MOTHER FOUND AT THE HENRY FORD

Ken Car Mother FoundYou all know the slogan. All Michigander’s do: “You haven’t lived until you…” followed by some Michigan international destination like “Greenfield Village”. It was always easy to gauge how well you know the state by these monikers. When they changed the name of Greenfield Village to “The Henry Ford,” I was totally lost. But now, for a very personal reason, I’m getting found again.

You see, I’m the mother of seven children. They are all equally precious to me. Every once in a while, one of my children will do something publically noted that gives me permission to boast a bit about their contribution to the world. This time, the evidence can be found at Greenfield Village… Oops, excuse me, I mean, The Henry Ford.

My oldest son, Ken, is a mechanical engineer. He grew up the kind of kid who couldn’t keep his hands out from under the hood. I think his first word was ‘car’ which soon grew into ‘car racing’. Currently, Ken is Vice-President of an Ann-Arbor company that makes prototypes and tests parts for transportation and motorsports.

A few years ago, Ken joined a team competing for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million competition aimed at advancing technology for more fuel-efficient vehicles. More than 111 teams from all over the world worked to build a car that achieved 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent.

Ken’s company developed the engine for Edison2, winner of the Mainstream class of the Automotive X-PRIZE with its 100+ MPG car of the future – Very Light Car. This car is on permanent display in the Henry Ford Museum Automotive Exhibit at (Yes, I’ve got it now) The Henry Ford.  Take a look next time you visit: Edison2 – the Very Light Car.

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VIOLA LIUZZO LOVED HER CHILDREN ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR A BETTER WORLD

On Sunday, April 12th, Mike and I had the honor and the privilege of meeting the children of civil rights martyr, Viola Liuzzo. Viola’s tragic death in Selma, Alabama in 1965 was the event that brought me into the civil rights movement.  In many ways, Viola was like me, a local white woman raised Catholic, with five small children. She was an empathic woman with a big heart and when the call went out to support those brutally assaulted as they marched for voting rights, Viola headed to Alabama

On March 25th, as Viola was shuttling marchers back to Selma, she was murdered on the highway by members of the Ku Klux Klan. In the car, was an FBI informant who later bragged about the killing. The FBI went on to smear Viola’s name and attempt to destroy her family.  Somehow, I felt a kinship with Viola and I understood why she was compelled to go to Selma. In a sense, that week in 1965, I stepped into the movement to take her place.

Mike Viola Liuzzo's children

Mike with Viola Liuzzo’s children.

This month, in Detroit, Viola’s family was given a hero’s welcome on the 50th anniversary of her death. She was posthumously awarded a degree at Wayne State University where she was a student. Among the many events in her honor, was a Morris Dees lecture at Wayne State Law School, a tribute at Macomb Community College, and a celebration of her life at the Unitarian Church on Wayne State’s Campus. A park near her home in Northwest Detroit was re-dedicated in her honor.

Mike and I are grateful for the opportunity to converse with four of her children. It has been a difficult road for them as they struggled to vindicate their mother’s image from slander by the FBI. “She prepared us,” their daughter Mary told us. “It was the way she raised us.” “Thank you, Mom. You loved us enough to fight for a better world.”

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Personal Histories in the Struggle for Justice.

A MOTHER’S BATTLE AGAINST INJUSTICE

Against the Tide Books is dedicated to publication of historical narratives that others can learn from. That is the goal of my new book. The work is directed at young mothers of social conscience, seeking to give them confidence and change the way they think about their role in the broader world that their children will inherit.

In the spring of 1967, I moved my family from the suburbs into the city to expose my children to a real world environment and teach them about social responsibility. We arrived just a few weeks before the 1967 civil disturbance and we became deeply involved in the movement for black self-determination that followed.

By 1969, I was working with Michael Hamlin, a leader in the movement for black workers power. Mike and I developed an idea for a book club that would bring blacksJoann CCC and whites together in a multiracial educational forum geared to developing the support of whites for the black struggle. Three hundred and fifty people showed up for the first meeting.

My oldest son, Ken, recently came up with this photo of the Control, Conflict and Change book club, April 1971, at Central Methodist Church in Downtown Detroit.

My new book is finished. Watch for my story of these turbulent and rewarding years.   Between Two Worlds: A Mother’s Battle Against Injustice by Joann Castle. Follow my journey as I work to get the book published.

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TRANSITIONS: INTO SPRING WITH EMERSON AND FRIENDS

BlossomsA friend who follows my blog recently advised me: “It’s time for you to transition.”

It is true. I have been solely fixed on promoting Mike’s book as mine sat safely in the wings.

As Spring waits reluctantly around the corner, I have become impatient. I accept that it is time to transition from solitude to growth and take a shot at blooming. It’s a big step. I still felt the need for a little push. Then…

This morning in meditation at my yoga class, Emerson, joined the chorus against my reluctance to let it go:

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s time to leap. Watch for updates on my book:

Between Two Worlds; A Mother’s Battle Against Injustice by Joann Castle.  Click “Follow” on this website and join my journey.

BUILDING COALITIONS TO PROMOTE CIVIL RIGHTS

Those of us who were fortunate enough to live through the challenging andfeather-blue inspiring times of the 1960s & 1970s often ask ourselves, where are the young today? Who will take our place as the gains we made are being eroded?

We have appealed to the young to pick up the banner, make the battle their own and carry us to a brighter future. Yet as we gather to speak of the future of this country, we often look around us at the generation represented in the room and ask ourselves, where are the young today?

This past weekend, I met a young woman, mother of three, who speaks to the struggle where it is today. She is Linda Sarsour, racial justice and civil rights activist, a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Brooklyn.

Linda was the keynote speaker at the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Annual Dinner, held at Marygrove College on Sunday. She is Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and Senior Strategist for a recently launched national campaign, Take on Hate. Linda is distinguished in many areas including receiving the “Champion of Change” award by the White House, and the New York City Council’s Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Award.

Linda spoke of young people, unity of purpose and continuity with those who have blazed the path and continue to fight the battle against injustice. As a solution, she speaks of: Muslim solidarity with the Black Liberation struggle; coalitions of black, brown, Chicano, Indian, and Arabs against police brutality; the disproportionate number of young men of color in prison; and racial profiling. These practices affect all minority communities.

“If we are not angry,” Linda told the audience, “we need to question our commitment to justice.” “And by justice, I don’t mean ‘just us’. There is a solution to the ills of this country. This is a struggle for all of us together. No one is safe when one group is singled out.”

Those of our generation, are ready to pass the baton.

Against the Tide Books is focused on promoting historical narratives that others can learn from. We focus on books that analyze lessons from the past that significantly apply to our future. Please visit us at: www. Againstthetidebooks.com/books/ or check us out on Facebook. To join us on our journey, press “follow” on this website.

 

BURTON THEATRE VENUE PROMOTES COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

Mike and I recently attended a showing of the movie, “Brothers on the Line” at Cinema Detroit an independent film theatre in Detroit’s midtown district, and the original site of the Burton Theatre whose name still stands at the driveway entrance. Mike was invited to participate in a panel discussion of the film.

“Brothers on the Line” is a well-constructed documentary covering the story of the Reuther brothers and the making of the U.A.W. Written and directed by Sasha Reuther, grandson of Walter Reuther, this film stands both as a fitting memorial about the dedication of the Reuther family to a more just society as well as IMG_5219an excellent educational tool for our younger generation.

The panel was introduced by Tony Paris, lead lawyer at the Maurice Sugar Law Center, and included Graham Cassano, author, professor, and film critic from Oakland University; Steve Babson, author, labor educator, and union activist who assisted with production of the film; and Mike Hamlin, co-founder of the Inner-City Voice newspaper and one of the leaders of DRUM and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, who spawned a black workers movement in Detroit in the late 1960s.

We should support Detroit’s independent film theatres that offer alternative films and venues for interactive community discussion. Our appreciation goes out to Paula and Tim Gathiet who are keeping the Burton Theatre tradition alive. Check them out at: www.cinemadetroit.com.

Mike’s book. A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Workers Black Power in Detroit is a book for labor activists, students and educators, community organizers and lovers of black history. Order your copy now on this website. Also available on Amazon.com.

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POETRY, ART, AND BLACK POWER

Mike Hamlin, author of A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Black Workers Power in Detroit, spoke on a frigid February evening at Detroit’s Main Public Library. The mix of Mike’s Mike Library Podium2comments, the music and the poetry transformed the cold outside into a very heart-warming and inspiring event.  Some of the students who were there said that learning about Mike’s life and political work is an encouragement to them to press on with their social justice activism.

We are grateful to the amazing artists who joined us. Gloria House read poetry from Mike’s book, Rockeith Jackson shared his inspiring artwork, and the Library’s technical staff beautifully crafted our attempt at a multimedia presentation. Thank you everyone for your support.

Get your copy of Mike’s book now on this website. Click ‘follow’ here and join us on our journey.

Order now:  A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Black Workers Power in Detroit                                                       by Michael Hamlin with Michelle Gibbs.

Also available at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or locally at: SOURCE Booksellers in Midtown Detroit.