BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 144th: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week paying tribute to James Baughn also pays tribute to Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day took place on April 22nd and this year’s event is symbolic, for the United States under President Joe Biden has returned to the Paris Summit and to the table with two goals in mind:

  1. To fix the alliances with other countries, which were beset with hostility, ridicule and ignorance from the previous Presidency whose main slogan was „American First!“
  2. To challenge the countries to do more by setting their own ambitious goals of reducing Carbon Dioxide levels, reducing global warming and restoring the environment wherever is possible.

The Biden effect has played out in other countries, where the green movement in politics, policies and even personal preferences is in full swing. In Germany alone, the Greens party not only has a successor candidate for Chancellor in Germany in Annalena Baerbock, they also has one who is ambitious and has a plan to make Germany greener. At the time of this post, the Greens are leading the CDU party under the helm of current Chancellor Angela Merkel in the race, even though the German elections are five months away.

But putting aside the Green movement in politics, the Biden effect has had a pivotal effect for it shows that if you are a leader and set the benchmarks, the other countries will follow suit and not only reach (or even surpass) the benchmark, but also challenge others with their own goals. With China, Russia, the EU, India, Brazil and Japan as key players, this race to stop the rise in global temperatures and the subsequent climatic effects will eventually become the race to see who is the greenest and the biggets icon.

But how important is Earth Day?

Have a look at the photo taken by Mr. Baughn in 2015. It’s of the Herculaneum Bridge, spanning Joachim Creek on Highways 61 and 67 in Herculaneum in Jefferson County. The bridge was built in 1934 by M. E. Gillioz in Monett, Missouri. The bridge builder was responsible for dozens of bridge built in the 1930s, some of which are still in service today.

With the increase in the numbers and intensity of droughts and flooding, as well as extreme temperatures, this photo serves as a reminder of how dire the situation is. With flood water levels falling four feet shy of the bridge’s portal bracings, this photo shows the 15 foot tall Camelback through truss bridge almost completely covered in water. Normally you see bridges inundated when dams are built. But not like this.

This bridge was lucky because of its design and riveted connections. It had been rehabilitated prior to the flood. And at present, after emergancy inspections and repairs , this bridge is still in use.  Yet flooding has destroyed dozens of bridges globally, annually. Not just trusses, arches and trestles, but also modern bridges built only 20 years ago! There are enough examples to go around.

If this example is not convincing enough, ask yourself this question: How has your region changed over the past 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Compare this with the weather patterns your parents and grandparents have experienced and when finished, ask yourself this question:

Is this what we want? For our kids and grandkids?

When looking at our potential fourth year of drought coming our way in Germany and parts of Europe, combined with the death of forests in many areas in Saxony and Thuringia, and fewer amounts of snow in the winter, I can tell you my answer: No, this is not our planet. 😦

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John Lewis Dies: Renaming Selma (AL) Bridge Picking Up Speed Despite Opposition

Edmund Pettus (Still) in Selma, Alabama. Photo taken by James MacCray

SELMA, ALABAMA/ WASHINGTON, DC- Washington and the US are in mourning as the country lost a key player in the equal rights movements.

John Lewis, the revered civil rights pioneer who represented Georgia in Congress for nearly 35 years, died Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. He had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer since December last year.

Lewis became an icon of the 1960s civil rights movement through his leadership alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the non-violent protest movement and landmark peace marches of the era. He was a notable speaker at the 1963 March on Washington and in the consequential 1965 march in his native Alabama depicted in the 2014 film, “Selma.” On that day, March 7 1965, Lewis, along with fellow activist Hosea Williams led 600 people across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where they were met with a line of Alabama State Troopers. Despite the peaceful protests, the state troopers moved in with tear gas and night sticks and assaulted as many protesters as possible. Lewis was one of the 17 who were seriously injured, suffering from a broken skull. A similar protest at the same bridge two days later resulted in one person being killed and dozens more injured. The protests became a crucial point as the Voting Rights Law was passed on August 6th of that same year.  In 2009, Lewis received an apology from one of the anti-protesters for assaulting him during a Freedom Ride Protest in 1961. Two years later, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Photo taken by Lawrence Jackson

The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the site of the Bloody Sunday riots, has been a focus of a renaming campaign. The multiple-span arch bridge with a steel through arch main span was built in 1940 by Hensen Stevensen and spans the Alabama River at US 80. It was named after Edmund Pettus (1821-1907), a US Senator from Alabama who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War and later became a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Petitions to change the name in 2010 and 2015 failed to bear fruit because of the fact that it would not change much for racial relations between the blacks and the whites. Yet since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th and the subsequent violent protests that followed, another petition has started, which calls for dropping the Pettus name and naming it for the late Senator Lewis. At present, hundreds of thousands of people have signed the petition, calling for the bridge to be renamed in Lewis’s memory.  Whether the historic bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2013, will be honored for Lewis remains open, for even though the movement is gaining nationwide, despite the spikes Corona Virus infections, it has been met with opposition- even from President Donald Trump.

Bloody Sunday Riots in Selma, AL on MArch 7, 1965. Photo by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (public domain)

In an interview with CBS News, the President’s response to the question of why more and more blacks are being killed, his response came with “So are whites; more whites than blacks.” Trump has also opposed the removal of Confederate statues and statues of people who have had a role in racial confrontations and has even proposed jail time to those who remove or even deface statues.  Still, with the wind of change blowing clearly in favor of Joe Biden, his challenger in the 2020 Presidential Elections and with many measures to reimage America by eradicating team names, reimaging products like Uncle Ben’s rice and Aunt Jemina syrup and rewriting American history by looking critically at several key figures because of their dark pasts, it’s becoming clear that America wants to reinvent itself by becoming the country that welcomes people from all around the world, using key figures like John Lewis, as examples for the struggles that everyone had in creating a home and an identity in the country- to enjoy the riches of life just like the rest. It will become clear, even after the Presidential Elections on November 3rd that there will be no stopping the change, regardless of whether Biden or Trump take the Oval Office.

Portrait of Rep. John Lewis. Source: US House of Representatives (public domain)

Lewis leaves behind a son, John-Miles. His wife Lillian died on New Year’s Eve in 2012. Yet he leaves behind a legacy that America is pursuing in his honor.  He left a lot of quotes for people to remember him by. This is one of them:

I say to people today, ‘You must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.’

 

You can read more on John Lewis by clicking here.

 

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