20th Century, African American, Art, History, Minnesota

Gordon Parks’ Career Begins

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1938
Gordon Parks had moved to St. Paul as a teenager and struggled through the depression working at odd jobs. One day he buys a camera in a pawn shop and in a matter of weeks has his first show at Eastman Kodak in Minneapolis. Thus begins a long, distinguished career as a photographer, composer, novelist, and filmmaker.

Ears that hear and eyes that see-the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12

Gordon was born dead, or so the doctor thought, on November 30,1912 wrapped in a cloth and set aside. An observer had an idea to put the child in a tub of ice water, and gently rub ice over his body. Surprisingly, this homespun method worked, and he was revived! **

Parks was born the last child of fifteen to Andrew Jackson Parks and Sarah Ross. He worked on the family farm in Fort Scott, Kansas, and held a lifetime attachment to the land. Throughout his youth, he wrestled with the dichotomy of a place that was legally free, yet socially informed by the south. He went to a segregated school, and was discouraged from applying to college by his high school advisor because blacks “were not college material.” ** Sadly, Parks did not finish high school, but it didn’t stop his momentum.

About 1927, his mother died, and he was sent to live with his older sister in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though she cared for him, Parks constantly fought with her husband, and eventually he was turned out of their home at age fifteen. He struggled with homelessness and poverty in the frigid winters, but survived by doing odd jobs working as a: porter, snow shoveler, busboy, semi-pro basketball player, and piano player for a brothel.**

Eventually, his life stabilized by getting steady work as a server on a train. This job had the fringe benefit of exposing him to different people, cultures, and opportunities. Inspired by the art exhibits of Chicago, he bought his first camera, a Voightlander Brilliant, from a pawn shop and began taking pictures.

Mr. Parks recounted that day saying: “Eastman Kodak developed the first roll of film…. and when I went for the prints, one of the clerks complimented me on my first efforts. ‘Keep it up and we’ll give you a show.’ I didn’t take him seriously and he realized it. ‘I mean it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a good eye.’” ** He continued shooting, and they did give him the show as promised.

Spurred on by this success, Gordon went to the finest women’s clothing store in Saint Paul, Frank Murphy Fashions, and sought to demonstrate his skills in fashion photography. Though he double-exposed his first roll of film, the one photo that turned out was so elegant that they were willing to repeat the process.*** This began his acceptance in the world of fashion photography.
The success of his Murphy fashion shoots caught the eye of Marva Louis, the bride of the famed boxer Joe Louis. She inspired the Parks’ to consider moving to Chicago as there would be more fashion work for Gordon there. He ended up taking portraits of society women, but it opened the next door for them to move to Washington D.C.**ibid

In a strange turn of events, he was hired by the Farm Security Administration on the weight of an exhibition of his pictures of life on the life of city folks from Chicago’s South Side. Under the tutelage of Roy Stryker, he learned to tell stories in pictures that words could not convey. It was in this era that his most famous photo was born.**ibid

His first assignment given by Stryker was to buy and overcoat, get something to eat, and to catch a matinee. Thinking he had won the lottery, he went shopping, but the staff wouldn’t fit a black man. Next, he went to grab some lunch, but the diner refused to serve him unless he came to the back alley. He was shooed away from the theatre.

The coin dropped for himas he thought; “I can show the public what citizenship feels like as minority in the America of the 1940’s.” He later struck up a conversation with Eva Watson, an African-American janitor in his building the same day. She was willing to have her picture taken by Parks in the lobby of the FSA building, and “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” was born.**ibid

Unknown

So here I am today, Lord, to watch and pray with You about Gordon Parks and his accomplishments in the arts. Let me reflect on how You are El Roi; the Strong One who Sees. You observe the events of time concurrently; past, present, and future. You see our externals, and our innermost thoughts and motivations.

I recall the promptings of the apostle Paul to the early church in Ephesus to use their hearts in “seeing”. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…” Ephesians 1:18 NIV**** I don’t know much about the spiritual life of Mr. Parks, but it is clear that You have downloaded this gift into him.

We give You thanks for this dualistic vision of Gordon Parks; to see people, places, and things in the light of eternity. We thank You that he instinctively saw value and meaning and dignity in the lives of those to whom society was blind. In his own way, he saw through the eyes of Christ.

Will You bless the inheritance given to Minnesota and the United States through the camera lens of Gordon Parks? Will You bless his figurative and literal children to see with the eyes of their hearts? Will You make us soft and receptive to these images of pain, beauty, unrest, and exaltation?

Forgive us, sweet Holy Spirit, we are flooded with images each day through our vices and devices, but we are still thirsty for one glance that inspires. Our conscience has cataracts and we don’t acknowledge the pure, the real, the noble, or Your pure light beaming into our eyes radiating from the faces of our neighbor. Help us, like Mr. Parks, to see because we have truly listened to the human actors in the drama of each day!

Come and heal our blindness! Come and let us hear! Open the eyes of our hearts in Minnesota so we can perceive the messages You are constantly sending to us through others. Open the apertures of our consciences so that we can also see inwardly. Add to our personal and cultural memory; click the shutter so we remember the moments when catch a glimpse of the Immortal and Invisible!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** You Tube. “Half Past Autumn; The Life and Works of Gordon Parks”. Published by On the Road. February 8, 2017. Producer Craig Rice. Writer Lou Rother. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzeuL0d5Z_s
*** This photo can be viewed at the current website of Frank Murphy Fashions. http://www.frankmurphyfashions.com/about/history/
**** https://biblehub.com/ephesians/1-18.htm

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20th Century, Culture, Economics, History, Minnesota, Politics, Uncategorized

Petersen Becomes Governor

Unknown

Aug 19, 1936
Hjalmar Petersen takes office as the state’s 23rd governor upon the death of Governor Floyd B. Olson. Following his short stint as governor, Petersen tries and fails four times to regain the office.*

“Hjalmer Petersen, the twenty-third governor of Minnesota, was born in Eskildstrup, Denmark on January 2, 1890. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Denmark and Minnesota. At fourteen years old, he left school and went to work in the newspaper business, eventually founding the Askov American in 1914, a newspaper he owned the rest of his life. Petersen first entered politics as the clerk and then mayor of Askov. He also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1930 to 1934, and was the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1934 to 1936. On August 22, 1936, Governor Floyd B. Olson died in office, and Petersen, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, the federal unemployment insurance law was initiated; several labor disputes were dealt with; and significant judicial appointments were approved. After serving 134 days as governor, Petersen left office on January 2, 1936. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a member of the State Railroad and Warehouse Commission, a position he held until 1966. He also made several unsuccessful bids for the governor’s office, as well as a 1958 run for the U.S. Senate. Governor Hjalmar Petersen passed away on March 29, 1968 in Columbus, Ohio. Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.”**

What did Governor Petersen’s keystone legislation of unemployment look like in his era? Minnesotans who were discharged through no fault of their own were to receive $15 a week for up to 16 weeks as of May 1,1938.*** See the table below to compare and contrast what this amount meant to a worker back at its commencement.****

inflation-and-actual-prices

Shall we pray? Lord, we give You thanks for being the Governor of All, for being our shield and very great reward! We agree with Your covenant promises in Genesis 15 to Abraham and his children that Your favor is greater than the sum of all property, labor, and accomplishments. We remember and bless Your eternal words, and Your heart of unmerited goodness to all who believe!

Will You forgive us our broken trust in Your provision both in Governor Petersen’s era, and in the present? We have accepted wealth from the state that it does not create or own, but extracted from our neighbors. We have accepted the premise that our present condition of dysfunction becomes the problem of our functional neighbors. Will You forgive us this faulty logic and co-dependent relationship(s)?

What if the state had made unemployment insurance voluntary instead of mandatory? We can see at least three immediate benefits immediately from this premise. First, it would allow contributors to share their wealth freely with a true spirit of giving instead of the spirit of extortion through forced charity collected by the state. Secondly, it would remove politicians from the direct relationship between those with extra and those in need. Maybe this would remove a sense of entitlement of guaranteed benefits, and enable a sense of gratitude and trust towards givers from receivers because they would have no expectations?
Third, it would displace politicians’ from the false narrative that they were the givers of wealth, and undercut the credit they have taken for the gifts of others.
Will You forgive us for trusting in the politicians of Minnesota, and the provisions forced on our neighbor by the co-dependent law of unemployment insurance? We have assumed a co-dependent relationship between giver and receiver and state. Will You help us revisit these issues and remove the expectations, dependency, shame, and manipulation from helping each other? Will You remove what is false and create real relationship, real opportunity to give from the heart, and real gratitude? Will You fulfill the good intentions and desires of Hjalmer Petersen on Your terms, and show us a better, more honest way to love our unemployed neighbor?

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.nga.org/governor/hjalmar-petersen/
*** https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v48n10/v48n10p22.pdf
**** http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-1938-to-2015-inflation-history-cost-of-goods-inflation/

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20th Century, football, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Champion Gophers Football

1935ishwithTrophyCase.gif

MVictors.com

1932 to 1941
Coach Bernie Bierman’s Golden Gophers are the scourge of college football over the next nine years. They play three and a half seasons without a loss, and win five national championships and six Big Ten titles.
In 1934 alone, Bierman’s single-wing brand of power football produces both Big Ten and national championships. Minnesota outscores its opponents 270 points to 38 over the eight-game season.*

Founded in 1882, the program is one of the oldest in college football. Minnesota has been a member of the Big Ten Conference since its inception in 1896 as the Western Conference. The Golden Gophers claim seven national championships: 1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, and 1960. “GOPHERSPORTS.COM  :: University of Minnesota Official Athletic Site”. http://www.gophersports.com. **

“Base your play on the standards most likely to defeat champions.”
-Bernie Bierman
former Coach University of Minnesota Football ***

So to recap the facts before prayer, Coach Bierman led his teams to national championships five times in ten years? Phenomenal! In 136 years of Gopher football, all but two championship teams were coached by this man!

Even as one more bent towards the arts more than sports, I can see Your imprint in the life of Coach Bierman. I applaud with You, Champion of Champions, the work of this man’s life here in Minnesota! I applaud with You his authority and leadership of young men to pull together and create a great team.

Will You bless this heritage of leadership and discipline fostered by Coach Bierman? Will You bless him, his ancestors, and all who figuratively follow in his footsteps? Will You bless the University of Minnesota through its football program, and the initiative of its players? Will You make it a place where students can unashamedly give their very best?

Lord, will You forgive where the Church has discounted the value of football and diminished its potential in building character and leadership? Will You forgive all who profit from college sports insofar as their actions corrode stellar temperament with temptations of the base appeals of celebrity? Will You forgive the excesses of our universities in exalting the business of football over the integrity of student scholarship and sportsmanship?

We ask Your blessing on the inspiration and leadership of young men in the state of Minnesota. If You wish to create this heritage through the sport of football, let it be so! We ask Your blessing for our present and future generations of young men to learn the important lessons of teamwork so easily taught in football. May they catch a glimpse of Your Spirit as portrayed through the coaching of Bernie Bierman, and pay it forward. Amen!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
-Apostle Paul****
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_football
*** http://treasuredmap.blogspot.com/2009/10/308.html
**** http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/9-24.htm

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