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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

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Archive for February 6th, 2010
by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today, we start a new series of postings on Photographic Concepts that will look at how to choose the right lens and/or lens setting for each situation. We have just finished our series on “Drawing with Light” in which we explored the working and settings of the camera. Today’s post will attend primarily to the reason we need to use a lens to guide the light into our camera to produce a GREAT image. We will look at how images vary according to the Focal Length of the Lens, whether it is in a SLR or a compact camera. We will be posting additional entries on this topic over the coming weekends. Enjoy it and we hope that it will help your improve your photo images.  GLB

    

“I would love to have a photographic memory. It would come in handy with the rants I’m given on Scrubs… often on short notice!”
— John C. McGinley

“I don’t think I think when I play. I have a photographic memory for chords, and when I’m playing, the right chords appear in my mind like photographs long before I get to them.”
— Earl Hines

“I have this certain vision of the way I want my comics to look; this sort of photographic realism, but with a certain abstraction that comics can give. It’s kind of a fine line.”
— Daniel Clowes

“I was brought in, not in the photographic department at all, I was brought in on a thing called Special Skills. I was to do posters, pamphlets, murals, propaganda in general, you know.”
— Ben Shahn

“I was extravagant in the matter of cameras – anything photographic – I had to have the best. But that was to further my work. In most things I have gone along with the plainest – or without.”
— Edward Weston

“I was making $50 a week as a house model at Christian Dior for nine months before I learned that photographic models made $50 an hour!”
— Lauren Hutton

“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.”
— W. Eugene Smith

“The particular features of the photographic method of detecting atomic particles enabled us to establish the existence of transient forms of matter which had escaped recognition by other methods.”
— Cecil Frank Powell

  

Choosing Your Lens: Overview of Operation

Lens_Canon_EF_50mm_f1.4 A photographic lens (also known as objective lens or photographic objective) is an optical lens or assembly of lenses used in conjunction with a camera body and mechanism to make images of objects either on photographic film or on other media capable of storing an image chemically or electronically.

While in principle a simple convex lens will suffice, in practice a compound lens made up of a number of optical lens elements is required to correct (as much as possible) the many optical aberrations that arise. Some aberrations will be present in any lens system. It is the job of the lens designer to balance these out and produce a design that is suitable for photographic use and possibly mass production.

There is no major difference in principle between a lens used for a camera, a telescope, a microscope, or other apparatus, but the detailed design and construction are different.

A lens may be permanently fixed to a camera, or it may be interchangeable with lenses of different focal lengths, apertures, and other properties.

Basic Theory of Operation

Pinhole-camera.svg Most photographic lenses can be thought of as modified pinhole lenses. A pinhole lens would be excellent except for a few serious limitations. They are limited in their resolution because, while geometric optics says that making the pinhole smaller improves resolution, this also reduces light; furthermore, diffraction limits the effectiveness of shrinking the hole.

Most photographic lenses can be thought of as an answer to the question "how can we modify a pinhole lens to admit more light and give higher resolution?" A first step is to put a simple convex lens at the pinhole with a focal length equal to the distance to the film plane (assuming the camera will take pictures of distant objects). This allows us to open up the pinhole a bit. The geometry is almost the same as with a simple pinhole lens, but rather than being illuminated by single rays of light, each image point is illuminated by a focused "pencil" of light rays. Standing out in the world, you would see the small hole. This image is known as the entrance pupil: all rays of light leaving an object point that enters this pupil will be focused to the same point on the film. If one were inside the camera, one would see the lens acting as a projector. The image of aperture is the exit pupil.

Big_pinhole.svg

With a large pinhole, the image spot is large,
resulting in a blurry image.

Tiny_pinhole-diffraction.svg

With a small pinhole, light is reduced and diffraction
prevents the image spot from getting arbitrarily small.

Big_pinhole_with_lens.svg

With a simple lens, much more light can be
brought into sharp focus.

Practical photographic lenses include more lens elements. The additional elements allow lens designers to reduce various aberrations, but the principle of operation remains the same: pencils of rays are collected at the entrance pupil and focused down from the exit pupil onto the image plane.

Aperture and Focal Length

Focal_length How focal length affects
photograph composition:
adjusting the camera’s
distance from the main
subject while changing focal
length, the main subject
can remain the same size,
while the other at a different
distance changes size.

The two fundamental parameters of an optical lens are the focal length and the maximum aperture. The lens’ focal length determines the magnification of the image projected onto the image plane, and the aperture the light intensity of that image. For a given photographic system the focal length determines the angle of view, short focal lengths giving a wider field of view than longer focal length lenses. The wider the aperture, identified by a smaller f-number, allows using a faster shutter speed for the same exposure.

The maximum usable aperture of a lens is specified as the focal ratio or f-number, defined as the lens’ focal length divided by the effective aperture (or entrance pupil), a dimensionless number. The lower the f-number, the higher light intensity at the focal plane. Larger apertures (smaller f-numbers) provide a much shallower depth of field than smaller apertures, other conditions being equal. Practical lens assemblies may also contain mechanisms to deal with measuring light, secondary apertures for flare reduction, and mechanisms to hold the aperture open until the instant of exposure to allow SLR cameras to focus with a brighter image with shallower depth of field, theoretically allowing better focus accuracy.

Aperures Large (top) and small (bottom)
aperture settings on the
same lens are shown.

Focal lengths are usually specified in millimetres (mm), but older lenses might be marked in centimetres (cm) or inches. For a given film or sensor size, specified by the length of the diagonal, a lens may be classified as a:

  • Normal lens:
    angle of view of the diagonal about 50° and a focal length approximately equal to the image diagonal.
  • Wide-angle lens:
    angle of view wider than 60° and focal length shorter than normal.
  • Telephoto lens or long-focus lens:
    angle of view narrower and focal length longer than normal. A distinction is sometimes made between a long-focus lens and a true telephoto lens: the telephoto lens has a telephoto group to reduce the physically length of the objective.
  • Macro lens:
    special lens corrected optically for close-ups, e.g., for images to object ratios ranging from about 1:10 to 1:1. and having a particularly flat image plane suitable for flat images. A macro lens may be of any focal length, the actual focus length being determined by its practical use, considering magnification the required ratio, access to the subject and illumination considerations.
How Does Lens Choice Affect Angle of View?

An example of how lens choice affects angle of view. The photos below were taken by a 35 mm camera at a constant distance from the subject.

28 mm lensAngle of view_28mm_f4

 

50 mm lensAngle of view_50mm_f4

 

70 mm lensAngle of view_70mm_f4

 

210 mm lensAngle of view_210mm_f4

A side effect of using lenses of different focal lengths is the different distances from which a subject can be framed, resulting in a different perspective. Photographs can be taken of a person stretching out a hand with a wideangle, a normal lens, and a telephoto, which contain exactly the same image size by changing the distance from the subject. But the perspective will be different. With the wideangle, the hands will be exaggeratedly large relative to the head. As the focal length increases, the emphasis on the outstretched hand decreases. However, if pictures are taken from the same distance, and enlarged and cropped to contain the same view, the pictures will have identical perspective. A moderate long-focus (telephoto) lens is often recommended for portraiture because the perspective corresponding to the longer shooting distance is considered to look more flattering.

Apparent Influence of Lens Focal Length on Image perspective

Although in practice a photographer intuitively perceives a natural relation between perspective and the focal lengths he is using, no such relation actually exists. The immediate reason for this impression is that lenses of different angles of view may be used differently; wide-angle lenses tend to be used close-up and telephoto lenses for photographing distant motives. Cameras or lenses with tilt/swing facilities don’t really change perspective, but rather distort the image by oblique projection onto the image plane. The only factor controlling the perspective is the distance from the motive to the lens’ front nodal point. Anyone can check this fact by doing some fundamental geometric sketching on a piece of paper.

An example illustrating this is the "portrait" lens. It typically has a field of view that includes a person’s head and shoulder in the image at a favourable distance, e.g. ten feet or so. At such distance, the features in the face are rendered in reasonable proportions, without too much emphasis on any single feature, like the nose. The closer the camera gets the larger appears the closest features.

Photographing a distant scene with a wide-angle lens will yield the exact same "compressed" perspective associated with a telephoto lens; enlarging the same section of the wide-angle image as that photographed with the latter will confirm this fact. When it comes to looking at a picture, the distance from which it is viewed will also influence the way in which it is perceived. The perspective in the image will determine the most agreeable viewing distance.

Selecting a Lens

Telephoto Mechanism When one looks at the specifications for a “compact”, digital camera, one that has a non-interchangeable lens. A telephoto mechanism, such as the one to the right, will likely be included. One will likely encounter a description such as the Canon PowerShot G11 camera which list the following specs for the lens:

Lens

  • Focal Length:
    6.1 (W) – 30.5mm
    (35mm film equivalent: 28 (W) – 140 (T) mm)
  • Digital Zoom:
    5x
  • Focusing Range:
    Normal: 1.6 ft./50cm-infinity
    Macro: 0.4 in.-1.6 ft./1-50cm
  • Autofocus System:
    TTL Autofocus

So, what do these numbers mean? First of all, keep in mind that most digital cameras use a image sensor that is smaller than the typical 35mm film (or “full-frame”) camera. Therefore, the minimum (wide-angle) and maximum (telephoto) settings are given by two numbers each. That is, The Focal Length for the wide-angle is 6.1mm, which is equivalent to 28mm in a 35mm camera. Likewise, the Focal Length for the Telephoto is 30.5mm, which is equivalent to 140mm in a 35mm camera. This multiplication factor is 1.6, but that factor will vary from camera to camera and vendor to vendor.

The Focal Length settings from the wide-angle to the telephoto refer to the optical zoom properties. Many digital camera, especially on the lower end, price-wise, will include a digital zoom factor as well. In the case of the G11, this is 5x, or five times the image size. This may sound great, but beware: this artificially creates an image by taking the actual pixels of the image and create more “in between” to accomplish this greater zoom. Therefore, you are getting an image that will have a lot of digital “noise”, e.g., an image of relatively poor quality.

A Word to the Wise:

Do NOT Turn Digital Zoom On!

The Autofocus System refers to how the automatic focusing system of the camera works. In this case, it uses a “Through-the-Lens” (TTL) autofocus system. Other lenses use an infrared or some other beam to determine the focal distance. This information is used to adjust the lens’ focal length to obtain a sharp focus in automatic (autofocus) mode. It does not affect focusing in the manual (manual focus) mode.

That’s about it! I hope that the above explanation will help you understand a little better about the lens in your compact digital camera. Next time we will look at SLR and dSLR lenses in more detail. These are the lenses that can be changed out and they allow you to choose the lens most appropriate to your situation.

     

References:

Barbara London, Jim Stone, & John Upton. (2008) Photography. Pearson, Prentice-Hall

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: The Camera… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera

Wikipedia: Photographic Lens…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_lens

Web Sites and Blogs:

Camerapedia.org: Lens (Composition Details)…
http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Lenses

Photo.Net: Lens Tutorial (Technical)…
http://photo.net/learn/optics/lensTutorial

BrainyQuote: Photographic Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/photographic.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031Today we take a look at the life of Rosa Parks. This brave woman, while slight in structure, made the stand against the Jim Crow laws that created a two class system in the south. We continue this series with one of this women who was involved in one of the triggering events leading to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

On the way back home after a hard day at work, Rosa Parks was asked to yield her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white man. And this was not a request due to intentionally sitting in the white section of the bus! No, she sat in the back section of the bus, but as it progressed along its route, additional white riders boarded and were force to stand while there were empty seats in the Colored section of the bus. Rosa Parks sat in the forward part of the Colored section; at one of the stops, the bus driver, in order to make more seats available for the white riders, moved the demarcation sign behind where Parks was seated.

She was then requested to relocate to the new Colored section. She refused, was arrested, and taken to jail. This triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She did not start out as an activist, but became active after her experience; her life has many valuable lessons for the rest of us. Equity belongs to us all: male or female; black, hispanic, or white; sexual preference; or any other dimension that distinguishes one person from anotherGLB

    

“Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
— Rosa Parks

“I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“I did not get on the bus to get arrested I got on the bus to go home.”
— Rosa Parks

“We didn’t have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down.”
— Rosa Parks

“I didn’t want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times, even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all. They’d probably shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there.”
— Attributed to Rosa Parks

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
— Rosa Parks

“I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day, but I don’t think there is anything such as complete happiness. It pains me that there is still a lot of Klan activity and racism. I think when you say you’re happy, you have everything that you need and everything that you want, and nothing more to wish for. I haven’t reached that stage yet.”
— Rosa Parks

  

Black Women in History: Rosa Parks

Rosaparks Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913 – 2005) was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement."

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind: Irene Morgan, in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys, in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Interstate Commerce Commission respectively in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks’ action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks’ act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers’ rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.

Rosa_Parks_BusParks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Congressional Gold Medal, a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States’ leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

Early Years

Under Jim Crow laws, black and white people were segregated in virtually every aspect of daily life in the South, including public transportation. Bus and train companies did not provide separate vehicles for the different races but did enforce seating policies that allocated separate sections for blacks and whites. School bus transportation was unavailable in any form for black schoolchildren in the South. Parks recalled going to elementary school in Pine Level, where school buses took white students to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs: "I’d see the bus pass every day… But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."

Rosa_Louise_McCauley_Parks_in_1979Although Parks’ autobiography recounts that some of her earliest memories are of the kindness of white strangers, her situation made it impossible to ignore racism. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of her house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists, and its faculty was ostracized by the white community.

In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery, at her mother’s house. Raymond was a member of the NAACP, at the time collecting money to support the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women. After her marriage, Rosa took numerous jobs, ranging from domestic worker to hospital aide. At her husband’s urging, she finished her high school studies in 1933, at a time when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma. Despite the Jim Crow laws that made political participation by black people difficult, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try.

In December 1943, Parks became active in the Civil Rights Movement, joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected volunteer secretary to its president, Edgar Nixon. Of her position, she later said, "I was the only woman there, and they needed a secretary, and I was too timid to say no." She continued as secretary until 1957. In the 1940s, Parks and her husband were members of the Voters’ League. Sometime soon after 1944, she held a brief job at Maxwell Air Force Base, a federally owned area where racial segregation was not allowed, and rode on an integrated trolley. Speaking to her biographer, Parks noted, "You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up." Parks worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for a white couple, Clifford and Virginia Durr. The politically liberal Durrs became her friends and encouraged Parks to attend—and eventually helped sponsor her—at the Highlander Folk School, an education center for workers’ rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee, in the summer of 1955.

Rosa_Parks_Old_GM_Bus_serial_number_1132_interior_No_2857 Many people were moved by the brutal murder of Emmett Till in August 1955. On November 27, 1955—only four days before she refused to give up her seat—she later recalled that she had attended a mass meeting in Montgomery which focused on this case as well as the recent murders of George W. Lee and Lamar Smith. The featured speaker at the meeting was T.R.M. Howard, a black civil rights leader from Mississippi who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership.

Events leading up to boycott

In 1944, athletic star Jackie Robinson took a similar stand in a confrontation with a United States Army officer in Fort Hood, Texas, refusing to move to the back of a bus. Robinson was brought before a court-martial, which acquitted him. The NAACP had accepted and litigated other cases before, such as that of Irene Morgan ten years earlier, which resulted in a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court on Commerce Clause grounds. That victory, however, overturned state segregation laws only insofar as they applied to travel in interstate commerce, such as interstate bus travel, and Southern bus companies immediately circumvented the Morgan ruling by instituting their own Jim Crow regulations.

Rosa_Parks_BookingIn November, 1955, just three weeks before Parks’ defiance of Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in response to a complaint filed by WAC Sarah Keys, closed the legal loophole left by the Morgan ruling in a landmark case known as Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. The ICC prohibited individual carriers from imposing their own segregation rules on interstate travelers, declaring that to do so was a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Interstate Commerce Act. But neither the Supreme Court’s Morgan ruling nor the ICC’s Keys ruling addressed the matter of Jim Crow travel within the individual states.

Black activists had begun to build a case to challenge state bus segregation laws around the arrest of a 15-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from a public bus when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She claimed that her constitutional rights were being violated. At the time, Colvin was active in the NAACP Youth Council, a group to which Parks served as Advisor.

Parks was raising money for Colvin’s defense, but when E.D. Nixon learned that Colvin was pregnant, it was decided that Colvin was an unsuitable symbol for their cause. Soon after her arrest she had conceived a child with a much older married man, a moral transgression that scandalized the deeply religious black community. Strategists believed that the segregationist white press would use Colvin’s pregnancy to undermine any boycott. The NAACP also had considered, but rejected, earlier protesters deemed unable or unsuitable to withstand the pressures of cross-examination in a legal challenge to racial segregation laws. Colvin was also known to engage in verbal outbursts and cursing. Many of the legal charges against Colvin were dropped. A boycott didn’t materialize from the Colvin case, and legal strategists continued to seek a complainant beyond reproach.

Rosaparks_busdiagram Seat layout on the bus where
Parks sat, December 1, 1955.

In Montgomery, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had "colored" sections for black people—who made up more than 75% of the bus system’s riders—generally in the rear of the bus. These sections were not fixed in size but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people could sit in the middle rows, until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus. Black people were not allowed to sit across the aisle from white people. The driver also could move the "colored" section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people could board to pay the fare, but then had to disembark and reenter through the rear door. There were times when the bus departed before the black customers who had paid made it to the back entrance.

For years, the black community had complained that the situation was unfair, and Parks was no exception: "My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest…I did a lot of walking in Montgomery." Parks had her first run-in on the public bus on a rainy day in 1943, when the bus driver, James F. Blake, demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. As she began to exit by the front door, she dropped her purse. Parks sat down for a moment in a seat for white passengers to pick up her purse. The bus driver was enraged and barely let her step off the bus before speeding off.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

After a day at work at Montgomery Fair department store, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus at around 6 p.m., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of back seats reserved for blacks in the "colored" section, which was near the middle of the bus and directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she had not noticed that the bus driver was the same man, James F. Blake, who had left her in the rain in 1943. As the bus traveled along its regular route, all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several white passengers boarded.

Later years

Rosaparks_bus Parks on a Montgomery bus on
December 21, 1956, the day
Montgomery’s public transportation
system was legally integrated.
Behind Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss,
a UPI reporter covering the event.

After her arrest, Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement but suffered hardships as a result. She lost her job at the department store, and her husband quit his job after his boss forbade him from talking about his wife or the legal case. Parks traveled and spoke extensively. In 1957, Raymond and Rosa Parks left Montgomery for Hampton, Virginia; mostly because she was unable to find work, but also because of disagreements with King and other leaders of Montgomery’s struggling civil rights movement. In Hampton, she found a job as a hostess in an inn at black Hampton Institute. Later that year, after the urging of her brother and sister-in-law, Sylvester & Daisy McCauley, Rosa Parks, her husband Raymond, and her mother Leona McCauley, moved to Detroit, Michigan.

Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965 when African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers hired her as a secretary and receptionist for his congressional office in Detroit. She held this position until she retired in 1988. In a telephone interview with CNN on October 24, 2005, Conyers recalled, "You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person … There was only one Rosa Parks". Later in life, Parks served as a member of the Board of Advocates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

In 1980, Parks helped found the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college-bound high school seniors. Rosa Parks and Elaine Eason Steele co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in February 1987, in honor of Rosa’s husband, who died from cancer in 1977. The institute runs the "Pathways to Freedom" bus tours, which introduce young people to important civil rights and Underground Railroad sites throughout the country.

In 1992, Parks published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography aimed at younger readers which details her life leading up to her decision not to give up her seat. In 1995, she published her memoirs, titled Quiet Strength, which focuses on the role that her faith had played in her life.

Rosaparks_1964 Parks in 1964

On August 30, 1994, Joseph Skipper, an African-American drug addict, attacked 81-year-old Parks in her home. The incident sparked outrage throughout the United States. After his arrest, Skipper said that he had not known he was in Parks’ home but recognized her after entering. Skipper asked, "Hey, aren’t you Rosa Parks?" to which she replied, "Yes." She handed him $3 when he demanded money, and an additional $50 when he demanded more. Before fleeing, Skipper struck Parks in the face. Skipper was arrested and charged with various breaking and entering offenses against Parks and other neighborhood victims. He admitted guilt and, on August 8, 1995, was sentenced to eight to 15 years in prison.

In 1994 the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor a portion of United States Interstate 55 in Saint Louis County and Jefferson County, near St. Louis, Missouri for clean up (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). Since the state could not refuse the KKK’s sponsorship, the Missouri legislature voted to name the highway section the "Rosa Parks Highway." When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of."

In March 1999, a lawsuit (Rosa Parks v. LaFace Records) was filed on Parks’ behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast and LaFace Records, claiming that the group had illegally used Rosa Parks’ name without her permission for the song "Rosa Parks", the most successful radio single of OutKast’s 1998 album Aquemini. The lawsuit was settled April 15, 2005. In the settlement agreement, OutKast and their producer and recorded labels paid Parks an undisclosed cash settlement and agreed to work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in creating educational programs about the life of Rosa Parks. The record labels and OutKast admitted to no wrongdoing. It is not known whether Parks’ legal fees were paid for from her settlement money or by the record companies.

Rosa_Parks_medal A comedic scene in the 2002 film Barbershop featured a cantankerous barber, played by Cedric the Entertainer, arguing with co-workers and shop patrons that other African Americans before Parks had resisted giving up their seats in defiance of Jim Crow laws, and that she had received undeserved fame because of her status as an NAACP secretary. Activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton launched a boycott against the film, contending it was "disrespectful", but NAACP president Kweisi Mfume stated he thought the controversy was "overblown." The scene offended Parks, who boycotted the NAACP 2003 Image Awards ceremony, which Cedric hosted. Barbershop received nominations in four awards categories that, including a "Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture" nomination for Cedric.

    

References:

Paula J. Giddings. (1996) When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. Harper

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Rosa Parks…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks

WikiQuote: Rosa Parks…
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks

Other Web Sites:

Troy University: Rosa Parks Museum and Library…  
http://montgomery.troy.edu/rosaparks/museum/

NPR: Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks Dies…
(with Audio Tribute: Remembrance by Cheryl Corley)
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4973548&sourceCode=gaw

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today’s posting honors the birthdate of the fortieth president, Ronald Reagan. He was born in a small town in Illinois, grew up playing football, and became a “B-Rated” movie star. After years in the movie industry, including terms as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, he turned conservative and entered politics.

He became more conservative and won the Governorship of California after a series of liberal governors. This led to his eventual campaigns for the presidency, which he lost in 1984 (in the primaries) but won in both 1980 and 1984. He will be remembered for his anti-communist position as well as his eventual relationship with Gorbachov and establishment of “détente”. Also under his presidency the fall of communism in Europe ended the Cold War.

We were all sadden when he announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  GLB

    

“A people free to choose will always choose peace.”
— Ronald Reagan

“A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at?”
— Ronald Reagan

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”
— Ronald Reagan

“But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.”
— Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan Born in Illinois

REAGAN WH Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 – 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Prior to his political career Reagan was also a famous motion picture actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in 52 movie productions and gaining enough success to become a household name. Though often described as a B film actor, he starred in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric (GE); his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

REAGANMONEYSPEECH2 Reagan gives a televised address
from the Oval Office, outlining his
plan for Tax Reduction Legislation
in July 1981

As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics”, advocated reduced business regulation, controlling inflation, reducing growth in government spending, and spurring economic growth through tax cuts. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming it was “Morning in America”. His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, namely the ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”, he supported anti-Communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries’ nuclear arsenals.

Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. He ranks highly among former U.S. presidents in terms of approval rating, but has a more mixed perception in presidential surveys.

Governor of California, 1967–1975

GOV REAGAN Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrate
Reagan’s gubernatorial victory at the
Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

California Republicans were impressed with Reagan’s political views and charisma after his “Time for Choosing” speech, and nominated him for Governor of California in 1966. In Reagan’s campaign, he emphasized two main themes: “to send the welfare bums back to work”, and regarding burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, “to clean up the mess at Berkeley”. He was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, and was sworn in on January 3, 1967. His swearing-in occurred at 9 minutes past midnight. Reagan explained in 1988 that this time was chosen because his predecessor, Edmund G. Brown, “had been filling up the ranks of appointments and judges” in the days before his term ended. Professor Marcello Truzzi, a sociologist at Eastern Michigan University who studied the Reagans’ interest in astrology, regarded this explanation as “preposterous”, as the decision to be sworn in at that odd time of day was made six weeks earlier, and was based on advice from Reagan’s long-time friend, the astrologer Carroll Righter.

In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget. Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968 as part of a “Stop Nixon” movement, hoping to cut into Nixon’s Southern support and be a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican convention. However, by the time of the convention Nixon had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.

NIXONSandREAGANS The Reagans meeting with
then-President Richard Nixon
and First Lady Pat Nixon in
July 1970

Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People’s Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as “Bloody Thursday”. Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks in order to crack down on the protesters. When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”

Early in 1967, the national debate on abortion was beginning. Democratic California state senator Anthony Beilenson introduced the “Therapeutic Abortion Act”, in an effort to reduce the number of “back-room abortions” performed in California. The State Legislature sent the bill to Reagan’s desk where, after many days of indecision, he signed it. About two million abortions would be performed as a result, mostly because of a provision in the bill allowing abortions for the well-being of the mother. Reagan had been in office for only four months when he signed the bill, and stated that had he been more experienced as governor, it would not have been signed. After he recognized what he called the “consequences” of the bill, he announced that he was pro-life. He maintained that position later in his political career, writing extensively about abortion.

Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected in 1970, defeating “Big Daddy” Jesse M. Unruh. He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle. One of Reagan’s greatest frustrations in office concerned capital punishment, which he strongly supported. His efforts to enforce the state’s laws in this area were thwarted when the Supreme Court of California issued its People v. Anderson decision, which invalidated all death sentences issued in California prior to 1972, though the decision was later overturned by a constitutional amendment. The only execution during Reagan’s governorship was on April 12, 1967, when Aaron Mitchell’s sentence was carried out by the state in San Quentin’s gas chamber.

Reagan’s terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. By campaigning on a platform of sending “the welfare bums back to work”, he spoke out against the idea of the welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of less government regulation of the economy, including that of undue federal taxation.

The Presidency: First term, 1981–1985

The_Reagans_waving_from_the_limousine_during_the_Inaugural_Parade_1981 The Reagans wave from the limousine
taking them down Pennsylvania Avenue
to the White House, right after the
president’s inauguration

To date, Reagan is the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency (at 69). In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country’s economic malaise arguing: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

The Reagan Presidency began in a dramatic manner; as Reagan was giving his inaugural address, 52 U.S. hostages, held by Iran for 444 days were set free.

During this term, the following were the prominent events:

  • Assassination Attempt
  • Air Traffic Controllers’ Strike
  • “Reaganomics” and the Economy
  • Lebanon and Grenada, 1983
  • Escalation of the Cold War
  • 1984 Presidential Campaign
The Presidency: Second term, 1985–1989

Reagan was sworn in as president for the second time on January 20, 1985, in a private ceremony at the White House. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public celebration was not held but took place in the Capitol Rotunda the following day. January 21 was one of the coldest days on record in Washington, D.C.; due to poor weather, inaugural celebrations were held inside the Capitol.

President_Reagan_being_sworn_in_for_second_term_in_the_rotunda_at_the_U.S._Capitol_1985 Ronald Reagan is sworn in for a
second term as president in
the Capitol Rotunda

In 1985, Reagan visited a German military cemetery in Bitburg to lay a wreath with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. It was determined that the cemetery held the graves of 49 members of the Waffen-SS. Reagan issued a statement that called the Nazi soldiers buried in that cemetery “victims”, which ignited a stir over whether he had equated the SS men to Holocaust victims; Pat Buchanan, Director of Communications under Reagan, argued that the notion was false. Now strongly urged to cancel the visit, the president responded that it would be wrong to back down on a promise he had made to Chancellor Kohl. He attended the ceremony where two military generals laid a wreath.

The disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986 proved a pivotal moment in Reagan’s presidency. All seven astronauts aboard were killed. On the night of the disaster, Reagan delivered a speech written by Peggy Noonan in which he said:

The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave… We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

During this term, the following were the prominent events:

  • War on Drugs
  • Libya Bombing
  • Immigration
  • Iran-Contra Affair
  • End of the Cold War
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Judiciary
Post-presidential years, 1989–2004

Reagans_early_1990s Ronald and Nancy Reagan in
Los Angeles after leaving the
White House, early 1990s

After leaving office in 1989, the Reagans purchased a home in Bel Air, Los Angeles in addition to the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara. They regularly attended Bel Air Presbyterian Church and occasionally made appearances on behalf of the Republican Party; Reagan delivered a well-received speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Previously on November 4, 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated and opened to the public. At the dedication ceremonies, five presidents were in attendance, as well as six first ladies, marking the first time five presidents were gathered in the same location. Reagan continued to publicly speak in favor of a line-item veto; a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget; and the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president. In 1992 Reagan established the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award with the newly formed Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. His final public speech was on February 3, 1994 during a tribute to him in Washington, D.C., and his last major public appearance was at the funeral of Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.

Alzheimer’s disease

In August 1994, at the age of 83, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable neurological disorder which destroys brain cells and ultimately causes death. In November he informed the nation through a handwritten letter, writing in part:

I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease… At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done… I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.

     

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1788…
    Massachusetts becomes the sixth state to ratify the Constitution.
  • In 1862…
    The Union wins its first major victory in the Civil War, with the capture of of Fort Hood on the Tennessee River.
  • In 1899…
    The Senate ratifies the treaty ending the Spanish-American War.
  • In 1911…
    Ronald Reagan, the fortieth U.S. president, is born in Tampico, Illinois.
  • In 1971…
    Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard hits three golf balls on the moon.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Ronald Reagan…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

Web Sites and Blogs:

BrainyQuote.com: Ronald Reagan Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ronald_reagan.html