I was living in Brooklyn when a lawyer named Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the Bronx was named to the Supreme Court, only the second woman to serve on the court, following Sandra Day O’Connor. Over the years, the feisty 5’1” Jewish warrior developed the nickname “the Notorious RBG” – a riff on a famous rapper, the Notorious BIG — and a nickname she readily embraced.
Ginsburg in fact was bringing her strong voice and perspective on women’s rights to the court. In her years as a lawyer, Ginsburg had already argued six cases before the Supreme Court, winning five, and also earning a reputation as “the Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law.” She was also close friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, despite their opposing views.
“Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land,” former President Barack Obama said. “We’re profoundly thankful for the legacy she left.”
I may have left New York years ago, but I will always treasure the memory of celebrating the selection of Ginsburg. On her deathbed, her request was to leave her Supreme Court seat unfilled until after the Presidential election. It remains to be seen if her wish will be fulfilled. But one thing is certain – RBG will not be forgotten!
John Lewis, who became a civil rights icon and a longtime Georgia congressman, died July 17 at the age of 80. As I watched the many tributes this last week, I was amazed that Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama and only moved to Georgia later in his career. I remember Lewis because I joined my late husband Tim Robinson, who was born and raised near Birmingham, Al in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 30th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1995. That day commemorated the original March when Lewis, the one-time “Freedom Rider” was among civil rights demonstrators, including Martin Luther King, attacked and beaten by state troopers in 1965. Tim had covered “Bloody Sunday” as a teenage reporter for the Birmingham Post Herald and photographed the beatings. Lewis was at the commemoration.
More recently, I became aware that Lewis was a respected Georgia congressman in Washington DC and watched a documentary completed shortly before his death. I found it heroic that Lewis pledged to honor his friend Martin Luther King’s devotion to non-violence – resulting in many beatings and concussions, but no regrets. In fact, he continued to be known as “The Boy from Troy” the nickname King gave Lewis at their first meeting in 1958 in Montgomery. The celebrations for Lewis have continued for several days, and will end with his funeral on Thursday, July 30th. I will always remember the hymn “Amazing Grace” echoing in the U.S Congress Building at a special televised memorial ceremony this week. It summed up his grace and courage.
For more on the life of John Lewis, you can read a tribute in the Detroit Free Press – https://www.freep.com/story/news/nation/2020/07/26/civil-rights-icon-john-lewis-remembered-his-passion-leadership/5477561002/
I am sadly trying to accept that my Alabama friend Rick Watson is truly gone. I learned about his passing in a facebook announcement from his wife Jilda – also a dear friend. Among many other hats, Rick was a columnist and reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle, a newspaper in Jasper, Al. Rick and Jilda also had a 12 acre farm that through his writings became “the Walden of Walker County.” Rick and Jilda were also talented musical entertainers and recorded albums together, strumming their guitars and singing glorious harmonies.
I will never forget this couple’s devotion to each other and to my late husband, Tim Robinson. Rick and Tim went to the same high school and while different ages, they became great friends. It lasted a lifetime. After Tim’s sudden death in 2003, my bondage with Rick and Jilda only grew tighter. They supported me and Tim’s family in starting a yearly Forum for Tim at Samford University and Rick always covered the event. I hope you will read some of Rick’s columns and stories, which are archived and can be searched at mountaineagle.com. I had called Tim’s sister Terah Sherer to find out if his obituary had appeared yet – I was able to read it online on July 16. His obit can be searched at mountaineagle.com/obituaries. And finally Rick’s blog is at http://www.rickwatson-writer.com.
I will miss you, dear friend!
I was an avid Los Angeles Lakers basketball fan in the 90s when I lived in California – so I was stunned by the tragic deaths in a helicopter crash of retired Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant (who was only 41 and building a new career as a storyteller) and his teenage daughter Gianna, eager to follow in her father’s footsteps and active in a youth basketball league. Other passengers also died in the foggy crash yesterday in southern California. Bryant leaves behind his wife and three other daughters. It was unbelievably tragic!
The shock of this unexpected ending inspired me to read a lot of coverage on Bryant and I was particularly moved by Mitch Albom’s front page column in the Detroit Free Press. He emphasizes how much more Kobe had to share on his new path and that we are left with tragedy instead of the triumph Albom is sure would have marked Kobe’s new endeavors. For more, read Mitch’s column at https://www.freep.com/story/sports/nba/2020/01/26/kobe-bryant-death-mitch-albom/4585619002/
It finally happened in October – American astronauts Christina Kock and Jessica Meir conducted the first all-female spacewalk. It was originally scheduled for March 29th (during Women’s History Month) and cancelled when it was discovered only one spacesuit proportioned for the women could be found. I posted the original announcement in my blog three weeks ahead of the event, and only discovered long afterwards that the walk had been postponed.
So for those who saw my first blog and thought it was a done deal, my apologies! For detailed coverage of the actual event on October 18th and the controversy about the lopsided ratio of women in space (only 32 percent or 12 of the 18 astronauts currently eligible to fly for NASA are women), you can read an article in the Houston Chronicle at https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/space/article/NASA-s-first-all-female-spacewalk-has-officially-14543988.php
For more on the controversy over spacesuit- design bias against women, read https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/21/20920790/nasa-first-all-female-spacewalk-christina-koch-jessica-meir-spacesuit-design-bias
Oh my, gender bias is not only on earth!
August was a month of both musical love and precious, renewed friendships. Most importantly, I celebrated my 55th Cass Tech High School Reunion this month with former classmates – opening with dinner and a program at Sinbad’s Restaurant in a room overlooking the river on the first night, then lunch and a bus tour on Belle Isle, and finally at a Tiger’s ballgame (oh my, they even won for us!).
My friend Bob Allen was my guest in the fun put together by an incredible committee led by Jeff Crockett that included Ocie, Jacquelyne, Trey, Morry, Susan Patricia, Helen, Sarah, Mildred, John, Anne and Jacquelin. I was lucky enough to be active on the committee in the early planning. We had about 90 active participants over the two days, many from out of town who stayed at the Atheneum Suite Hotel on Brush Ave. and many took a sightseeing bus tour as their opening event. I am so grateful that I got to experience my high school years with these incredible comrades and hope more good times lie ahead.
The first dose of musical love this month was at DTE’s evening concert with “Heart” (with sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson) on the band’s “Love” Alive tour — including opening acts Joan Jet & the Blackhearts and Elle King. I had first seen only Ann on tour a few years ago at a Detroit waterfront festival. But I had always loved their music – and the crowd seated on the DTE hillside around us went crazy as Heart ended their set with their biggest hit, “Barracuda.” I shared in the exhilarating experience with my friend Bob, and we joyously stumbled when we arrived across more of his friends. They already occupied a large space on the grass and shared their blanket for seating on the hillside as they used folding chairs behind us. Amazing.
I also got an exhilarating dose of musical “love” from the 60s by watching PBS’ American Experience documentary “Woodstock”, a chance to remember three days of peace, love and music in upstate New York. I was just graduating college and starting my journalism career when that musical milestone in upstate New York produced 400,000 fans and four days of musical history that miraculously stayed peaceful and produced many signature musical moments, including the unforgettable Jimmy Hendricks, Santana, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin – plus many more evolving superstars. What an August!