Pictured on her engagement day to my Dad, Bertel Adams, my Mom—Muriel Landsmark Adams-Tuitt—would have been 96 today. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Mom was born to Afri-Caribbean immigrants William and Myra Landsmark in New York City on November 1, 1923. As their three little girls grew, Willie took them with him everywhere—usually "boy" places; places that reminded him of the sea and his Caribbean home—challenging their minds in ways many reserved solely for their sons.
Credentialed as a New York City teacher and principal, she was named Project Director for the nation’s first Educational Park at Co-op City in the Bronx. Years later—miracle to neurosurgeons like Dr. Thomas Lansen; hero to a select group of people like herself who've survived brain aneurisms, she planned her return to school at 70—law school. Taking her LSATs at 72, she set her sights on child advocacy.
We were out for a drive, going nowhere in particular, when I asked: “How would you tell the story of your life?” Closing her eyes, lifting her face to the sun, she thought for a moment; then smiled. “If I were to write an autobiography,” she mused, “I would begin with the words Daddy uttered when I was born: ‘No one to wear my shirts.’” Grandpa would wait another twenty-five years for someone to wear his shirts—his grandson.
And, how would Mom begin the story of Grandpa’s life?
“He was a great teller of stories,” said Mom, “stories about his home as a child; about coming to America. We had a ritual. After Sunday School he would buy some peanuts, roast them, and place them in a big cup in front of him. When they were shelled into that cup, we would sit down and eat peanuts and Daddy would read us the New York Times. He would read a passage and tell us, ‘Now this is what they said, but the politicians really mean this....’ He would read another part and say, ‘Now you have to read between the lines. What do you think about this part?’ We’d listen to him tell us what was going on all over the world. And, to this day, the only nuts I like are peanuts!” Mom and her big sisters were 6, 5, and 3 when Grandpa began the ritual he’d continue into their early teens.
In tribute to them both, this birthday present from our family to yours: Mom’s recipe for “Daddy’s Cod Fish Stew.” Happy Birthdays to us all!
In my second SUNY New Paltz Distinguished Speaker Lecture appearance, fellow alum Ilyasah Shabazz and I shared the stage this week. Many thanks to President Donald P. Christian for bringing us together. My husband, Max Roach, and her father, Malcolm X, were friends. When we were living in Amherst, Massachusetts and her mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, was commuting to UMASS for her doctorate, Max introduced Betty and me. But, Ilyasah and I had never met as fellow writers.
OMG, what a time we had getting to know each other and sharing our joy with an eager audience. In an event billed as an "intergenerational Fireside Chat," we riffed on the theme, “To Be or Not To Be,” and our subplot: What does it mean to be oneself in times of challenge and change? Our full chat with audience participation airs on the show in a few weeks. Here's a clip.
And, if you're in or near Pasadena . . .
I’ll be keynoting the Los Angeles County Women’s Leadership Conference on November 21st. Inspired by California’s former First Lady, Maria Shriver, since 2010, the Women’s Leadership Conference—an LA County Public Works initiative—has not only changed LA’s public sector (with its more than 4,000 employees), but changed the lives of people throughout the county. This year’s theme: Making HERstory.
On the Show
As "we the people" head to the polls, watch the impeachment inquiry unfold, and as the 2020 campaign revs up, we take a look at American democracy: its realities, myths, setbacks, and aspirations.
November 2: George Friday, Co-Convener, Move to Amend.org. When in the course of human events, #WeThePeople--in order to form a more perfect union--move to amend the Constitution of the United States. Proposed: the 28th Amendment.
November 9: Capturing the Flag. The truth about current-day voter suppression with guests: Laverne Berry, activist attorney and Anne De Mare, filmmaker—co-producers of Capturing the Flag—a documentary about how the big idea of American democracy can be defended by small acts of individual citizens. As Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has said of the film: “[It] is called Capturing the Flag—literally. That’s what you have here. You do not have people winning. You have people cheating; which also is a sign of our power if we can organize. Because people do not cheat you if they can beat you in a straight up fight.”
November 16, 23, and 30: To be announced.
This month’s featured podcast: my interview with Ritchie Torres, NYC Councilman and public housing crusader. Click here for a clip and the full show..
The Janus Adams Show airs and streams live Saturdays at 4:00 pm ET on public radio's WJFF. For more information about my shows and guests, visit JanusAdams.com. Subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud.
If you missed parts of ABOUT THE LATTER END OF AUGUST, here’s a link to the full 30-day journey from History to Healing and Hope.
Hold fast to your dreams, everyone! Thanks for following and sharing the newsletter.
*Harambee, a Ki-Swahili chant, means "let's all pull together!"
Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, historian, keynote speaker, Dr. Janus Adams is publisher of BackPaxKids.com and host of public radio’s
“The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.