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By Diane Wahto on July 3, 2011

Gail Collins took on a monumental task when she set out to write When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, published in 2010, with an updated appendix. Collins is the former editorials editor of The New York Times and writes a column for the Times op-ed page. Her method of detailing the history of the second wave of the feminist movement is to include personal anecdotes of individual women with the historical events that marked and shaped their lives. The personal anecdotes based on interviews with hundreds of women make the book readable and entertaining.

As a person who came of age in the '60s and who felt the exhilaration of first, seeing the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement unfold, then secondly being a part of The Feminine Mystique generation, I not only had my memory jogged as I read this book, I relived some of the events that took place during those years. Many women of my generation woke up to the realization that they didn't have to follow the traditional path that their mothers and grandmothers had trod. Rather they had choices that included activism but did not necessarily have to include having sex with and making coffee for the men in the anti-war and Civil Rights movements.

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By Angelo Lopez on June 24, 2011

Frederick Douglass is best known as an abolitionist and a champion of African American rights. One of the most compelling orators of the nineteenth century, Douglass delivered countless abolitionist speeches and civil rights speeches to defend the African American community from slavery, discrimination and lynching. Frederick Douglass, though, did not fight for only the rights of African Americans. He fought for the human rights of all groups that he saw as being harassed or discriminated against and he involved himself in the great reform movements of his time. Douglass participated in the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 and signed the Declaration of Sentiments. He supported the labor movement, the temperance movement, and he fought against peonage. One of the little known facts about Frederick Douglass is his advocacy of equal rights for immigrants, especially Chinese laborers. In the book Ripples Of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches edited by Josh Gottheimer, I found a speech that Douglass made on December 7, 1869 attacking the discrimination and violence that Chinese immigrants were facing. In light of the controversy over immigrant rights today, we could draw lessons from Frederick Douglass's speech.

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By Angelo Lopez on June 3, 2011

Alexander Hamilton has always been the one Founding Father that I didn't like. There are many reasons for this. Two of my favorite Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, couldn't stand Hamilton. Though I am to the left of the political spectrum, I've always felt that some of the Left's criticism of the Founding Fathers are unfair. The criticism of the Left that the Founding Father's were capitalistic and imperialistic seems to apply though to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was a supporter of a strong professional military and championed the North's merchant class, stock markets and a central banking system. While reading Ron Chernow's book Alexander Hamilton, though, I found out that Hamilton was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery. During the 1780s, Hamilton was one of the founders of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, which was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in the state of New York. After reading about Alexander Hamilton's work for the New York Manumission Society, I gained a greater appreciation of Alexander Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis in the British West Indies in 1757, the illegitimate child of common-in-law couple James and Rachel Hamilton. James abandoned the family when Alexander was ten, and two years later, his mother Rachel died from an unspecified disease. After his mother died, Alexander Hamilton and his brother James were brought under the legal guardianship of their cousin Peter Lytton, who unfortunately committed suicide. During this chaotic childhood, Alexander Hamilton lived in poverty and was a social outcast due to his illegitimate birth. His intelligence was noticed though, and he soon lived with a respected merchant, Thomas Stevens and his wife, Ann.

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By Weeden Nichols on May 10, 2011

We are advised that happiness is possible only if we are not preoccupied with the past and the future – that we must learn to be present to the “now.” We are to appreciate the light on the cottonwood, the spring song of the cardinal claiming his territory, the texture of the loved-one’s cheek. Yes, it is in these things that happiness is to be found.

But what if there is more to life than happiness? What if the past has value? What if there are lessons provided by the past? What if the key to knowing yourself is learning your heritage? What if the aggregate of all the positive contributions of all past generations are meant for your custody, and succeeding generations are waiting anxiously in the wings?

What if we are not the ultimate center of the universe (or “multiverse”)? What if those who come after are as important as we are? Or more important? What if they will be lost without what we are responsible for providing?

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By Weeden Nichols on April 21, 2011

The Civil War is the topic of the month, this 150th anniversary month of the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, which initiated that armed conflict. Leonard Pitts, whom I consider a good man, and whom I respect greatly, has written that the real motive of the influential Southerners who were the Secession decision-makers was the perpetuation of human slavery. He cited documents and private correspondence to that effect. It may be true that the motives of the decision-makers were as Leonard Pitts proposes. In human history the pattern has occurred often, that people who did not create an evil, but profited from it nevertheless, perpetuated that evil. But it does not follow that those ordinary persons who volunteered to defend their homelands, or were conscripted according to the laws then in effect in their states, were traitors, or that their memories as veterans-of-war should not be honored.

My wife and I, between us, have eleven ancestors, of whom we know, on the Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index. These ancestors, for the most part, had humble and short-lived roles in that conflict, yet they are honored greatly. (We both, also, had ancestors who fought as Loyalists. They participated in good faith, but are not honored.) My wife and I both had ancestors who fought as Confederate soldiers throughout the whole four years of the Civil War, enduring wounds, illness, pain, and deprivation.

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By Randy Leer on April 18, 2011

I previously posted on this topic. This has generated more discussion on Facebook. I have found this discussion to be interesting. It is enlightening to see how many Americans think and what they believe. I surely did not convince them of my points, but I think the discourse is educational. So I am going to do “Part 2" here. I hope this can be educational and enriching for you as well.

The key posts that took place after I posted the link to my article were:

"I personally believe in the Biblical and Third World models of national economics - "IF YOU DON'T WORK - THEN YOU DON'T EAT!"

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By Angelo Lopez on February 13, 2011

Over the past two years, the Tea Party has dominated the political discourse in American politics. In spite of my disagreements with them, I have a grudging respect for the way the Tea Party activists have become passionately involved in the political process and have taken part in organized protests to try to sway the American public to their way of thinking. I hope more progressives emulate that sort of activism.

Despite that grudging respect, I disagree with a lot of things that have emanated from the Tea Party. One of my biggest disagreements with the Tea Party has to do with the way they interpret the Constitution.

When I read a lot of what the Tea Party espouses about the Constitution and its philosophy of a limited federal government, I wonder if these people are confusing the Constitution with the Articles of Confederation.

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By Ken Poland on January 16, 2011

Is it a little presumptuous for us to attempt to state exactly how the framers of our constitution would speak to our present environment and culture? Historical evidence, both prior to and after the ratification of the Constitution, indicates that all the members of the committee of men who wrote that document didn't get what they wanted. They had very strong differences concerning many of the issues. The only thing we can hope to do is pontificate on outside communications and opinions by each of the framers. We cannot determine with absolute certainty how each one would think today. We have had two hundred years worth of history since their time. We have problems facing society today that they had never had to deal with. We have remedies available today that were unheard of then. We live in a world without transportation or communication boundaries. We can, literally, talk face to face with someone on the other side of the world, just as if they were sitting in a chair facing us. And that is available to the masses, not just government officials.

Some of us grew up in the same overall environment as Rev. Martin Luther KIng, Jr. did. We didn't all experience exactly the same environment, but communication allowed us to witness both word and picture of what Rev. King was speaking of. We don't all agree with his priority of the worst wrongs or the best rights.

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By Diane Wahto on November 21, 2010

As November nears its end, people are showing signs of the joy that comes with the beginning of the holiday season. They are making plans to be with family for Thanksgiving and houses are decked out in their Christmas finery. This holiday season, however, is marred by the ongoing plight of those who have lost their jobs and their homes. Every Thanksgiving, for me, brings with the joy a sense of sadness evoked by memories of a bygone time.

On Nov. 22, 1963, I was getting ready to go grocery shopping. My husband was home for lunch and I could leave our three kids at home with him to shop unimpeded by their demands for Capt. Crunch, plastic toys, and the candy we encountered in the checkout line.

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By Angelo Lopez on October 2, 2010

These are extremely partisan times. Democrats and Republicans seem to be unable to work together as they fight to an impasse in Congress over such issues as climate change, gay rights, immigration reform, and health care reform. Tea Party members try to vote out of office any politician who is not sufficiently conservative, while progressives decry the Obama administration for taking too many compromises in the health care reform bill and the stimulus bill. Though these times may seem exceedingly partisan, a look at our history shows that America has always had its partisan conflicts and divisive issues. From the Vietnam War to Civil Rights to Abolition, Americans have always been arguing about one issue or another.

In spite of these many disagreements, history is replete with many friendships of individuals with opposing viewpoints. Liberal Ted Kennedy and conservative Orrin Hatch were best friends in the Senate. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil would argue during the congressional debates, but would share drinks and exchange jokes afterward. When Reagan was shot, O'Neil visited his bedside and comforted his wife Nancy. Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda were best friends even though Stewart was a conservative Republican and Fonda was an ardent New Deal liberal. The most famous friendship of opposites in American history was the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams.

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