Black History Spotlight #4: Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson, trans activist and all-around personality, was vibrant, generous, kind-hearted, hilarious and a wholly singular person. She was also a gay and trans advocate from the 1960s until her death in 1992. With some of the news that has come down this week, today we thought it was appropriate to shine our Black History Spotlight on Marsha P. Johnson, a person who greeted inequity with resilience, resistance, generosity and humor.

A Boy With Dancing Feet

Marsha P. Johnson was born Malcolm Michaels and began wearing dresses at age 5; young Malcolm stopped because of the neighbors’ reactions. Malcolm’s senior yearbook entry read “Willing to help others — a boy with dancing feet.” During the early 1960s, the teen began making the short trip into New York City to see other drag queens. “Malcolm” moved to Greenwich Village, living on the street when necessary, at age 18. By age 22 she had legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha used to say that the “P” stood for “pay it no mind,” her response to people who would ask whether she was male or female (at times, Marsha would choose to identify as Malcolm, and as male and would describe herself both as a “drag queen,” a “transvestite” and as gay; Marsha also frequently used female pronouns and those seem to be the ones that her friends and contemporaries use for her, so that is what we will use here).

Serious Drag

Before long, Marsha became a sensation.  Marsha was frequently given leftover flowers by florists at the end of the day, wearing them in elaborate crowns on her head. Asked if she ever “did drag seriously,” Marsha laughed that she didn’t have money to be serious about it. She used trash and thrift items to create fantastic ensembles. Friends agreed: “she wasn’t a well-dressed, coordinated kind of a drag queen.” By all accounts, Marsha was beloved by most. However, she faced some discrimination within the gay for community for her gender presentation. For instance, there was an attempt to exclude trans women and drag queens from the Gay Liberation Parade. Marsha just marched in front of the parade so that it appeared she was leading the whole thing.

Stonewalled

The Stonewall Riots were an uprising against a discriminatory police raid that took place at the Greenwich Village bar The Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. The event served as the catalyst for the Gay Liberation movement that continued throughout the 20th century and into the present day. It is imperative to note that Marsha P. Johnson, a Black, trans person was a hero of the movement. Marsha announced “I got my civil rights” and thew a shotglass – “the shotglass heard ’round the world.” A rebellion began and a movement was born.

In the documentary Pay It No Mind: The Life And Times of Marsha P. Johnson, Marsha’s contemporaries emphasized just how important the Stonewall Riots were. “It was a horrible world before that,” and the changes that we have seen “didn’t just happen this way.” The world as we know it might look very different without that act of resistance at the Stonewall Inn.

 

Saint Marsha

One story involves Marsha sleeping in the flower district under the lilies during her early days in New York. An employee explained why they let her: “she’s holy.”

Numerous stories involve Marsha panhandling on the street, then giving the change she received to somebody who needed it more. Within the community, Marsha’s generosity and warmth led to the moniker Saint Marsha.

Marsha’s message of love wasn’t an act of respectability politics. Rather, she reached out and connected to other people’s humanity so that they could no longer deny hers. She was known for “converting people into fans and friends” simply by being friendly and polite.

Marsha  frequented all kind of churches and noted that “we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Rising STAR

Together with Slyvia Rey Rivera, Marsha founded STAR: Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. The group reached out to homeless trans youth, the first group to specifically serve the vulnerable homeless trans community, particularly young people who were no longer welcome in their homes. Eventually STAR was able to establish a shelter, and the group also provided food to people living on the streets.

During this time, Marsha was photographed by Andy Warhol. This photograph didn’t make Marsha notable; instead, she was already a popular figure in her community. Still, the photo had the effect of making Marsha, in the words of Michael Musto, ” the transgender version of a Campbell’s soup can.”

 

The End

In 1992, Marsha’s body was found in the Hudson River. The death was ruled a suicide and wasn’t investigated. However, Marsha’s friends reported that she had been harassed by a group of people on the day of her death, and they did not believe that she was suicidal. In 2012, Marsha’s case was reopened. Although there are no leads, this is at least an acknowledgement that we cannot be sure what happened to her.

Black History Spotlight #3: Coretta Scott King

Our Black History Month spotlight series continues today with Coretta Scott King, a prominent activist for women and African-Americans, who just so happened to also be the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’ve always known her name, but not the story behind her impressive life, read on.

/1/ Angel of Music

When Coretta Scott was in high school, she played trumpet and piano, sang in the chorus and was a frequent player in the school musicals. Basically we would’ve been BFFs with her. After graduating as the valedictorian of her class, she went to Antioch College where she studied singing. She eventually transferred out of Antioch after winning a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she focused on building a career in the music industry.

/2/ The Man Who Changed Her Life

While studying at NECM, a friend gave her number to Martin Luther King, Jr., who had asked his pal about any single women on campus. While Coretta originally had no interest, she eventually caved and went out on a date with him. They fell in love and on Valentine’s Day 1953, they announced their engagement in the Atlanta Daily World newspaper, because that’s what folks did in the ’50s. The tied the knot four months later on the lawn of her mother’s house, where Martin’s father officiated the ceremony. What’s interesting about their vows is that Coretta decided to remove the bit about “obeying” her husband, which was not a common thing to do at the time. She will bow down to no man.

After Coretta graduated with a degree in voice and piano, they moved to Montgomery, where Martin became pastor of a local church. Before long, he was chosen to become leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the movement began.

/3/ Combining Her Passions

Although her main focus became civil rights, she used her passion of music to help get their message out. She performed at concerts to with the notion to give audiences “an emotional connection to the messages of social, economic, and spiritual transformation.”

/4/Get In Formation

While she rallied behind her husband for civil rights for blacks, she wasn’t blind to the fact that the movement had become sexist, with women’s interests not being put forth in their (aka her husband’s) agenda. Martin even limited Coretta’s role out on the trail, expecting her to stay at home and take care of their four children.

“Not enough attention has been focused on the roles played by women in the struggle. By and large, men have formed the leadership in the civil rights struggle but…women have been the backbone of the whole civil rights movement.”

In January 1968, Coretta took part in a Women Strike for Peace protest in D.C., along with over 5,000 women, and she also co-chaired the Congress of Women conference.

/5/ Equality For All

Continuing to fight for equality for all, Coretta was an early supporter of the gay rights movement. In 1983, she spoke out in D.C. to urge for the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as Protected class.

/6/ Heal the World

Coretta was an advocate for non-violent action to achieve social change, and therefore an advocate for world peace. In 1957, she was on of the co-founders of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and while Martin was speaking at a major anti-Vietnam War march in 1967, Coretta was doing similar work by speaking out at a rally in San Francisco. In her later years, she even came out in oppposition of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

/7/ What is Legacy?

After Martin was assassinated, she established The King Center in 1968, dedicated to the advancement of the legacy and ideas of her husband.  Their son, Dexter Scott King, is currently the CEO and president of the center.

/8/ Nevertheless, She Persisted

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” (read Coretta’s whole letter here).

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Logan Everett, The Boy American Girl Doll

There’s something different about the newest American Girl doll. It’s a boy. Which is a fine thing to be, if you’re a human, but I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction was more like:

As if white boys couldn’t already be EVERYTHING, now they’re an American Girl doll? Ugh. What would Felicity think? (Trick question, she’d just note whether they wore the same britches size in case she had to steal another pair under cover of darkness.) Okay, also the boy looks like this:

Of course he does.

Anyway, the Boy American Girl is named Logan Everett.

Of course he is.

Logan is apparently the drummer for the doll version of 2008-era Taylor Swift. As the latest addition to our series Things I’m Willing To Believe About, here are some things I am willing to believe about Logan Everett, Boy American Girl:


His working name was Logan Bruno because he was 100% based on Logan Bruno, boy associate member of the Baby-Sitters Club. He’s even Southern.

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Logan would like to invite you to a fun laser tag outing with his youth group.

His dad is in the worship band. Logan’s first performance was Lord I Lift Your Name On High.

 

The original plan was for Boy American Girl Doll Logan Everett to be a historical character from 1994. He would have had the requisite Cute Boy In The 90s Haircut (see: Rider Strong), a plaid flannel with a heather gray hood, and you could buy him a scaled-down, working Talkboy for $19.99.

Like this.

Like this.

In a frozen pioneer cemetery in Minnesota, Logan’s great-great-great-great grandmormor Kirsten is rolling over in her grave due to his coddled and simple lifestyle.

He calls his dog a rescue dog but it’s just a regular dog.

Logan rarely looks up from his Nintendo DS when he is forced to visit his great-grandma Molly. To be fair, all of her “harrowing war stories” are, like, “one time I curled my hair when it was wet and I got a cold” and “I ate turnips, once.”

Get a grip, Molls.

Get a grip, Molls.

I’m not saying Logan smirks mockingly at people, I’m just saying that doll is smirking mockingly at me, right? 

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he's not gonna laugh, he's just gonna stare at you.

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he’s not gonna laugh, he’s just gonna stare at you condescendingly.

His parents buy Lunchables.

And Sunny D.

And maybe Cheez Wiz?

Logan’s instagram is all skating pictures he stole off of other people’s instagrams (he doesn’t skate) and quotes.

Just really wants to bring hacky sack back.

Is the main character’s older brother who the best friend has a crush on on a Disney show.

If his name wasn’t Logan, it would have been Hunter. Or Kyler.

Was the first kid in his class whose parents didn’t care if he watched PG 13 movies.

Was in a commercial for a local amusement park 2 years ago and finds way more ways to bring it up than you’d think.

Boy band role: the one moms are OK with

Logan “thinks you look prettier without makeup,” but also thinks “no makeup” looks like concealer, light, well-blended foundation and bronzer, neutral eye shadow, lightly smudged dark brown liner, full mascara and lip gloss

Also “Tthinks you look prettier when you don’t do you hair;” hot rollers and highlights.

I understand this is supposed to be a country musician but I still kind of feel like on Myspace c. 2005 his favorite music would have been “anything but country lol.”

 

Always has to show you this hilarious video he found on YouTube.

Very Specific Dating Apps For Single People on Valentine’s Day

Congratulations, people in love. Today’s a day for you to celebrate the romance you’ve cultivated over the past ::insert amount of time here:: and show how much you care with a greeting card and a 3-course dinner special at your local favorite restaurant.

For everyone else, congratulations, you’re single. If you feel the need to spend today not entirely by yourself, here are some super niche dating apps that can narrow down the field for you and possibly fill that void of #foreveralone-ness. At least for now. But who knows how this could turn out? Maybe you’ll be telling your kids the story of How I Met Your Mother on Spoonr.

Wingman

Are you a frequent flier? On the road for business a lot and don’t get a chance to go on real dates? Wingman is the app for people on the go looking to scores some points in the mile high club. In addition to the usual info, you also add your flight number and airline to your profile, and it shows you a list of people on your flight that you could be paired up with. Seat-to-seat chatting is gonna get a whole lot sexier.

Bumble

Bumble is a giant Sadie Hawkins Dance version of Tinder. Once you’re matched with someone, the lady has to message the guy first, but if they don’t within 24 hours, the connection disappears. And for all my LGBTQ homies out there, either one can make the first move.

Happn

Happenstance (noun) : a circumstance especially that is due to chance. We always are stunned to find out what small a world we really live in, and with Happn, it sets out to prove that to be true. using GPS functionality in your phone, the app shows profiles of other singles in your area and pinpoints the last place and time you were close to each other. All prospective matches are people you’ve crossed paths within 250 meters, and it’s definitely NOT creepy at all, right?

Spoonr

Aside: why are all these dating apps missing one vowel? Is there a real reason? Please respond in comments. Anyways, Spoonr is not for folks who enjoy the round utensil, it’s for people who just need a cuddle. Unclear whether there’s an option to set a preference for big or little spoon.

Tindog

Have a fear you’re going to become an old dog lady/man with no human significant other? Well Tindog not only sets you up with other dog lovers, it sets up your dogs too. Puppy love, AMIRITE?

Seeking Arrangement

SeekingArrangement is a very generous phrase to describe what this dating app is – a way for sugar daddies to find young women to shower with material items, companionship, and of course, sex. If Hugh Hefner doesn’t already have stock in this, he really should.

 

SaladMatch

This app was created by New York-based salad eatery Just Salad, as a way to connect customers with other salad lovers. Like Tinder, it allows you to swipe left or right on users based on their salad prefs, Just Salad location and what time of day they usually go to Just Salad. So if you get matched with someone, do you get like free salads for life, or something? Because I could be into that.

Sizzl

Like SaladMatch, Sizzl is powered by Oscar Mayer, but a little less serious than Just Salad. The app matches singles based on their bacon preferences – crispy or tender? Pork or turkey? etc. etc. Again, I feel like if you get properly matched there should at least be a voucher for free bacon at your local grocery store.

Luxy

Luxy is for rich snobs. No, really. One time their tag line was “Tinder, minus the poor people.” And in the ad above, the slogan “Over 40,000 people have been kicked out” is not a misprint. Luxy is a dating app for the 1% – millionaires, CEOs, celebs, etc. Apparently, users even select their fave high-end brands like Cartier and Prada, so potential suitors know what to get them as a casual gift.

Raya

Speaking of the 1%, Raya is a similar dating app, but used by a lot of celebs. It’s super exclusive and very secretive, and referred to as the “Illuminati Tinder”. There’s an intense vetting process, and after users submit their application, an anonymous committee assesses their social media presence and decides whether you’re cool enough to join the app. Stars like Sharon Stone, Diplo, Joe Jonas, Rayven Symone and even Matthew Perry are all rumored to be looking for love on Raya. The fact that it’s so elusive is why it’s so fascinating – but all I really want to know is what do these celebs put in their profiles??

Fashion Friday: Nordstrom Steals & Deals

We’re always trying to come up with new fun topics to talk about with you guys, and today, we’re introducing a new series, Fashion Friday! Of course this concept is nothing new, but it’s new to us and we are v excited about it! Basically it’s a way for us to highlight a favorite store or brand that we’ve enjoyed as of late, and want to spread the good word to you fine folks.

For this inaugural post, we’re going to focus on one of the best department stores in the U.S. – Nordstrom! I always see great items when I go there (especially Nordstrom Rack), so here are just a few of the fantastic steals and deals you can buy online or in a store near you – you can even use this handy store locator to find one! ALSO did we mention the cafe? Because many locations have Nordstrom cafes. What’s better than finding the perfect clothes to dress like a woman and then grabbing some tacos as a reward? Nothing, really. Get a head start with our guide below!

Rebecca Taylor – Metallic Clip Midi Dress

Was: $595.00 Now: $356.98 40% off

TBH, I think I was drawn to this dress because it reminded me of the dress Alexis Bledel wore to the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premiere. Yes, I realize I’m a crazypants for even remembering what she wore.

Want & Need – Strapless Lace Jumpsuit

Was $58.00 Now $20.30 65% Off

If there was a way to make jumpsuits that a) looked great on every body type and b) had an easier way to pee in them, I’d say jumpsuits should be a required item in everyone’s closet. This black halter jumpsuit it simple yet versatile, and can be perfectly paired with a white blazer.

Athena Alexander – ‘Layla’ Boot (Women)

Was: $109.95 Now: $59.90 45% off

I feel like Betty (Draper) Francis would wear these on the way to horseback riding lessons.

Topshop – Floral Velvet Dress

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

You can’t really tell, but this is velvet, which apparently is a think that’s made a comeback because ’90s. Tamagotchi not included.

Ivy Park – Mesh Panel Racerback Tank

Was $35.00 Now $16.97  52% Off

THIS IS BEYONCE’S ATHLEISURE LINE AND ON SALE GO BUY IT AND SUPPORT HER GROWING FAMILY

kate spade new york cameron street – byrdie leather crossbody bag

Was: $298.00 Now: $199.66 33% off


Kate Spade is always classy but stands out from the rest thanks to the frequent use of bright colors. This adorbs crossbody bag is no different. Perfect for a holiday in Miami or night out in New York.

Equipment – Leema Tie Neck Silk Blouse

Was: $238.00 Now: $95.20 60% off

I’m no Vogue editor, but pussy bows are totally in, right? If it’s good enough for the First Lady, it’s good enough for me.

BP. – Square Stud Earrings (Set of 2)

Was: $16.00 Now: $9.98 35% off

These are v New Year’s Eve party, no?

Adrianna Papell – Floral Matelass? Fit & Flare Dress (Regular & Petite)

Was $209.00 Now $31.35 85% Off

True story: my friend has this exact same dress and she wore it to a wedding last year and got so many compliments. It was comfortable, breathable and best part – POCKETS.

Topshop – Stripe Detail Scalloped Knit Top

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

Because you can never go wrong with black and white.

TOMS – Desert Lace-Up Wedge Bootie

Was $119.00 Now $59.50 50% Off

I went to Nordstrom Rack specifically to purchase classic Toms flats because of the great price, and they have a YUGE selection of not only classic flats but sandals, boots, slippers and as seen above, fashionable wedges.

Helene Berman – Studded Ears Wool Blend Cap

Was: $122.00 Now: $73.20 40% off
nordstrom

I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like I’ve seen this hat before. (Update: yes I have).

Pa Ingalls Had Bad Ideas: C+S Book Club

If I’ve learned one thing from life, love and fiction it’s that most great relationships consist of one logical, methodical quick thinker, and then a nonsense person. Pa Ingalls was the nonsense person in the Little House universe, but not the benign kind. A benign nonsense person would, say, decide that it would be a great idea to open a used book store in small-town New England and then they let the logic person figure out how to do it. Pa’s more like “let’s cross rivers and woodlands to go build a house underneath the earth for whatever reason and not really take care of our dog while we’re doing it.” Every couple needs an idea person: the problem was, Pa Ingalls’ ideas were bad.

Good looking couple, though.

During the Big Woods years, Ma and Pa Ingalls more or less serve as the Goofus and Gallant of 1800s forest life. Caroline painstakingly dyes her butter with carrot juice so that it looks more appealing; Charles lets shiny hot lead bullets cool within reach of toddlers. (Granted, he did warn Laura, but that child was half Charles, after all.)  They balance each other pretty well, except that it is the nineteenth century and every time Pa wants to get into a covered wagon and move onto an Indian reservation that the family has no legal right to occupy (a true thing!) Ma just had to pack up the calico and deal with it.

The Ingallses were poor. It’s fine to be poor, but I can’t help but think it’s because Pa can’t settle himself in one place and be normal. You can tell the family is poor because the inventory of their possessions is so small that I can recount it decades after reading the books. Ma had one (1) china shepherdess, Pa had one (1) fiddle, they clearly owned a thimble because Pa did that Jack Frost stuff on the windows which was admittedly pretty cool, and then one day a year they had a pig bladder to play with until it disintegrated because that is not a toy, it is a body part. Okay, so the family wasn’t doing terribly but wasn’t raking it in either, and they went off to find a “better life” or whatever. Problem was, Pa wasn’t good at finding it.

First the family lives in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. It’s pretty good; they have a garret full of dried vegetables in the winter and they run around in bonnets in the summer; Ma has the love and support of her family close by; sometimes Laura gets a piece of hard candy if they take the wagon into town. As I said above, they’re poor but in a comfy way. This is when Pa gets it into his head to, in the great words of T.L.C., “go chasing waterfalls” even though he quite literally would be better off sticking to the rivers and the lakes that he’s used to.

Bad Idea Beard

Bad Idea Beard

The family piles into a covered wagon and crosses a swollen creek, huddling in a rickety wooden cart that I don’t even think they caulked per Oregon Trail recommendations. Oh, did I say the whole family? Not their dog Jack, who was left to swim alongside the wagon and drown. Jack comes back later because he is a Very Good Boy but that was a bad position for Pa to put his kids and dog in. While I know dogs served more of a utilitarian function in those days, you can’t deny that Laura loved that pup and for good reason. Jack jealously guarded and protected his family from everything … except for Pa’s poor choices, which almost killed him.

The family gets to Kansas, but psych! They move onto Osage Indian land and they aren’t allowed to be there. You know all those times Pa says racist garbage like “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” and you kind of try to put yourself in the head space of a white man from the 1800s, but it STILL seems awful? To make it even worse, Pa was acting like the Osage were dangerous intruders when he was on their land. It’s like a racist version of that movie The Others, where the characters think that their house is haunted because they don’t realize that they are the ghosts. Sorry if you haven’t seen The Others, but it came out 15 years ago and was good but not amazing.

You know the real threat in that part of Kansas? Of course you do. It was weird white people. More specifically, the “Bloody Benders,” a family – or possibly not a real family? – who ran a tavern of horrors where they murdered over twenty people. The Ingalls drove by the Bender tavern at one point, saw the murderess, looked her in the face, but didn’t have tavern money. This is one time when Pa’s inability to provide for his family actually saved them, so that’s nice. What’s not nice is pretending like the Osage were out for blood when the real killers were more like a 19th century homespun Manson family.

The Bloody Benders

The Bloody Benders

The books kind of shift the timeline here, but after that the family moved back to The Big Woods. “Lesson learned! Better stay comfy-poor in these big woods!” That’s how a normal person would react. Not Pa! He decides maybe if it would be better to go move to a hole next to a creek in the coldest and snowiest state, and Ma says “Charles, that sounds irresponsible and also like a weird thing to do, even for people in the 1800s.” Just kidding! Societal conventions wouldn’t have allowed it. She just packed up the china shepherdess and they moved into a dirt hole.

the dugout, recreated

the dugout, recreated

At this point the Ingallses kind of move to and fro within Minnesota for a while. Then they go to Iowa for a bit to manage a hotel, a weird kind of Wes Anderson-y chapter in the family’s existence. While that seems like a tough lifestyle to mess up, Charles finds a way. He wasn’t into the hotel so he works at a grist mill for a second, the family lives above a grocery store and then they live in a rented house… and THEN the family skips town under cover of darkness and they go back to Minnesota. Okay. Cool. Minnesota is a bit too warm and dry so then the Ingalls go to De Smet, North Dakota, where they experience the worst winter America has ever had, per my twenty-year-old memory of The Long Winter. Laura meets Almanzo, gets married, and no longer has to live under the rein of her father’s nonsense ideas.  I mean, Manly’s favorite food is apples fried with onions, so I’m not saying he’s perfect; I’m just saying they get a bit more stable.

During her whole childhood, Charles (and Caroline, but we’re talking Pa here) was also painfully oblivious to Laura’s feelings of inadequacy, probably because he was too busy making plans to get lost in blizzards or move out of a perfectly good cabin into a way less-good cabin. Laura always thought Mary was so much better than her, probably because of things like Mary having a legit ragdoll, Nettie, while Laura just had a handkerchief that was trying to be a doll. Laura clearly had a hangup the size of the wide-open prairie about Mary having blonde hair, because she brings it up a LOT. You’d think Pa would have squashed that nonsense or, at the least, informed Laura that Mary was seriously not even all that blonde but Pa was cooking up a schemes and a once-annual pig tail so I guess he never got around to it.

Brown-haired Mary.

Brown-haired Mary.

 

This is just the tip of the Bad Idea iceberg. Remember the time Pa dressed up in blackface for the minstrel show? Or almost got blizzarded to death that one Christmas? When I was a kid, I thought Pa seemed like the most fun dad ever, what with his singalongs and scruffy friends and all. Now that I’m older, I can see Pa through Ma’s eyes instead of Laura’s – and what I see is a whole lot of nonsense wrapped up in a legacy of terrible ideas.

Mama From ‘All Of A Kind Family’ Was Some Kind Of Crazy Genius

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man or D-Bag?

Marilla Cuthbert Was A Creepy Church Hag

Life Lessons From Harriet The Spy

Life Lessons From The Fault In Our Stars

This Is Where I Leave You

Matilda: The Book For Book Lovers

Miss Honey Is Wonderful

Gritty, Dystopian ‘Little Women’ Plotlines

Amy March Was A Total Bitch

Tiny Crush Tuesday: Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

Black History Spotlight #2: Frederick Douglass

Last week, we started our Black History Spotlight series with a brief overview on the life of teenage Civil Rights pioneer Claudette Colvin. Her name may not be as much of a household name as 13th Amendment hero Abraham Lincoln, but she’s just as important than any of our presidents. Today we’re shining a light on yet another unknown: Frederick Douglass. Here are 8 facts you need to know about one of the foremost abolitionists in American history.

F. Doug at age 29

F. Doug at age 29

/1/ 20 Years a Slave

Frederick Douglass was born a slave on a plantation in Maryland, and by the age of 7, was separated from his mother and sent to work at another plantation for the Auld family. When he was 12, his master’s wife secretly taught Frederick how to read, despite the fact it was against the law at the time. When his master found out, he forbid his wife to continue teaching him, but that only lit a fire within young Douglass. He taught himself how to read and write from the white kids in his neighborhood as well as the writings by his male co-workers. He used his new talent to teach other slaves how to read, but he also read newspapers and books about slavery, thus igniting his passion to end slavery.

After three failed attempts to escape from his plantation, Douglass finally left Maryland disguised as a free black sailor and ended up in New York City after a grueling 24 hour journey. He then married Anna Murray, a free black woman who helped him escape, and they settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

/2/ Abolish It

Douglass, now 23, quickly became a well-respected leader in the thriving free black community of New Bedford, mainly thanks to his leadership of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. It was then when he began his career as a renowned orator, speaking about his experience as a slave at local meetings, as well as the Hundred Conventions project, a tour throughout the East Coast and Midwest as a part of the American Anti-Slavery Society. However, it was his speeches that put him in danger of being captured by his former slave owners, so he fled across the pond to the U.K., where he continued to speak to people in Ireland and Britain against slavery. He spent two years in Europe telling them horrific slavery stories back in the U.S. In fact, the Brits were so moved by his story, that they raise 700 pounds to pay his master for his official freedom, officially making him a free man back at home.

/3/ Putting Pen To Paper

In 1845, he wrote his life story in an autobiography titled Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller in the U.S. and even overseas (thanks Irish & Brits), and they were so popular he went on to publish two more versions of his autobiography with new details in each one.

Upon his return to America, he settled in Rochester, New York (OUR HOMETOWN!), where he started The North Star anti-slavery newspaper, focusing on current events concerning abolitionist issues. Because one periodical wasn’t enough, Douglass went all in with the newspaper business, with Frederick Douglass Weekly, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Douglass’ Monthly and New National Era.

“Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” The North Star motto

/4/ A Groundbreaking Feminist

Frederick was a staunch supporter of females during the women’s sufferage movement, and when the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY went down in 1948, he was the ONLY African-American to attend. It was at the convention that he spoke in favor of the assembly passing a resolution for women’s suffrage, saying he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also have the right to vote. His speech made such an impact that the resolution was ultimately passed.

/5/ Fought for Black Soldiers’ Right To Fight

By the time the Civil War started, Douglass was one of the most popular black men in the U.S. and he used his visibility to fight for African-Americans to fight in the war, on the basis that the aim of the Civil war was the end slavery. He even met with President Lincoln a few times after the South boasted they would execute or enslave any captured black soldiers. Due to Douglass’ persistence, Lincoln warned the Confederacy that for every Union soldier killed, he would execute a rebel soldier.

Nearly a decade after Lincoln’s death, Douglass spoke about the president’s legacy during the opening of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park. While he called out Lincoln’s hesitance to speak out against slavery from the get-go, he also acknowledged he was ultimately a supporter of the anti-slavery cause.

“Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery….”

As a token of her appreciation, Mary Todd Lincoln gave Douglass the president’s favorite walking stick, which sits in Douglass’ final residence.

/6/ First African-American to be nominated for Vice President

In 1872, he was put on the Equal Rights Party ticket as Victoria Woodhull’s running mate. One problem – he had no idea he was nominated and he didn’t even campaign for it. As we know (or maybe not), they did not take the presidency.

/7/ Look at this photograph

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Frederick Douglass with the most photographed American of the 19th Century, and stealthily made sure of it in an effort to advance his political views. He rarely smiled in his photographs, sending a message that he was not indulging in the racist stereotype of being a happy slave, and often looked into the lens with a stern look.

/8/ Rest In Peace

While there may be alternative facts swirling around out there, Mr. Douglass unfortunately passed away from a heart attack at his home in Washington a mere 122 years ago. He is buried in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery, where people continue to pay their respects to this great man (check out video of a reporter from our local newspaper visiting Douglass last week). RIP.

Black History Spotlight #1: Claudette Colvin

Around here we think Black History needs to be an all-year, all-the-time celebration – but we’re also glad that there’s a month set aside to call special attention to all of the influential, talented, brilliant Black Americans who built this country. That’s why this February we’re shining a spotlight on different historical figures who shaped the world we live in. First up: Claudette Colvin, the teenage Civil Rights pioneer who started a movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

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Claudette Colvin, c. 1955.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because Rosa Parks is on the shortlist of Civil Rights figures we all learned about as children. There’s no denying that Rosa Parks changed our country with her activism and organization efforts as well as her own act of civil disobedience, but until recently Claudette Colvin’s story was sifted down into history.

Claudette Colvin began March 2, 1955 as a straight-A 15-year-old student and ended it a Civil Rights hero. On her way home from school, Claudette’s city bus driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white passenger. She ignored the driver and looked out the window. When the driver came back to confront her, Claudette stated that it was her constitutional right to sit where she was. Claudette later explained:

I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, ‘Sit down girl!’ I was glued to my seat.

If you need any further reason why Black History Month is necessary, here’s one: Claudette Colvin was inspired to take this stand because that February, her school had observed what was then known as Negro History Week. The stories of the fight against slavery encouraged Claudette to work against the steep inequalities still present in her society.

Young Claudette Colvin was arrested, with police kicking her, knocking away her textbooks and dragging her off the bus. She was ultimately charged with violating segregation laws; Claudette plead not guilty but was sentenced to probation. The NAACP chose not to take Claudette’s case because she became pregnant the year of her arrest, and they feared that bad press and further prejudice would cloud the public’s support of Claudette’s cause. Nine months after Claudette refused to give up her seat on the bus, Rosa Parks made the same statement; a year after Claudette’s arrest, her first son was born.

When it became apparent that an appeal from Rosa Parks’ case would stagnate in the courts, Civil Rights lawyers looked to a different case to address the constitutionality of bus segregation. Claudette Colvin was named as a plaintiff, along with Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanette Reese, in the case that would confirm the illegality of segregation on mass transit. Because Browder v. Gayle addressed a federal question (a civil suit for damages due to a deprivation of rights by a public official, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983) it was heard in district court.

The ultimate question in Browder v. Gayle was whether statutes and ordinances requiring segregation on a common carrier violated the Constitution. The ‘separate but equal’ doctrine had already been weakened by a string of cases regarding interstate transit, as well as college education and public recreation. The court in Browder placed the final nail in the Plessy v. Ferguson coffin, holding that bus segregation statutes violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The lower court’s decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1956.

Claudette Colvin later moved to New York and became a nurse’s aide. She is now retired, and has said that at one time she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Instead, she inspired the case that ended segregation on common carriers – just as she said on the bus on March 2, 1955, it was her constitutional right – and has had a larger impact on the course of constitutional law than most lawyers could ever dream.

I feel very, very proud of what I did. I do feel like what I did was a spark and it caught on. I’m not disappointed. Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation.


Any other facts about Claudette Colvin, the bus boycotts, or the Civil Rights era that you’d like to point out? Suggestions for further Black History Spotlights? Let us know!

OK Ladies, Now Let’s Get In Formation: #WomensMarch Style

Over the weekend, millions of people from across the U.S. and around the world took to the streets to stand up for women’s rights, human rights, and resistance against a questionable administration. From Washington D.C. to our hometown of Rochester to Los Angeles to Sydney to Nairobi to London and Antarctica, there was an outpouring of dedication, passion and female empowerment. But what was impressive (besides the fact not ONE arrest was made ANYWHERE) were the signs that were being held up my women, men and children all over. The ranged from simple statements of facts to images that made you cry to straight up hilarious ones. Here are some of our favorites from the history-making #WomensMarch.

Very Good Dogs Against Trump

“Good boys against misogyny.” “Even I understand no means no”

“Putin’s poodle.”

“I march for my moms.” We Rate Dogs gave this Very Good Dog a coveted 13/10.

Arts Are Important

The fantastic Uzo Aduba: “What Meryl said.”

Also spotted: “Meryl is properly rated.”

Couldn’t be more accurate: “You’re so vain, you probably think this march is about you.”

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A Hamilton/Lin-Manuel Miranda selection: Rise Up!; #Immigrants: we get the job done! and Love is Love is Love is Love is Love.

So many people paid tribute to the badass Princess Leia and the even more phenomenal actress/advocate Carrie Fisher. “We are the resistance,” “A woman’s place is in the resistance,” and Princess Leia in the style of the Rosie The Riveter “We can do it.”

and now an iconic combo photo. carrie fisher AND hamilton.

Coffee Talk with Linda Richman: “Donald Trump’s blind trust is neither blind nor a trust. Discuss.”

Do the trolls even WATCH Game of Thrones? “If progressives are snowflakes then winter is coming.”

Because the scariest thing is ANTM-era Tyra being disappointed in you: ” None of us were rooting for you! How dare you!”

Some hard numbers for you: “CBS:Donald Trump approval rating: 32%. Rotten Tomatoes: Paul Blart – Maul Cop: 33%”

We knew Bey would be represented, but so was Jay: “I’ve got 99 problems and white heteronormative patriarchy is all of them.”

One of my favorites from today. #WomensMarchPhilly #arthistory #protestsign

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An awesome art reference: “Ceci n’est pas un president” in the style of the iconic Magritte pipe painting, The Treachery of Images.

Ian McKellen in London

Ian McKellen in London

Beloved feminist Ian McKellen needed no words – his poster was a picture of Spock face-palming.

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We take orders from Beyonce, not that orange guy: “Okay ladies now let’s get in formation.”

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a fun one for the hollywood type.

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Time to reboot the DA: “Dumbledore didn’t die for this.”

“Es Feminista. No Feminazi”. wingardium levi-OH-sa, you dumb dumbs

#womensmarch #nyc

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Donald… urine danger, girl. Ghost puns FTW.

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Favorite reference to The Office from the marches: “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight”

Because there’s only so much we can take: “I will not normalize 3 Doors Down.”

Not a sign, but they worked so hard and aren’t women just the VERY BEST?

Greatest protest sign ever. #womensmarch

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“why are you so obsessed with me?” regina george and mean girls quotes are always applicable. stop trying to make trump happen.

💪#womensmarchonwashington

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“Don’t try to grab my pussy it’s made of steel.” when supergirl takes the streets

Things We’re Willing To Believe About Donald Trump

Drag him, Denver: “Trump skis in jeans”

It’s worse than we thought: “Donald Trump uses Comic Sans.”

Other assaults on good taste spotted on signs: Trump doesn’t even read, Trump eats ketchup on steak, and Trump listens to Nickelback.

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“I make the best signs. Really terrific signs. I have the best signs. Everybody says so.” SAD!

“Free Melania” (No seriously Melania, do you want us to come get you? We can come up with a signal.)

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“Trump, I’ll pee on you for free.”

Things We Definitely Believe About Trump and His Administration

“I’ve seen smarter cabinets at Ikea.” I’d also like to note that I’ve spent longer putting together Ikea cabinets than Trump has assembling his executive cabinet.

“Sex offenders cannot live in government housing.”

“Donald J.Trump will lie about this.” Done and done.

Thanks, Obamas

i am forever michelle.

“Thank you Obama, we’ve got it from here.”

LGBTQuestioning How We Got Into This Mess

In case you’ve been wondering: The Gay Agenda. Monday: Be Gay. Tuesday: Tacos. Wednesday: Be Gay. Thursday: Be Gay. Friday: Super Gay. Saturday: Super Gay. Sunday: Brunch Gay.

the mirror is such an a+ touch

“Never underestimate the power of a faggot with a tambourine.” I not only saw tambourines, I saw dudes with bongos.

“Not gay as in happy. Queer as in fuck you.”

Gynecological Miscellany

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“Shed walls, don’t build them” on a picture of a cartoon uterus. 20 bucks says there are men in DT’s cabinet and sitting as Republicans in Congress who don’t get this one.

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“Keep Uncle Sam out of my clam”

Signs Of The Future

“Trump is a Racist, Sexist Dicktator. Mom says my spelling is fine.”

My mama don’t like trump and she likes everyone. bonus points for the beliebers out there.

Approximately when I started bawling my eyes out. #womensmarchonwashington #whyImarch

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Young boys and their little sister: “My sister believes she can be president. #ThanksHillary” anyone else immediately weep after seeing this?

“japanese americans against Muslim registry” AND ALSO WEEP AT THIS?!

Adorable toddler: “I (heart) naps but I stay woke.”

Trump, Don’t make fun of people who are different. Be Helpful, Be Kind, Like me!

A child I wish were in the cabinet: “What do we want? Evidence-based science. When do we want it? After peer review”

Boys will be boys good humans.

Yes.

I love this kid’s style: “Trump is a butt.”

“You’re fired! 2020” – Love how you can tell this little lady KNOWS she nailed it with this sign.

A respectful cutie named Atlas: “Never too young to respect women”

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“I’m marching for our future” She’s even got her superhero cape on. And tutu for good measure.

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“Tiny Hands – Yuuuuuge mistake. Sad!” – Some of the coolest middle schoolers I can imagine.

International Marchers

Beautiful British understatements: “ugh,” “This is very bad,” “I’m really quite cross,” “I am very upset.”

Some delightful Sister Suffragettes in Edwardian-style outfits: “same shit, different century.”

A nasty woman in front of the Eiffel Tower: a Trump “Nope” in the style of the Obama Hope posters.

Just the Facts

“I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next #BlackLivesMatter march right?”

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Current mood: [Middle finger illustration]

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Basically me whenever That Guy is pictured near any lady, even those I don’t necessarily know or like: “stay the fuck away from my friends you rapist nazi fuck”

Because we can write the future, even if we couldn’t write the past: “First they came for the Muslims and we said ‘not this time motherfuckers’ ”

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On Trump with a slightly amended hairdo: “Not Today Satan.”

Seen at #womensmarchonwashington 📷 by: me

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Every. SINGLE. Time. : ” “Screw it. I’ll do it. – Black Women”

When you’d LOVE to be home with Netflix: “So bad even introverts are here.”

WHERE. #womensmarch

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Our exact thought process w/r/t sign-making: “UGH where do I even start.”

A 2012 tweet from DT. Show him the receipts.

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This sucks.

Girl Power

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This pussy has wings.

#womensmarch #womensmarchonwashington #notmypresident #nastywoman

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Like looking in a mirror. #hillaryclinton #washingtondc #womensmarch #feminism #pussygrabsback

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“Now you have pissed off grandma” to be fair, he’s pissed off a lot of grandmas.
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Just a casual Ruth Bader Ginsberg head on top of a pole.

One Last Time: Obama and America

It’s time for one big, last thanks, Obama.

Thanks, Obama, for:

  • passing health care reform that has helped 20 million Americans gain health care coverage.
  • rebounding the economy from its recession low, adding 15.5 million jobs and presiding over record-setting continuous job growth.
  • serving as Commander in Chief during the overthrow of Osama bin Laden.
  • providing American leadership in the 2015 Paris Agreement, securing our commitment and that of numerous other countries to stalling and reversing global climate change.
  • saving the U.S. auto industry, with our $62 billion investment already repaid at over $70 billion.
  • leading the push to secure LGBT rights, resulting in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, with same-sex marriage recognized as the law of the land.
  • passing the Fair Sentencing Act to ameliorate the disproportionate drug imprisonments for the poor and people of color.
  • cutting the federal deficit from 9.8% to 3.2%
  • signing the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act.
  • de-escalating Iran’s nuclear program.

We could continue.

Today, President Obama becomes Citizen Obama. Still, we know that he’ll always be our president, the same way my grandparents proudly claimed JFK as their own decades after he was gone.

Here’s the thing about all of us who benefitted from President Obama’s policies and considered him the finest president of our lifetimes: we’re all still here. We’re all still America. We still have the progress from the past eight years, even if we have to grasp harder than we imagined to hold on to all of it. We still have that message of hope and change. We still have the rapid transition in Americans’ social mindsets that occurred over the past eight years, and we still have a generation of children who grew up only knowing a Black president. And someday, those children will be our leaders. We’re all still here, with the benefit of eight years of solid leadership, positivity, progress, idealism, empathy and resilience.

President Obama will soon be president no longer, but he’s still here too. This one goes out to Obama and America, a relationship we’ve loved for the past eight years – and that doesn’t sunset on January 20, 2017.

Thanks, Obama.

President Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December, 2009.

President Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December, 2009. (All photos by White House photographers Pete Souza and Lawrence Jackson)

“A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 — an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” May, 2011.

“The President visited Joplin, Mo., following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house.” May, 2011.

“One of the most poignant days of the year was when Ruby Bridges visited the White House. Ruby is the girl portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” which depicts Ruby as she is escorted to school on the court-ordered first day of integrated schools in New Orleans in 1960. When the Norman Rockwell Museum loaned the painting to the White House for a short period of time, the President invited Ruby to view the painting while it was on display outside the Oval Office

“A soldier hugs the President as he greeted U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.” May, 2012.

“The President hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend, Allie Young, left, stay alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital. The President later told their story in a news conference.” July, 2012.

“Overcome with emotion, eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts just after meeting the President as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office.” April, 2012.

“The overview of a campaign rally in Urbandale, Iowa. This view was from a scissors lift just above the press stand.” September, 2012.

“I had noticed the possibility of a potential good photograph if the President were to pass by this flag as he departed an evening campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa. So I planted myself backstage as he finished working a ropeline and managed to get one usable frame as he walked by.”November, 2012.

“Four Presidents. One funny story. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Obama and Bush wait backstage to be introduced during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.”April, 2013.

Alternate title: four private citizens who have the same president as us.

“Thelma Maxine Pippen McNair, mother of Denise McNair, whispers to the President after he signed H.R. 360, which provided for the presentation of a congressional gold medal to commemorate the lives of the four young African American victims of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963. McNair’s daughter was one of the victims.” May, 2013.

“You can’t always predict what will happen even when the President has a pre-arranged lunch during a stop on his college affordability college tour. Here, during a lunch with college students, recent graduates and educators, a young child plays on the floor nearby at Magnolia’s Deli & Cafe in Rochester, N.Y.” August, 2013.

Shout out to our hometown!

“Call it the Shake Shack slide. As he is wont to do, the President normally does a group photo with restaurant staff when he stops for lunch or dinner somewhere. After having lunch with Vice President Biden at a Shake Shack in Washington, D.C., the President asked me where he should stand for the photo. Before I could even reply, the President jumped on the counter and slid onto the other side. The Vice President soon followed.” May, 2014.

A surprise walk around the White House. May, 2014.

“Chief of Staff Denis McDonough came to the Oval Office one afternoon and said to the President, ‘let’s take a walk.’ So they proceeded outside the White House gates to a Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue. On the way back, the President stopped to greet street vendor Saied Abedy, who was born in Afghanistan. I later selected this photograph to hang as a ‘jumbo’ print on the walls of the West Wing. Several months later, after the jumbo print had been replaced with a newer photograph, we were tipped off that a White House staff member was giving Mr. Abedy and his family a tour of the West Wing one night. So we retrieved the jumbo print of him and hung it back on the walls of the West Wing. I later heard how emotional his family became when they saw the photograph on their tour.”June, 2014.

“During remarks on the economy in Austin, Texas, the President was heckled about immigration by two young men in the audience. After being interrupted again, the President told the men that he wanted to finish his speech but would be happy to have a conversation with them later. As soon as he left the stage, the President told his staff to bring the two men backstage so he could indeed talk to them about immigration.” June, 2014.

“The President was meeting with a group of mentees in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. As the meeting was coming to a close one of the participants challenged the President to a game of HORSE. ‘Let’s go,’ the President responded, and the entire group walked down to the basketball court on the South Lawn. In addition to the shooting competition, the President also used the opportunity to further talk to the young men about life lessons, not basketball.” October, 2014.

“It was supposed to be just a simple early voting by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago, Illinois. When Aia Cooper, left, and her fiancé Mike Jones, far right, walked by to also cast their ballot, Jones quipped, ‘Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.’ The President replied, ‘I really wasn’t planning on it,’ joking that Jones was ‘an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.’ When the President finished voting, he reached over and gave Cooper a kiss on the cheek.” October, 2014.

Watch the video. It’s real good.

March 7, 2015 “For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” March, 2015.

President Obama unexpectedly breaks out into Amazing Grace while giving the eulogy for or South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine victims in the Charleston church shooting. June, 2015.

Oct. 11, 2015 “The President was playing golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. As he was finishing his round, he began to shake hands with guests waiting for a wedding ceremony about to begin. The bride and groom were waiting inside but when they looked out the window and saw the President, they decided to make their way outside. I made a grab shot as the bride, Stephanie Tobe, and her soon-to-be husband, Brian Tobe, came running to greet the President. I made sure to send a copy to the happy couple and both wrote back to me that they were extremely grateful to have the President ‘crash’ their wedding.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The President was playing golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. As he was finishing his round, he began to shake hands with guests waiting for a wedding ceremony about to begin. The bride and groom were waiting inside but when they looked out the window and saw the President, they decided to make their way outside. I made a grab shot as the bride, Stephanie Tobe, and her soon-to-be husband, Brian Tobe, came running to greet the President. I made sure to send a copy to the happy couple and both wrote back to me that they were extremely grateful to have the President ‘crash’ their wedding.” October, 2015.

Feb. 18, 2016 “President Obama watches the First Lady dance with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“President Obama watches the First Lady dance with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month.” February, 2016.

Also an accompanying video that will make your heart explode.

Nov. 11, 2016 “The excitement in his face says it all. Bill Mohr, 108 years old (not a typo), was the oldest living World War II veteran when he met President Obama after a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his family released a statement including this sentence: ‘Meeting a sitting President was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for our father, who was a true patriot.’” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The excitement in his face says it all. Bill Mohr, 108 years old (not a typo), was the oldest living World War II veteran when he met President Obama after a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his family released a statement including this sentence: ‘Meeting a sitting President was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for our father, who was a true patriot.’” November, 2016.

Farewell speech. One last time. January, 2017.