God Works in Mysterious Ways

Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston (photo credit: Democracy Now)

We’ve all heard the saying, “God Works in Mysterious Ways.”  A tired trope, right?  Not in the hands of President Obama, who gave it fresh and meaningful power in his moving eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney of Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.  And not in light of the events of the last seven days.

“God Works in Mysterious Ways” was just one of literally dozens of memorable phrases and comments that arose during this most remarkable of weeks. Our part of the world cracked open a door to examine some of its deepest wounds and also saw change for millions who have been denied life’s basic liberties and access to a safe and civil society.

While that change is far from complete, let’s take the time to observe (in this next installment of Observations from Home) just what took place over the last seven days since I wrote about the horrific murders at Mother Emanuel.

A Powerful Reflection on Grace – For almost forty minutes in Charleston, Barack Obama reflected on race and the meaning of grace. This was not the carefully constructed speeches on racial divides that he used as a candidate or during his first years as president. This was a deeply emotional and moving reflection that came from experience and spoke with power to those – of all races – who share or work to understand that experience.

In last week’s blog, I commented on the fact that the grace-filled forgiveness of the families of the Emanuel 9 to the alleged killer was the one ray of hope in a very sad situation, but I was quick to assume a pessimistic outlook as to its impact, given that major media reports at the time were not focused on what our rector, the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister, called “the weapons of Christ” in her sermon on the subject last Sunday.

When David faced Goliath, Saul tried to clothe him in his own armor: fine armor of bronze, fit for a king. But David realized that he could not even walk in it; it was the tool of a different sort of man. Even so, we must learn to walk in ways that are not the ways of violence. In our popular culture, the villains use guns and bombs — but so do the heroes. Dirty Harry, Luke Skywalker, Rambo, even Harry Potter– all these use violence to fight violence. But the master’s tools can never take down the master’s house. When Nadine Collier, niece of one of the people who were killed in Charleston, confronted the alleged killer and said, “I forgive you. You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never, ever hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul,” she was using the weapons of Christ — and her words did not come cheap. We, too, must learn to fight with the weapons of peace and of true justice, for we work in the name of the Lord of Hosts, who loves those people who are perishing.

It turns out that the words of the families – and the grace with which they were spoken – did have an impact. I’ll once again turn to the New York Times report to explain the context for how God moves in mysterious ways.

Mr. Obama joined with others paying tribute in stressing that the 21-year-old white man charged in the killings had failed to achieve his stated goal of inciting racial conflagration. Rather, he said, the killings had the opposite effect, generating an unprecedented show of racial unity and inspiring a nationwide revolt against Confederate symbols.

“It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches,” Mr. Obama said, “not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress, an act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion, an act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.”

He paused for effect. “Oh, but God works in mysterious ways,” Mr. Obama said. “God has different ideas. He didn’t know he was being used by God.” The crowd erupted in applause as women waved their hands toward the ceiling.

I almost cried when I first listened to that part of the eulogy.  The Times report continued.

Mr. Obama commended South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki R. Haley, for her call this week to bring down the Confederate flag in Columbia, saying it would be “a meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.”

“Removing the flag from this state’s Capitol would not be an act of political correctness,” Mr. Obama said. “It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong. The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people, was wrong.”

It was one of the most powerful moments in a eulogy full of them – including the President breaking into song with Amazing Grace and having the organist come in to offer support and take the emotion even higher.  The note that God moves in mysterious ways was a powerful moment in an emotional conversation about race and grace that must – for the health of our nation and the health of our souls – continue.

Marriage Equality (Or how both my children can now marry the people they love no matter where they may live in America) – Justice Andrew Kennedy had the definitive statement for me in the long-expected but still amazing ruling on marriage equality that came from a divided Supreme Court on Friday.

It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.

Rainbow flag

These men and women are my family. My co-workers. My friends. Plus millions I do not know. And it is past time that we recognized them not only as children of God – as we all are, in whatever way we understand that phrase – but complete human beings who deserve the same rights and protections as the rest of our country.

The vitriol in the dissents – especially that of Antonin Scalia – demonstrated that we still have a long way to go in this country to address our differences and welcome our fellow human beings with grace.  As one admittedly partisan commentator noted, Scalia’s “notion that the court is made up of patrician Ivy League elitists is tested mightily when he offers up legal opinions that sound like they have been culled from newspaper website comment threads.” When pronouncements from Supreme Court justices include sharp personal attacks and practically sputter in their denial of reality, the impact of 30+ years of false victim-hood by cable news, radio, and internet outlets is clear.

Speaking of Reality – The Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) decision on Thursday, by a larger 6-3 majority, provided some relief by demonstrating that we still have a government that – when necessary – can face reality.  Linda Greenhouse, the Supreme Court observer, noted that “Ideology came face to face with reality, and reality prevailed.”  Yet another concise take on the events of the week when God – if not the Supreme Court – moved in mysterious ways.

Universal health care for Americans is something that has been on the nation’s agenda since the Roosevelt administration.  That’s Theodore Roosevelt! Every other so-called first-world and industrialized nation in the world has figured out how to do this without blowing up the government, the economy, or health care.  Some third world countries have done a pretty good job of it as well. For us…not so much.  When I hear that Americans don’t like the Affordable Care Act and don’t want universal coverage, I think of the following: President Obama campaigned in 2008 on providing universal health insurance and won big. Then – with the help of a lot of people who paid for it politically – the Affordable Care Act was passed based on a model that had originally been devised by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Naturally, the new law was derided by conservatives. President Obama ran again in 2012 on a platform of maintaining the ACA against a candidate who promised to repeal the act. Again, he won big. And millions of Americans who didn’t have health coverage before now have it, while those of us who have had health care still benefit from provisions in the law such as being able to keep our children on our policies through their mid-20s and not being punished for pre-existing conditions. Reality is that the program has worked pretty much as advertised.

In discussing how the Supreme Court’s majority came to see the case for the “cynically manufactured and meritless argument” which tried to turn the court into “a partisan tool,” Greenhouse wrote:

The chief justice’s masterful opinion showed that line of argument for the simplistic and agenda-driven construct that it was. Parsing the 1,000-plus-page statute in a succinct 21-page opinion, he deftly wove in quotations from recent Supreme Court opinions.

These were all opinions – written by Justice Scalia – which rightly noted that short ambiguous phrases could be easily understood in the context of the law’s purpose and framework.  Of course, Gail Collins had a perhaps more direct take:

The court decided — in what opponents decried as a wild leap of judgment — that it was not going to strip millions of people of their health coverage and upend one of the most important pieces of legislation in modern history because of a four-word drafting error.

Reality won.  God really does move in mysterious ways.

“Nothing in this world is indifferent to us” – While I am stretching my 7-day time frame a bit, these recent words from Pope Francis’ encyclical on Care for our Common Home fits into the pattern of change. For far too long, we have heard from the religious right that humans are the masters of the universe, and that changes in our climate are either non-existent or not related to human activity.  But Pope Francis, writing to all the peoples of the world, speaks from a very different perspective.

This sister (our common home) now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Dana Beach of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League connected the dots between the pope’s encyclical and the events at Mother Emanuel.

Like the Emanuel AME community, Francis emphasizes the central role love must play in our world, in this case, to stop catastrophic environmental degradation. From his extensive declaration, “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.”

And yet another long and contentious conversation is changed by grace.

Amazing Grace – At some other point I’ll write more about how these themes played out in my work over the past week – where colleagues in Charleston visited Emanuel A.M.E. Church, saw the tangible expressions of concern, support, hope, and prayer that people left in front of the church, and helped the members of Mother Emanuel begin planning for their preservation. Where the National Trust and other preservation groups highlighted landmarks of the LGBT civil rights movement, places that each in their own way helped lead to this week’s ruling.  Where colleagues and I met in New York to advance our work to build sustainable and livable cities as part of our common home.  But all of that is for another post or two.  I want to give President Obama the last word, as he wrapped up his powerful reflection on grace.

That’s what I’ve felt this week — an open heart.  That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what’s called upon right now, I think — what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls “that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.”  

That reservoir of goodness.  If we can find that grace, anything is possible. If we can tap that grace, everything can change.

Amazing grace.  Amazing grace. 

(Begins to sing) — Amazing grace — how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

Clementa Pinckney found that grace.  

Cynthia Hurd found that grace.  

Susie Jackson found that grace.  

Ethel Lance found that grace.  

DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace.

Tywanza Sanders found that grace.  

Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace.  

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace.  

Myra Thompson found that grace.

Through the example of their lives, they’ve now passed it on to us.  May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift, as long as our lives endure.  May grace now lead them home.  May God continue to shed His grace on the United States of America.


More to come…


Observations from Home (The Mother Emanuel Edition)

Mother Emanuel Church

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston (photo credit: emanuelamechurch.org)

The horrific murders during the Wednesday evening Bible study of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, have rarely left my mind over the past few days. I have talked about it with colleagues who live in the city, prayed for the victims and their families during a conference on the legacy of African-American Rosenwald Schools, read dozens of articles and commentaries, and had long conversations over the family dinner table – all to try to make sense out of the senseless.

To take another step in that process, I’m adding to my “Observations from Home” series with this collection of unrelated observations and thoughts which all revolve around the many issues raised by this racist rampage.

Bible Study – Those of us who grew up in the 20th century South in the evangelical tradition understand the nature of a weekday gathering to study scripture. The regulars are the spiritual seekers and mentors who take their faith very seriously. When I heard that the shootings had taken place at the weekday Bible study, I didn’t have to wait for the news reports to tell me that these people would be nurturing, loving leaders who lived out their faith in their daily lives.  And the reports soon confirmed that these were nine remarkable people – beginning with the 41-year-old pastor and State Senator but also including a poet, a librarian, a girls’ track coach, the church sexton, and more.

As I write this, the Emanuel AME Church website has not been updated to reflect the carnage that took place in this sacred place last Wednesday at the hands of a 21-year-old white supremacist.  So it is especially heart-rendering to read the description of Wednesday evening Bible study found there:

Is something missing from your life? Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God? If you have a desire to learn more about God, then join us on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the lower level of the church. We look forward to seeing you!

I Forgive You – There will be many responses – and non-responses – to this race-based terrorist attack from those who profess a Christian faith.  Many of those responses will be very sincere and meaningful, but others will simply attempt to frame the discussion in a way that upholds their worldview. One of the worst stains among many in the South’s racial history is the church’s role in supporting first slavery and then racial inequality.

I could go on a rant here about how the so-called Christian right (which is neither) espouses beliefs that are the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus. But I couldn’t do a better job of demonstrating Jesus’ true response than the family members of the victims did at the bail hearing. Time and again, they simply said, “I forgive you” to the angry young man who found it was appropriate to kill nine innocent people because he – in his own misguided way and spurred by the hatred so often found in our public discourse – felt his world was threatened.

The New York Times covered this remarkable outpouring by reporting:

One by one, they looked to the screen in a corner of the courtroom on Friday, into the expressionless face of the young man charged with making them motherless, snuffing out the life of a promising son, taking away a loving wife for good, bringing a grandmother’s life to a horrific end. And they answered him with forgiveness.

“You took something very precious away from me,” said Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, her voice rising in anguish. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

But the Times, like almost all of the national media, missed the chance to compare this moving and deep faith-based response with the typical stand of today’s politicians and professional pastors who claim the religious mantle as their own, but quickly call for violence as a response to violence – be it domestic or international. To me, this witness by the family members of the victims was the one ray of hope to come from this inexplicable sadness.

Terrorism – I cannot follow all the arguments about how we do – or don’t – describe this act.  But there is no doubt that it fits within a 400+ year history of terrorism against African-Americans in the United States. We are quick to respond to perceived terrorist threats from abroad, but as a country we have turned a blind eye to the terrorism at home. 4,000 lynchings from 1877 to 1950; the KKK’s 1870 burning of nearly every black church in Tuskegee, Alabama; the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 that left four little girls dead; the recent wave of killings against unarmed African Americans…all are part and parcel of a racial history in the United States that has seen one group of American citizens live in fear and search – usually in vain – for a safe place. And what should be the safest place of all – a House of God – is often the first target. This most recent example was a hate crime. It was racially motivated. And while it may have been perpetrated by a lone individual acting out his own misguided sense of how his country should respond to change, it was part of a centuries-long terrorist campaign.

Guns, Race, Flags…Oh, the South – William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom, includes the famous passage where Quentin Compson’s puzzled Canadian roommate at Harvard says to him:

“Tell about the South. What it’s like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.”

This is one of those times when you wonder if those who look at the baggage of the South and suggest that perhaps we would be better off without the region may be right. I know I look at the worst impulses of South today and fear for our country and our souls.

Let’s start with the region’s obsession with guns. We’ll have commentators who will say that easy access to guns doesn’t have a thing to do with our violent history. Or worse, we’ll have a board member of the NRA from Texas blame the church’s pastor for voting against a measure in the South Carolina legislature which would have made it legal to carry concealed guns into churches. Why didn’t I think of that? The world will be much safer and better off if we have armed guards at Bible study!

Then there is race, and the extra toxic mixture of racial inequality and the Confederate flag. One of the most willfully misleading strains of thought I heard came from commentators who said that the killer was focusing on Christians, and not African-Americans. Let’s just get out the blinders. This is a region – as noted in The Bitter Southernerwhere people…

“…will argue, in all sincerity, that the Confederacy entered the Civil War only to defend the concept of states’ rights and that secession had nothing to do with the desire to keep slavery alive. We still become a national laughing stock because some small town somewhere has not figured out how to hold a high school prom that includes kids of all races. “

I have heard “heritage not hate” about the Confederate flag for years, often from people who are related to me in one way or the other. These are people who are reading airbrushed Southern history, or have had teachers (sometimes their parents) who simply do not know what they are talking about.

God I want to believe that there are a growing number of people in the South who “do things that honor genuinely honorable traditions” yet view “our region’s contradictions and are determined to throw our dishonorable traditions out the window.” My hope begins with those family members of the victims who said, “I forgive you.” But of course, we need many more people – and especially white Southerners – to take up that mantle.

Is There Hope? Jon Stewart says no.

“Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals, and the white guy’s the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing. Al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they’re not s— compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”

The Economist has doubts as well.

“The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become—for those not directly affected by tragedy—ritualised and then blend into the background noise. That normalisation makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.”

I don’t know how or when we may work through this as a people, but sooner or later we have to own this past. That, it seems to me, is the first step. As an individual I have to find my personal  response, even in the face of hopelessness; my own way to play a role in helping throw our dishonorable traditions out the window.

More to come…


Observations from Home (The June Weekend Edition)

Omaha Beach, Normandy

Omaha Beach, Normandy

I was at Nationals Park on Saturday, enjoying a sunny, summer day; appreciating the Nat’s celebration of the anniversary of D-Day; and joining in the banter of friends – new and long-time – that can only come when you have 3+ hours to sit and chat between pitches. One of those friends opined that a bad day at the ballpark (the Nats lost) is still better than almost any other day.  So count that as the first observation in a series of unrelated thoughts in this “June Weekend” edition of Observations From Home. As noted before, you can take them or leave them.

Remembering D-Day – Saturday was June 6th, and a series of WWII veterans – many who saw action at Normandy in June of 1944 – were honored at the ballpark and helped throw out the first pitch.  I’ve written about these heroes before – including one who lives next door – but it is becoming very clear that we have only a few more years before this generation passes on to its reward.  Every chance we get to celebrate the sacrifice they made, we should take it.  It was an honor to stand and cheer for these veterans yesterday.


Capital Crescent Trail

The Capital Crescent Trail

Take the bike ride – This afternoon, I was weighing a nap versus a bike ride.  I took the bike ride – about 90 minutes along the Capital Crescent Trail (our unpaved, non-superhighway side from Silver Spring to Bethesda). It was beautiful, with a gentle breeze and – surprisingly – not too many users on the trail.  I love our bike trails – the Capital Crescent and Sligo Creek trails being the two I ride most often.  I know what is usually the right choice between a nap and a bike ride.  Take the bike ride.

Thank God it is only June – I’ll circle back to the Nationals. After a couple of weeks of lackluster play against the Reds, Blue Jays, and Cubs, we all have to stop and remember that it is only June.  (Perhaps some of the Nats should join the “Yoga in the Outfield” promotion that is taking place right about now following yet another Nats loss to the Cubs.)  I hope that F.P. (one of the Nats’ television announcers) is right about the team only playing well when the weather warms up.  This late-May, early-June coolness certainly cooled off the bats. As part of the banter among our section at the park yesterday, my friend Dolores – who is part of my season ticket group and who I’ll join for 2 or 3 games each year – was talking about Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. She made the comment that she has “had it” with Strasburg and all his injuries and issues, and noted that “One is headstrong and the other’s a head case.”  The headstrong one was fine by her (and me). I’m not ready to write Strasburg off, but it is tough…as Tom Boswell recently noted:

When I watch Strasburg pitch on his funk days, a dark cloud passes across my mind. I feel the same mean desire to say, “Million-dollar arm, ten-cent head” that swept over me when I watched the early years of other young underachievers: Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven and Randy Johnson. In moments of lucidity, I would realize that their “makeup” — in different ways — was blocking peak performance. Plenty of their early managers and teammates saw them as “head cases,” too. All got ripped for years. None were cut slack. (Now they’re all in the Hall of Fame.)

Okay, time to come back to the ballpark and do it again.  It is a long season.

Did the American Civil War Ever End? – One of the best sustained remembrances of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has been the “Disunion” series in the New York Times.  I hadn’t focused on the fact that the editor – Ted Widmer – was the assistant to the President of Brown University, or I might have looked him up when we were there for Andrew’s graduation a couple of weeks ago.

In any event, Widmer wrote a piece last week for the series that asked the question, “Did the American Civil War Ever End?”  It is well worth a read.  Here’s a sample, where Widmer speaks about the impact of a huge number of veterans and the unintended consequences of the huge number of guns:

Many veterans retained their sidearms, including Confederate officers, and weapons were easily available, thanks to an arms industry that had done great service to the Union cause. They could hardly be expected to voluntarily go out of business. With new products (like Winchester’s Model 1866 rifle), sophisticated distribution networks and a public eager to buy, the industry entered a highly profitable phase. Winchester’s repeating rifles needed hardly any time for reloading, and sold briskly in Europe, where American arms tipped the balance in local conflicts.

The Winchester was easily transported to the West, where new military campaigns were undertaken against Native Americans, and few could be blamed for wondering if the Civil War had in fact ended. Many of the same actors were present, and it could be argued that this was simply another phase of the crisis of Union, reconciling East and West, rather than North and South.

This tragic epilogue does not fit cleanly into the familiar narrative of the Civil War as a war of liberation. Peoples who had lived on ancestral lands for thousands of years were no match for a grimly experienced army, eager to occupy new lands, in part to reward the soldiers who had done the fighting.

Natives called the repeating rifles “spirit guns,” and had no answer for them. They fought courageously, but in the end had no choice but to accept relocation, often to reservations hundreds of miles away. Adolf Hitler would cite these removals as a precedent for the Nazi concentration camps.

Take the time to read this piece. It will make you think.

More to come…





Happy Graduation Day, Andrew

Cathedral Chorister

Andrew has been singing since his days as a National Cathedral Chorister, so it was no surprise that graduation weekend was filled with his music.

Andrew has been singing professionally since he was 8 years old.  So fourteen years later, it comes as no surprise that as we celebrate his graduation from Brown University, the weekend has been filled with his music.

(Editor’s Note:  This is the second of two posts about the commencement weekends as the twins graduated from college.  I treat my blog like the 21st century version of letter writing, in that I can write one item and it can go out to family and friends everywhere.  These blog posts are all about family.  If you don’t want to read about how wonderful my children are – then stop reading.  Note…you’ve been warned!)

Candice, Claire, and I arrived home on Tuesday from Claire’s graduation just in time to fall into bed, get up the next morning to run errands and wash clothes, and then pile into the car on Thursday to drive to Providence to be with Andrew.  As one friend said, “You all must be approaching exhaustion, but what a lovely way to get there . . .”

Lovely, indeed.

At the Van Wickle Gates

Andrew at Brown University’s Van Wickle Gates – part of the rite of passage of the Class of 2015

We connected with Andrew on Friday and began the necessary task of packing the dorm room.  Andrew benefited by being the second twin in this regard.  We came prepared with boxes, supplies, and a plan!  Two hours later we were well past the halfway point and walked down to celebrate over a lunch of Greek delicacies at Andreas – one of Andrew’s favorites along the commercial core – Thayer Street – that cuts through the college campus.

The first of four musical treats came later in the day, as the Brown University Madrigal Singers held their Commencement 2015 Concert in the beautiful St. Stephens Episcopal Church, located in the heart of the college campus in Providence.

Alex and Andrew

Alex Warstadt and Andrew, the two graduating singers from the Madrigals

Andrew was one of two graduating seniors in the Madrigals, and he also served as the music director for the year.  (Alex Warstadt, the other graduating senior, had that role his junior year.)  The group performed a wonderful 60-minute concert, beginning with the beautiful Ubi Caritas by Maurice Duruflé.


Brown University Madrigal Singers

The selections were varied, with several holding personal meaning for three of the singers.  Alex introduced a Kyrie that he had composed for a contrapuntal composition class.  Sami Overby noted that two of the songs – from Ogden Nash’s Four Animal Poems – had been set to music by his great-uncle, Rolf Overby, while at St. Olaf’s College.  The Termite – with a “knock, knock” going on behind the main lyrics – was a crowd favorite:

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

Then Andrew floored me with the introduction to Orlando GibbonsMagnificat (Short Service).  He said it was important to him to have this piece included in the concert because he had heard it as a young boy on a recording of his father’s early music group Canticum Novum*, and always loved its simple beauty.  He noted that I was in the audience that evening, and then the Madrigals sang this wonderful composition – bringing memories from my heart and tears to my eyes.

(*Note:  If you go to the link above, check  out Lesson #37)

After a delightful Now is the Month of Maying, and a tune performed for the seniors, Andrew announced that the traditional ending for a Brown University Madrigals Concert was John Clements’ Flower of Beauty, and he invited the alumni from the group to join them.

Flower of Beauty

The Madrigal Singers and their Alumni sing “Flower of Beauty”

It was a wonderful evening, and we were delighted that another Brown alumni – our dear friend Kristin Faust who, with her daughter Sojourner, moved from Silver Spring to Chicago last spring – was there to share it with us.  Andrew and Claire then left to go to the “The Campus Dance” (along with 11,000 of their closest friends) for a night of fun and fireworks, while Candice and I had a wonderful meal at one of our favorite Providence restaurants, Gracie’s.

Andrew and Claire

Andrew and Claire at the Campus Dance


Fireworks at the Campus Dance

Saturday dawned bright, clear, and cool in Providence, and we were up not too much after dawn!  Andrew was one of two soloists for the morning’s All-class Memorial Service, a very moving remembrance, led by The Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University.  Our good friends from Silver Spring – Dolores McDonagh and Jamie Karn – joined us, as they were in town for Dolores’ 35th reunion at Brown.  (Andrew has now figured out that he’ll see Kristin and Dolores at each of his major reunions in the future.  Both have been very supportive of Andrew. Kristin, who heads up Neighborhood Housing Services in Chicago – has bonded with Andrew over his Urban Studies work, while Dolores – a fellow a capella aficionado – has encouraged him in his singing.)

All Class Memorial Service

Andrew sings at the All Class Memorial Service, with University Organist Mark Steinbach on the piano

In the early afternoon, it was time for the Baccalaureate Service, held at the historic First Baptist Church in America.  Besides the music and Urban Studies communities, Andrew has many friends through his membership in the Alpha Delta Phi Society at Brown, and we were thrilled to see the seniors from Alpha Delta Phi processing down the hill together.  This is a remarkable group of young men and women – as their website describes them, “a cozy, co-ed community of musicians, scientists, and philosophers.”  Andrew has lived in the Alpha Delta Phi house on campus for three years, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know these remarkable individuals and their parents.  (Plus, we always enjoy the Friday afternoon tea held during Parents’ Weekend!)

A D Phi Seniors

Andrew and his fellow seniors from the Alpha Delta Phi Society in the procession to Saturday’s Baccalaureate Service

During the service, which we watched on the big screen in Sayles Hall on the College Green, Andrew joined the chorus in singing Randall Thompson’s Alleluia.


Andrew (far left in the rear) as part of the chorus singing Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” at Saturday’s Baccalaureate Service

Following the service, we hustled down to the Grant Recital Hall for the 34th annual senior recital – The Carl and Dorothy O. Jagolinzer Memorial Commencement Concert.  The Jagolinzer family – who sponsor the recital in honor of their parents – joined friends and family to hear two hours of wonderful music from music concentrators and others – like Andrew – who have studied extensively in the music department at Brown.

Andrew sings Mozart

Andrew and pianist Simon Goldring, following their performance of Mozart at the Jagolinzer Memorial Concert

Accompanied by Simon Goldring – a very talented musician from Hingham, Norfolk, England – Andrew sang Mozart’s Del più sublime soglio, closing out his singing career at Brown with a wonderful performance.  Afterwards, the family had a chance to meet Arlene Cole, whose Advanced Musicianship class ranks as Andrew’s most favorite and challenging class in the music department.  He has loved his connections with Fred Jodry, Brad Fugate, and all his music professors at Brown.

Andrew with Arlene Cole

Andrew with his Advanced Music professor, Arlene Cole

I have to admit that when we woke up on Sunday morning for graduation day, I still didn’t understand how this “processional” from the College Green, through the Van Wickle Gates (where they processed in as freshmen), and down the hill to The First Baptist Church in America was going to work…and hold my attention for two hours.  As we hiked up College Hill early in the morning, the stripe (in Brown’s school colors) and the barriers gave a hint that something big was in the works.

Processional Route

The Brown colors in the center stripe designate the processional route

But Andrew (and our Brown friends) kept insisting that the processional was the heart and soul of the Brown commencement, and that we really wanted to experience it on-site, as opposed to watching on the big screens at the College Green.  Andrew suggested we join the Alpha Delta Phi Society cheering section outside the Gerard House (an earlier house of Alpha Delta Phi, before they moved on campus) to get the full flavor.  Oh my!

AD Phi Cheering Section

We joined the Alpha Delta Phi cheering section along the processional route

What came next was the most remarkable two hours of commencement I’ve ever seen – without any official speakers or conferring of degrees.  Brown has a tremendous reunion culture, in part because the alumni get to participate in – and relive – the processional each year.  The procession comes through the Van Wickle gates, led by the oldest reunion classes (75th, in this year’s case…remember, that’s a 97-year old individual!). The reunion classes then line the streets, creating a tunnel of humanity that is clapping, cheering, and generally having a wonderful time for two full hours.  The classes are easy to spot – not only by the age of the graduates, but by the signs they make to tell the class of 2015 what Brown was like “back in the day.”

Reunion signs

You can tell the reunion groups by their signs along the procession

Once all the reunion classes are in place, then the students from the class of 2015 begin their walk down College Hill, and the cheering is incredible. Everyone is in a very festive mood.


Andrew processes through the ranks of reunion groups and faculty on graduation day

When Andrew and his fellow seniors from Alpha Delta Phi came by our vantage point, the “cheering section” began to sing one of the society’s songs – with the soon-to-be-graduates joining in.  Claire was my “spotter” in finding Andrew – and other friends – in the crowd, while she and Candice also took pictures and videos on their iPhones.  At the bottom of the hill, the class of 2015 lines up along the sides of the road and then the alumni reunion groups process through them – to raucous cheering and singing.  This goes on for almost two hours. On a picture-perfect weather day, it was magical.

Andrew waves from the procession

The happy graduate!

After a brief ceremony on the lawn of The First Baptist Church in America, the class walks back up College Hill for ceremonies on the Green.  As was the case last week, the two student speakers were outstanding, and the actual ceremony was relatively short.  Because of the size of the graduating class, diplomas are given out by departments.  The Urban Studies distribution ceremony and reception was held at the Brown Faculty Club, a fitting historic building for a program focused on the design and function of urban areas.

Urban Studies

Andrew is recognized during the Urban Studies reception at the Faculty Club

Program Director Dietrich Neumann is one of Andrew’s favorite professors – especially following a six-week class on Modern Architecture and Urbanism that he took in Spain the summer after his sophomore year.  Professor Neumann (an expert on Mies van der Rohe – and yes, we did talk about flood mitigation at the Farnsworth House!) was the MC for the event, which recognized outstanding work by urban studies students.  The 14 concentrators received their diplomas, and then all the parents and family toasted the new graduates.

Urban Studies

2015 Urban Studies graduates with program director Dietrich Neumann

Receiving his diploma

Andrew receives his diploma at the Urban Studies reception from professors Stefano Bloch and Dietrich Neumann, along with Brown Corporation Trustee Emeritus James Winoker

Photo by Claire

Claire’s champagne salute “to her favorite urban studies graduate”

Following the ceremony at the Faculty Club, we joined the other graduates and their families, plus the members of the faculty and staff of the Urban Studies program, for a lively reception full of hugs, pictures, and stories.

The Happy Family celebrates Andrew

Candice, DJB, and Claire with the happy graduate, at the Brown Faculty Club

DUG Co-Leaders

Andrew with Jenna Klorfein, DUG Co-Leaders for the Urban Studies Program

Andrew and Dietrich

Andrew with Professor Dietrich Neumann, Director of the Urban Studies Program at Brown University

We ended Sunday night at another of our favorite Providence restaurants, The Salted Slate.  The room was packed with celebratory families and friends – including a couple of Andrew’s friends – and we toasted the newly minted Brown University graduate.

Brown Celebration at the Salted Slate

Celebrating Andrew’s graduation at The Salted Slate, one of our favorite Providence restaurants

Monday we arose for breakfast at Blue State Coffee (which, along with Ellie’s, ranks at the top of my list of bakeries and coffee houses), before completing the packing of Andrew’s dorm room.  We then met up with our friends Kristen and Sojourner for a delightful lunch along Thayer Street.  Because Providence is such a wonderful food town, we’re heading out again on Monday night for dinner at The Grange, a highly recommended Vegetable Restaurant, to close out our celebration of Andrew’s wonderful accomplishments.

The members of Alpha Delta Phi gave Andrew and the other seniors a remembrance of the years at Brown University. For Andrew’s, each member wrote something to describe him or to say what he meant to them. Over and over I read words such as kind, caring, passionate, talented, intelligent, and more.  Several mentioned about how he was always there for them. I smiled, thinking of how these “musicians, scientists, and philosophers” had seen the same talented, sensitive and caring young man that we so love.

Congratulations, Andrew!  What a wonderful accomplishment.  Mom and I are so proud of you and we can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings!

With love and more to come…


Happy Graduation Day, Claire

Claire at Easter 1994

Our Claire…always the student

Twenty-two years ago, I never dreamed this day would come.

Not that Claire wasn’t always eager to learn.  But when your hands are full with new twins, two decades seems like such a long time in the future.

But the years have flown by and this weekend finds us in Southern California for Claire’s graduation from Pomona College. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were all flying here to leave our daughter on the west coast, at a school she obviously loved but that seemed so far away from home?

Pomona was recommended to Claire by Leonard King, her insightful and supportive high school teacher and college counselor at Maret, who had an amazing record of linking students with just the right college that offered the most chance for personal and intellectual growth.  Claire and I first saw Pomona together on a spring break trip. When she decided to apply early decision and Candice was concerned about having her so far from home, I did what any take-charge father would do: I said to Candice, “You take her for a visit and then you tell her she can’t go!”  (Clever, huh?)  Candice – just like Claire and me – fell in love with the beautiful campus, the intellectual pursuits of the faculty and students, and the feeling of support and understanding that permeates the college.

Claire at Pomona

Our Pomona Class of 2015 Graduate

Claire’s senior year began last August, after our memorable cross-country road trip, which could stand as a metaphor for the year ahead.  Nine months later, here we are, celebrating the end of one journey and the beginning of another.  Andrew – flying in from Boston – joined us on Thursday night (actually Friday morning, as his plane was late) so the three of us could be in attendance to celebrate our Claire. We began the packing of the dorm room on Friday morning, to get a jump on the work that no one really wants to undertake.

Claire with Jason

Claire with Jason Harris at Friday’s taco dinner

Claire has met the most amazing and thoughtful group of friends while at Pomona, and their generosity of spirit came through on Friday night.  Claire and her suitemates joined two other suites to host a taco dinner for their families, as a way of saying “thank you.” While the (welcomed in drought-striken Southern California) rain drove the party indoors, it was a great time to reconnect with families and friends we’ve come to know over these four years – some from as close as Georgetown and others from throughout the world. That generosity continued on Saturday morning when one of Claire’s swim teammates – Hannah – and her family included us in their rooftop brunch to kick off the day of celebration.

Rooftop Garden Brunch

Rooftop Garden Brunch

It didn’t take us long to realize that we were going to eat our way through the graduation weekend.  From the rooftop garden of Sontag Hall, we walked over to Lincoln Hall – and the amazing James Turrell Skyspace installation – for a luncheon with the Psychology majors and faculty.

Psychology Faculty Lunch

Claire with Shlomi Sher (L) and Sharon Goto (R), members of the Psychology Faculty, at Saturday’s lunch

Psychology Faculty Lunch

Claire with Psychology Professor Jessie Borelli beside the James Turrell Skyspace

Claire has loved her work in psychology with these amazing professors, and is excited to have a position in Los Angeles beginning in August with the Episcopal Urban Internship Program that will let her build on her study in real world applications.

One of the traditions at Pomona is that the incoming freshman class walks through the gates to the college, and the graduating seniors walk back out through those gates during graduation weekend.  Led by a bagpiper, the class of 2015 celebrated as they walked through those gates and off to Class Day and dinner.  We closed out the evening with a Glee Club concert in Little Bridges Music Hall that was wonderful.  Andrew – our professional – was singing their praises through the rest of the weekend.

Marching through Pomona's gates

Claire – and the class of 2015 – march through the gates of Pomona and out into the world

Sunday morning finally arrived, and – having scoped out the scene the day before – we arrived early to sit where we could see Claire in the procession and have a great view of the stage.  Held on Marston Quadrangle in the middle of campus, graduation takes place beneath a shade canopy.  Here’s an excerpt from the description in the program:

The shade canopy above the graduates is the work of Los Angeles artists Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess and architectural designer Emily White.  It was first installed for the Pomona 2009 College Commencement, with faculty, students, and staff helping to attach the streamers to the net.  The shade structure is based on “Voronoi tessellaions,” algorithms of weaving and lace-making, coordinated with a solar incidence angle study that determines an optimum density pattern, allowing for shade where most needed, and keeping the canopy as lightweight and transparent as possible. The net’s lattice follows a pattern…derived from string figures, known as “clown’s collar.”

Shade Canopy

Pomona College Graduation Shade Canopy

Another Pomona tradition is the wearing of leis by many of the graduates.  We had ordered two – one from our family and one from Claire’s Grandmother Colando – and Andrew and I met Claire on Sunday morning to help her prepare for the processional. While there, swim team coach Jean-Paul Gowdy – known to all as J.P. and a true mentor for Claire in her four years on the team – stopped by for a hug and congratulations.

Graduation Lei

Andrew helps Claire with her graduation lei

Claire with Coach JP

Swim Coach JP Gowdy stops by to add his congratulations

Preparing to process

Andrew and DJB with Claire, as she prepares to process into graduation

Then we took our seats and it was time for the processional.


Claire processes in for graduation

Claire has had multiple communities at Pomona – all of which have nurtured and helped her grow while she has contributed to their health and vitality. The swim team is one of the most important, and they were there throughout commencement.  J.P. looked cool in his shades, while the team cheered loudly – and waved “Big Heads” – anytime a swim team senior received a diploma.

Swim Coach

Coach JP – the coolest faculty member in the procession

Swim team cheering section

Swim team cheering section – with Jackie and Claire looking over the proceedings

This was one of those ceremonies where the student speakers gave the featured commencement speaker a run for her money…they were that good.  Of the four honorary degrees, we all agreed that the remarks by Michael Dickerson (’01), were not only the most humorous, but also the most insightful.  Dickerson – the administrator of the newly created U.S. Digital Service in the White House – spoke about how his work at Google, with the Obama campaign, and as one of the chief “fixers” of HealthCare.gov was not part of any great plan.  In fact, he said he “Wasn’t speaking to all those folks at the top of the program who were graduating with various honors and probably had their lives figured out, but to everyone else who didn’t have a clue as to what they would be doing tomorrow.”  That spoke to not only a great many graduates, but also their families.

The Browns were also pleased to see that another of the honorary degrees went to Andrew Lewison Hoyem (’57), the founder of the Arion Press.  When he was being introduced as someone who had been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Claire turned to her seatmate and said, “That’s where my dad works!”

Two hours into the ceremony, the college began handing out the degrees.  And it was a wonderful celebration!

Marching across the stage

Claire receives her degree from Pomona President David Oxtoby

Claire in the recessional

Claire in the recessional

We cheered for Claire and her friends (both old and new), cried a bit (well, at least I did), and joined the new graduates on the quad for photos, photos, and more photos.  (Yes, I was the official photographer of Claire Brown’s graduation.)

Candice and Claire

Candice celebrates with the new graduate

The Browns at Pomona

Candice, DJB, and Andrew with the graduate – the Happy Family

One of the first group of students Claire met her freshman year was the sponsor group from her dorm.  These graduating seniors met on the steps of Little Bridges after the ceremony one last time for a photo and hugs.  Of course the swim team seniors also gathered, with a large group of supporters there to cheer them on.

Freshman Sponsor Group

Freshman Sponsor Group

Swim Team Seniors

2015 Pomona-Pitzer Swim Team Seniors following graduation

There are a number of Washington-area students at Pomona and the Claremont Colleges.  One who Claire didn’t know until she arrived at Pomona is now her dear friend Ella Taranto.  Of course, Andrew used to sing with Ella’s older sister at the National Cathedral, and the Taranto’s have multiple connections to friends of ours in the DC-area.  And – no surprise here – both will be in Southern California come this fall.

Claire with Ella

Claire and Ella – they lived several miles from each other and went to high schools that were less than two miles apart, but had to travel across the country to find each other and establish a wonderful friendship

Claire’s suitemates her Sophomore and Senior years have all become very special friends.  Two – Jackie and Ali – were in her suite both years and are fellow swim team members. Kyra was in the sophomore group, and Susan joined the crew their senior year.  These are all incredibly talented and wonderful young ladies, and our entire family’s life has been enriched by knowing them.

Claire with Susan

Claire with her suitemate Susan

Claire with Jackie

Claire with her suitemate Jackie

Claire with Ali

Claire with her suitemate Ali

Sophomore and Senior Suitemates

Claire’s suitemates from her Sophomore and Senior Years – Susan (Sr), Ali (So/Sr), Jackie (So/Sr), and Kyra (So)

And the parents of these wonderful young ladies have also become friends, so we gathered for pictures – and a celebratory high-five.

Senior Parents

Vickie, Bruce, Candice, David, John, and Margaret – Parents from the Senior Suite

Parents celebrate

The parents celebrate graduation!

Sunday’s celebration ended at Union on Yale, Claire’s favorite Claremont restaurant (since Claremont Craft Ales doesn’t technically count as a restautant!).  We toasted the graduate, enjoyed oysters and other good food, and reflected on the past four wonderful years at Pomona College.

At Union on Yale

Celebrating the graduate at Union on Yale – Claire’s favorite Claremont restaurant

Andrew may have said it best on his Facebook post as he jumped on the red-eye back to Boston to begin his Senior Week celebrations.

Today, I saw my twin sister and best friend graduate from Pomona College after four years of hard work, joys, challenges, and triumphs.  I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am to call you my sister.  Congratulations, Claire!  I love you.

I can’t even begin to describe how proud Mom and I are to call you our daughter.  Congratulations, and all our love.

More to come…


Remembering Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Twenty years ago today, an unspeakable horror took place at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Five years ago, I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, erected to memorialize the lives lost, and wrote this post about that place and the need for remembrance.

In his recent series about Why Old Places Matter?, my  colleague Tom Mayes wrote about the importance of memory.  He quotes Randall Mason in noting that “Memory is an essential part of consciousness….”  Tom adds, “Memory contributes to the sense of continuity. Memory also gives people identity—both individual identity and a collective identity.”

No place demonstrates that better than the Oklahoma City National Memorial. At the 20th anniversary of the events of April 19, 1995, this memorial continues to help us to remember, while also helping us to regain the consciousness we need as humans.

More to come…


Religious Freedom 101: A Lesson from Old Places

The First Baptist Church

A reminder from The First Baptist Church, Providence, RI

We are hearing a great deal these days about religious freedom. Much of it comes from individuals who appear – from their comments – to know little of our country’s history.  For the past three days, I’ve been immersed in a state where all Americans would be well advised to come for a class on Religious Freedom 101.

One of the truly misunderstood stories in American history is that of Rhode Island and the establishment of religious freedom. My father – that lonely breed of Southern Christian liberal – has spent the past decade or more writing letters to the editor that remind his fellow church-goers of the importance of the separation of church and state. For my part, I’ve been in Providence and Newport this week, and took the time to visit two of the landmarks of the nation’s move to ensure that all had religious freedom, including the right not to worship.

Friday, I was in Newport for a series of meetings that began at Touro Synagogue, a National Historic Landmark and an affiliate site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Standing as a landmark to religious freedom for all Americans, Touro Synagogue, dedicated in 1763, is the oldest synagogue building in the United States.  As described on the National Trust website:

A structure of exquisite beauty and design, steeped in history and ideals, the synagogue is considered one of the ten most architecturally distinguished buildings of 18th century America and the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States.

The congregation was founded in 1658 by the descendants of Jewish families who had fled the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal and who themselves left the Caribbean seeking the greater religious tolerance that Rhode Island offered.

Touro Synagogue

Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

By the time those families came to Rhode Island, the “lively experiment” that was Rhode Island was already underway.  An exhibit in the Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr. Visitor’s Center (and captured on the website) explains it best:

Rhode Island’s experience was a catalyst to the development of these values (that the acceptance of the separation of church and state was a uniquely American value).  Under the terms of its founding Charter, Rhode Island stood alone among the colonies in its desire to “hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil State may stand and best be maintained, with a full liberty of religious concernments.”

Roger Williams and his followers were convinced that religion was a matter of conscience between an individual and his God, not the government. The founding documents for Providence, Rhode Island indicate a clear division between the public, civil realm and the private world of belief:

We, whose names are here under, desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to subject ourselves, in active or passive obedience, to all such orders or agreements as shall be made for public good of the body in an orderly way, by the major assent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a town-fellowship, and such others whom they shall admit unto them, only in civil things.

“Only in civil things.” This phrase, assumed to be from the pen of Roger Williams himself, establishes the principal of religious liberty that was to become the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the Rhode Island Colony, only matters of civil interest were to be considered by the town-fellowship. Matters of theology, doctrine, and religious practice were to be considered apart from the realm of civic discourse and within the confines of the individual consciousness or “soul-thought.”

The Charter of the Rhode Island Colony, negotiated in 1663 by Newport founder John Clark on behalf of the Rhode Island colonists from King Charles II of England, clearly demonstrates that religious freedom was the prime reason for the colony’s existence. Rhode Island’s Charter, which served as state constitution until 1842, includes this unique provision:

No person within the said Colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion, in matters of religion, who does not actually disturb the peace of our said Colony ; but that all and every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his own and their judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of land heretofore mentioned, they behaving themselves peaceably and quietly and not using this liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, nor to the civil injury or outward disturbance of others.

Touro’s unique place in American history came about in 1790, when in response to a letter from the congregation, President George Washington eloquently defined the new nation’s standard for religious freedom and civil liberties. He declared that America would…“give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Providence – where I spent the rest of the trip – is a city that celebrates its religious history.  Few communities carry off having a “Steeple Street” with the history that Providence does.  (It is even obvious in the city’s name!)

Steeple Street

Steeple Street, Providence

The most important of those houses of worship, from a historical standpoint, is The First Baptist Church, Providence.

The First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church, Providence, RI

Note that I didn’t write “the First Baptist Church in Providence.”  No, this is THE FIRST Baptist Church IN AMERICA. 

Historical Marker

Historical Marker on The First Baptist Church, Providence,

Coupled with the Roger Williams National Memorial, managed by the National Park Service, The First Baptist Church tells an important story that is as fresh as today’s headlines.  I’ve given a couple of speeches recently that focus on the relevance of historic places today.  Here’s what I said in the most recent one:

When we change our focus (in preservation, from buildings) to people, we become serious about relevance. In many of the places we save, and in the way we approach their conservation, we often talk about the “period of significance.” But at the National Trust we are turning that on its head, and asking, “What if the period of significance is now?”

At President Lincoln’s Cottage, where Abraham Lincoln conceived the Emancipation Proclamation, understanding that “the period of significance is now” leads us to use of the site as the springboard for exhibits, lectures, and projects that address human trafficking in the 21st century. Slavery, unfortunately, didn’t end in 1865.

Old places can be eloquent in  helping us think about how the lessons of the past inform us about today’s issues…whether those issues be human trafficking (Lincoln’s Cottage), immigration (The Lower East Side Tenement Museum), labor relations and income inequality (Pullman), or religious liberty (Touro Synagogue and The First Baptist Church).

Visit a historic site, and connect the past with today’s big issues.

More to come…



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