Monday, January 19, 2015

A Meander through some Texas History on MLK day

I was meandering through things local to North Texas yesterday; did a traipse into Kentucky for an interesting experience with Dr. Martin Luther King ,and then buzzed back to North Texas. The traipse left me with the impression that things are getting better even as bigotry and fear seem in inexhaustible supply.

I was checking  up on Historic Fort Worth in their ongoing efforts to save historic structures in North Texas. Theirs is a lonely and frustrating effort and they could use some help.

sidenote - Fort Worth has some buildings of character worth saving. Once they're gone, they're gone.They don't build them like they used to. Today you get bland commercial structures identical to others on  street corners  in any city in America. No character. No history. Just one more ugly copy. Check out some old structures worth saving

I bumped into the ELLIS PECAN BUILDING at 1012 N. Main street. It was built by the Ku Klux Klan Klavern No. 101, one of the larger Klaverns in Texas in 1920. Aa mysterious fire burned it down and it was rebuilt in 1924.

Here is the point. The Ku Klux Klan was popular enough in North Texas that they felt they needed a beautiful structure that would hold 4000 people. Then good news. The Klan lost popularity by 1931 and had to sell the building. It became the Ellis Pecan building in 1946.

Here is a snippet snoop of the building from an image swiped
from Mike Nichols at Hometown by Handlebar.

I knew I also needed feedback from Hometown by Handlebar. I knew Mike Nichols would have his own take on such an historically significant building. Catch his drift and his really great images here.

Moving on...
And then on the third Monday of each January  we celebrate the life of the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There was a great post in the Friends of Justice blog- as the guest blogger- a Dr. Jeff Hood, tells the story of the visit of Rev Dr. King Jr. to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961 and the role his knowledge of this history played in helping him come to his own personal terms and his developing a "maladjustment to injustice". A maladjustment to justice is the inability to be inured or adjust to injustices around you.

This is a malady we all need. Check it out.   The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood now works as the Minister of Social Justice for the social justice ministry of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, the largest LGBT church in the world.

So this inspiring story was juxtapositioned against a sad story out of Garland, Texas  where a big crowd of bigots- misinformed , lacking empathy, lacking understanding:  protested against a group of American Muslims meeting at a conference- called “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate. They were meeting in a Garland ISD building.

A glimpse of an unknown number of Garland protesters upset with an Islamic conference meeting in a Garland ISD building.

Quoting from an NBC DFW video- a man was willing to stand up and say in public -
"We're here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us,"

The protesters held signs saying “You are not Americans. Don’t fly our flag,”

Protesters were also unhappy that the Garland Independent School District had allowed the gathering to use a district building.

A spokesperson for the Garland ISD set the record straight. Quoting again from the NBC DFW report again
"This is one of several cultural and religious-based groups and events that we have there at the center,” Chris Moore, Garland ISD spokesperson told NBC DFW on Friday. “And we’re going to keep that open to them. This is a non-discriminatory facility.”

There was good news. There were hot tempers but no violence reported.

So thank you for joining me on the retelling of my meander; starting with a building constructed by the Ku Klux Klan Klavern No. 101 in 1920; moving on thru the struggles of blacks in America to find racial justice and a sense of peace and harmony with the culture; and then on to a battle against religious bigotry in Garland.

That is almost 100 years of history in North Texas.  We started with a Klan Klavern big and prosperous enough to support a large public auditorium. This means the Klan was a player in the local institutions of the time; The Klan was embedded into the culture. Then to 2015, the bigots are standing on the street corner and the public institutions are on the side of peace and harmony.

The tenor of the times has changed. The side of truth and light and empathy and understanding is winning  The fight is not nearly done.

I have high hopes that a lot of bigots will soon have some new experiences that help them understand that we are all human, with hopes and dreams and fears and prejudices; but we have more in common than we think, and we have much more power to change the world for the better- more prosperity- more opportunity- when we work together.

People have really big brains. All it takes is a little brain virus that contradicts the years of myths and hate that one learns at home. How can we help people broaden their experiences?

Any thoughts? Add them below. We will be returning to the theme of new learning experience later.

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