporated. Her carbon and nitrogen combined with oxygen to make gaseous carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which floated skyward and mingled with the air. Most of her calcium and phosphorous baked into a reddish brown residue and scattered in soil and in wind.
                Released from their temporary confinement, her atoms slowly spread out and diffused through the atmosphere. In sixty days' time, they could be found in every handful of air on the planet. In one hundred days, some of her atoms, the vaporous water, had condensed into liquid and returned to the surface as rain, to be drunk and ingested by animals and plants. Some of her atoms were absorbed by light-utilizing organisms and transformed into tissues and tubules and leaves. Some were breathed in by oxygen creatures, incorporated into organs and bone.
                Pregnant women ate animals and plants made of her atoms. A year later, babies contained some of her atoms. Not that her atoms had identification labels. But they were certainly her atoms, there is no doubt about that. I knew which ones. I could count them. Here, and here, and here. Several years after her death, millions of children contained some of her atoms. And their children would contain some of her atoms as well. Their minds contained part of her mind.
                Will these millions of children, for generations upon future generations, know that some of their atoms cycled through this woman? It is not likely. Will they feel what she felt in her life, will their memories have flickering strokes of her memories, will they recall that moment long ago when she stood by the window, guilt ridden and confused, and watched as the tadr bird circled the cistern? No, it is not possible. Will they have some faint sense of her glimpse of the Void? No, it is not possible. It is not possible. But I will let them have their own brief glimpse of the Void, just at the moment they pass from living to dead, from animate to inanimate, from consciousness to that which has no consciousness. For a moment ' they will understand infinity.
                And the individual atoms, cycled through her body and then cycled through wind and water and soil, cycled through generations and generations of living creatures and minds, will repeat and connect and make a whole out of parts. Although without memory, they make a memory. Although impermanent, they make a permanence. Although scattered, they make a totality.

"Mr. g" by Alan Lightman

Thursday, May 09, 2013

"Honor Thy Father" tickets are ON SALE !!!

Please let your friends and family know that tickets to Kappa Delta Sigma Chapter's signature event are now available for purchase:

Please be aware that the best method to ensure that your ticket is secure is by purchasing it on-line. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns.