Skip to content

Prof. Boerner's Explorations

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


Tag: African American

Edited by Gerald Boerner


Introductory Comments:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbToday in History features one major international and three major domestic events. The international event was the discovery, in 1972, an Imperial Japanese soldier, Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi, in a jungle cave on the island of Guam. Our U.S. Marines took the island of Guam during the summer of 1944 after a hard fought battle during the Pacific island-hopping campaign on our way to the home islands of Japan during World War II. These Japanese soldiers were known for their tenacity, hard fighting, and resistance to surrendering to the American troops. Sgt. Yokoi was found living in a cave using weapons and tools that he had crafted himself during this period of time.


On the domestic front, the major event associated with this day in history took place in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Coloma, California, in 1848. While building a sawmill for John A. Sutter, the contractor, James W. Marshall, discovered flakes of gold in the American River. Why is this event so important? It triggered one of the biggest migrations to the west coast of our country into the former Mexican territory of (Alta) California. This event, the California Gold Rush of 1848; these “Forty-Niners,” flocked to the gold fields seeking their fortunes. They came via almost every possible mode of transportation — by steamship, wagon train, horseback, and even by foot. They traveled through Indian territory or around the treacherous cape of South America. But most failed to make their fortunes and many died as a result of the elements or lawlessness of the boom towns built at the gold fields and then abandoned to the elements when the gold ran out to become another ghost town. Who were the winners? The merchants who sold supplies to these hopeful miners and to the new cities of Sacramento and San Francisco. The population of the territory swelled, the former Mexican inhabitants were replaced by the new settlers, and the territory finally became the 31st state in 1850.


On a sadder note, this day in 1956 witnessed the acquittal of the two men accused of kidnapping and murdering of an African American teenager visiting Mississippi from the Chicago area in 1955. This teen, Emmett Till, was accused of flirting with a white woman working in her husband’s store. They took him from the home of the relatives that he was visiting, transported him into the woods, and murdered him after torturing him as punishment for “not knowing his place.” Till was the victim of the cultural differences between the North (Chicago area) and the South (rural Mississippi) during the waning days of the reign of Jim Crow. The men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant were accused of the crime and brought to trial. He was tried in Mississippi by an all-white jury who readily acquitted them of the crime. Only through extensive activity by civil rights activists did the facts arise; these men confessed to the crimes in a Look Magazine interview, but due to double jeopardy limitations they could not be retried using the confession. But this incident was an early skirmish in the Civil Rights Movement that reached its fruition in the 1960s under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, we shared the famous Apple Computer commercial at the Super Bowl in 1984 that introduced the Macintosh Computer. Today saw the first opportunity of the people of America to purchase this cute little computer with its 128K of memory, 9” black and white high-resolution screen, a mouse (pointing device) and preinstalled software for word processing (MacWrite) and graphics (MacPaint). This computer was the first wide-distribution computer to use a Graphic User Interface (GUI) and was relatively expensive, especially compared to the IBM-PC. It was the darling of the creative and artistic types then and has continued to be to this day. It sold like hotcakes and started the phenomenon that is Apple. These computers blossomed and remains innovative as do its “little brothers,” the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. They all reflected the free-thinking of their developer, Steve Jobs.


On the lighter side, several important events that were not as earthshaking but probably impacted more people than the above events occurred on this day. A school teacher, Christian K. Nelson, received a patent on this day in 1922 for combining a block of ice cream and chocolate coating into the iconic snack food, the Eskimo Pie ice cream bar. In 1935, a small brewing company in Virginia was the first to package their beer and ale in the first beer cans. And, an inventor, Percy Spencer, who lacked even a grammar school education, received a patent for the microwave oven in 1950. These small items have been helpful to more people than any of the other events discussed above.

We now will proceed to examine some of the events that are associated with day in history... GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1416 Words ]


Quotations Related to Macintosh:

[ ]


“I think the Macintosh proves that everyone can have a bitmapped display.”
— Bill Joy

“My first Macintosh was a 128k machine which I upgraded to 512k the minute it became possible.”
— Buffy Sainte-Marie

“Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc, which set the computing world on its ear with the Macintosh in 1984.”
— Kevin Mitnick

“The Macintosh having shipped, his next agenda was to turn the rest of Apple into the Mac group. He had perceived the rest of Apple wasn’t as creative or motivated as the Mac team, and what you need to take over the company are managers, not innovators or technical people.”
— Andy Hertzfeld

“Most people have no concept of how an automatic transmission works, yet they know how to drive a car. You don’t have to study physics to understand the laws of motion to drive a car. You don’t have to understand any of this stuff to use Macintosh.”
— Steve Jobs

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner


Introductory Comments:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbThis was a day on which a number of significant events are noteworthy, especially on the international scene. On this day in 1968, the USS Pueblo and her crew were captured by the North Koreans when the ship navigated out of international  waters. The crew would be held captive for eleven months before being released. Why was this such an important event? The USS Pueblo was an intelligence ship and carried sophisticated surveillance equipment that would be useful to our possible future enemies.


But the more important international event on this day in 1973 was the announcement by President Richard Nixon of the peace accord negotiated by our National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Doc Tho. The Paris Peace Accords set the conditions for a cease fire between the two countries, the withdrawal of American troops, and the release of the American POWs. These accords were formally signed on January 27th. The Vietnam War had generated a deal of dissent among the draft-aged college population.

JrobinsonOn the home front, this day was marked by some relatively minor events and a couple of blockbuster events. The first of the blockbusters was the induction of that great African American, multi-sport star, Jackie Robinson, into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 (Cooperstown, Ohio). Robinson was a multisport athlete at UCLA and then played in the Negro Leagues down South; the major leagues were still segregated. But in 1947, Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Robinson to a contract to play for the Major League team — he broke the “color” barrier. During his early years on the team, he was showered by jeers, racial slurs, and discriminatory treatment, but he “turned the other cheek” and let his play speak for him. And what a speech that was! He was outstanding and opened the way for other Blacks, Hispanics, and other minority players to enter the major leagues. His induction into the Hall of Fame was another barrier that he broke; all previous “negroes” were in a separate Hall of Fame for the Negro Leagues. Robinson was inducted on the first try by a unanimous vote in 1962, the first year that he was eligible. He was a real “man’s man”!

Roots_25th_Anniversary_EditionThe other blockbuster event that occurred on this day was a miniseries that aired on ABC-TV for eight days starting this day in 1977. What miniseries was this? ROOTS, the story of an African who was captured by a slaving tribe in his native West African homeland, sold to white slavers, surviving the ocean voyage to the American South where he would be sold into the degradation of slavery on a southern plantation. The story was based on the book, Roots, by Alex Haley and purportedly represents his family’s experience in America through a slave, Kunta Kinte, played by the unknown Black actor, LeVar Burton (who would later star in Star Trek, The Next Generation.) The nation would be captivated for the next week and would come face-to-face with the horrors of slavery. This was a breakthrough a major cultural barrier and a basis for cultural understanding. Who can forget the baby held by his father and lifted up to the sky in dedication (baptism, if you will). This miniseries, I believe, brought a whole new sense of pride and hope for a past as well as a future to new generations of Blacks.

A critical event occurred during the legislative flurry of LBJ’s Great Society was the passage of Twenty-Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in 1964. This amendment barred the imposition of poll taxes and other barriers used to keep African Americans from voting in Federal Elections. The major impact of this amendment was upon southern states where it was used to prevent the poor and African American populations from voting and thus upsetting the status quo.

And the final major event of this day was Elizabeth Blackwell becoming the first female in the United States to receive a medical doctorate in 1849. After being rejected by the major medical schools, she was admitted to Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York; she would provide medical services to the troops during the Civil War and opened the way for the women of later years to become physicians, not just nurses or midwives.

Of much less consequence were several other event that are associated with this day. The first permanent bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minnesota was opened in 1855. The Wham-O Toy Company produced and sold a new concept in toys, the “Pluto Platter,” or Frisbie, patterned after the pie tins used by the Frisbie Pie Company; the game based on this toy was a rage amongst university students. 

We now will proceed to examine some of the events that are associated with day in history... GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1361 Words ]


Quotations Related to Jackie Robinson:

[ ]


“Above anything else, I hate to lose.”
— Jackie Robinson

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
— Jackie Robinson

“There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
— Jackie Robinson

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”
— Jackie Robinson

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
— Jackie Robinson

“The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.”
— Jackie Robinson

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner



JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumbThe 1960s was a groundbreaking era on many fronts. It saw a major push for women’s rights in all areas of life, especially the workplace and in the control of their bodies. Students were pushing for more say in their college education, especially curriculum. The United States was fighting an unpopular war in Southeast Asia — Vietnam. And, of course, there was the demand of African Americans and Hispanics for equal rights in fact, not just in theory. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marches throughout the South against the KKK and Jim Crow Laws. In California, Caesar Chavez was leading Hispanic marchers in the Table Grape Boycott to win better working conditions for California’s migrant field workers..


A new, young president, John F. Kennedy, came on the scene with a new vision for our country. He called for our people to contribute to the betterment of the needy in other countries through Service by Peace Corp volunteers. He called on our science and engineering community to put a man on the moon, and return him safely to earth, by the end of the decade of the 1960s. But he also wanted to help improve the lot of those living in the oft-neglected urban areas of our country. To this end, he proposed a new, cabinet-level Department of Housing and Urban Development. But the Congress dominated by Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats blocked him on this move.

The idea of a separate department to provide better housing to urban dwellers was not dead. The torch was picked up and carried by President Lyndon B. Johnson following the assassination of JFK. Johnson pushed multiple pieces of Civil Rights legislation through the Congress, including the Voting Rights Act. In 1965, he was able to achieve passage of a bill to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As the new cabinet-level Secretary of the department, he appointed the long time urban affairs expert and administrator — Robert C. Weaver. Weaver was confirmed by the Senate and became the first African American Cabinet Member. He paved the way for other African Americans and Hispanics to make their rightful contributions to the government of this great country.


But now, let’s get started with our exploration of the first Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who, by the way, was an African American. Weaver was well qualified for the post by his education and experience in government from the time of the Black Cabinet created by FDR during the years of the New Deal. So, let us begin… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 2670 Words ]


Quotations Related to Urban:

[ ]


“Companies operating in urban communities have a tremendous ripple effect.”
— Michael Porter

“Everyone’s looking to the urban scene for inspiration now.”
— Robin Gibb

“How does he support Clinton’s urban agenda? He doesn’t know what it is.”
— Maxine Waters

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner


Introductory Comments:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbThe events of this day include several related to the achievements of women and minority groups. It is also the day of several patriotic events of pride and/or challenge related to the winter encampment of the Continental Army troops in Valley Forge during the severe cold of 1778. And it is the day on which the “Man in Black”, western singer Johnny Cash, released his best-selling album, “Folsom Prison Blues”. But many of today’s most important events relate to the discrimination against the Jews and the overcoming these prejudices by well-qualified African American leaders.

Folsom State Prison

Of course, being a country music fan and one that loves the song stylings of Johnny Cash, the release of one of his albums was a high point in my life in 1968 when this album finally arrived. After struggling with a drug habit and serving a prison term himself, Johnny Cash welcomed the opportunity to entertain the men in this prison. To put this event in context, the song on this album came out and were calm compared with the turbulent events going on at that time in our country. This was the year of “flower power” and we would see the release of the Beatles’ White Album later that year. It was also the year of losses — Robert (“Bobby”) Kennedy would be assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California Presidential Primary and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would be assassinated at that motel in Memphis, Tennessee. This was the “best of time, and the worst of times” to borrow a phrase from Charles Dickens.

This was the day in which several achievements need to be honored. Sarah Caldwell became the first woman to conduct the orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976. In 1978, six women were admitted as candidates in the astronaut program at NASA. These women — Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan — would all fly on various space shuttle missions. Quite a feat. 

African Americans also made some significant headway in some of today’s events as well. Charles Weaver was appointed as Secretary of the new Department of Housing and Urban Development by Lyndon Johnson in 1966. This was a crowning event for Weaver who had started out as FDR’s advisor on Urban Affairs in several New Deal agencies. He had earned three degrees in Urban Affairs from Harvard University. He also served on FDR’s Black Cabinet with 45 other African Americans; this group advised FDR on many issues over the pre-war years. During John F. Kennedy’s administration, he was “tagged” to become Secretary of the new Department of Urban Affairs proposed by JFK, but when this proposal was defeated by a coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats, he continued to be JFK’s advisor on urban issues. After Kennedy’s assassination, LBJ was able to get a new Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Congress and appoint Weaver as its first Secretary. Since this was a Presidential Cabinet-level position, Weaver became the first African American on the cabinet.


In 1990, Douglas Wilder of Virginia was sworn in as the first Black governor of a state. This paved the way for other Blacks to get elected to various posts, including the U.S. Senate. African Americans were making their mark on this country.

On another note, the Anti-Semitic attitudes of the European military was highlighted by the Dreyfus Affair in France in 1898. Captain Dreyfus, a Jew, was accused of treason by the prejudiced officers that he fought with. He was convicted on these charges and sent to prison. The writer and crusader, Émile Zola took up his cause and wrote an open letter (J’Accuse) to the newspaper L’Aurore in Paris. This served to rally public opinion and put pressure to overturn Captain Dreyfus’ conviction. They were successful and Dreyfus’ conviction was overturned.

The real lesson from this incident is rather simple — the officer corps of the French and German general command were racist and anti-Semitic. The Dreyfus Affair foreshadowed the events of almost half a century later in Nazi Germany. As the Holocaust was implemented in Germany, the French military in the Vichy government wholeheartedly cooperated in the finding and exporting Jews from France to meet their “Final Solution” in the Nazi death camps. Such deep-seated discrimination is dangerous in any society, but even more so when carried out the prevailing authorities, military or civilian. Let’s take a hard look at our own attitudes in these interactions.

Anyway, it is now time to proceed with our examination of the notable events of this day… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1311 Words ]


Quotations Related to (Valley) Forge:

[ ]


“I will, from this day strive to forge togetherness out of our differences.”
— Josefa Iloilo

“The achievements we forge in this place and in our nation will not be those of one person or one party.”
— Paul Martin

“The transfer is a monumental occasion as the Iraqi people take control of their government and their future and forge ahead with creating a society governed by the tenets of life, liberty and freedom.”
— Jim Gerlach

“The good Lord made us all out of iron. Then he turns up the heat to forge some of us into steel.”
— Marie Osmond

“From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge, to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, our soldiers have courageously answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.”
— Solomon Ortiz

continue reading…

Edited 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

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

Special Tribute

Rosa Parks in RotndaOctober 30, 2005
Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who was arrested 50 years earlier for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, is the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

[ 1032 Words ]


Quotations Related to ROSA PARKS

“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

continue reading…