PSU Black Studies professor reflects on MLK’s legacy

BY SHIRLEY JACKSON
FACULTY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

This marks the 20th year that all U.S. states recognized the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. 

The idea of the MLK or King holiday, as it is referred to be many, started with Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow. After her husband’s assassination in April 1968, Coretta wanted to find a way to honor his memory and the work he was doing. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta was the result. 

Coretta continued to work diligently to have King’s birthday recognized as a holiday.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that recognized King’s birthday as a national holiday. Some states began celebrating King’s birthday in the mid-1980s, a few southern states celebrated it along with the birthday of Civil War Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, but it took until 1990 for all states to observe the King holiday.

King’s birthday gives us the opportunity to remember the things that he did in his lifetime and spurs us to continue this work. 

His legacy includes the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the many speeches and marches he gave, and his writings such as his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which was a response to white religious leaders who warned him against embarking upon his nonviolent activities. 

In this letter, King vocalized the importance of his actions, writing, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” King’s statement makes clear that while things look as though they will not change, with time, they will — and not because we are loud or quiet, riotous or righteous, but because we are sound and right. The key is understanding that there are different ways of going about it and some may be quick, and some may be slower than others.  

“Make it a day on, instead of a day off,”
by engaging in service activities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, King moved to other issues such as employment, housing, and opposition to the Vietnam War. 

His assassination at the age of 39 did not end the work he set out to do. 

As we celebrate his birthday, many opt to “Make it a day on, instead of a day off,” by engaging in service activities in their communities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day. 

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Shirley A. Jackson, Portland State University Professor,
PSU Black Studies Department

Coming Back Home

By: Ragan Love

I moved away from Colorado for the first time in September. I talk to my family pretty often, so I  didn’t think it would be that hard to adjust to home life when I went back for the holidays. It was actually more difficult than I expected. 

I come from a family of three: my dad, my little brother and me. When high school ended, I started working full time at a restaurant and came home to clean and cook dinner for my family. This became the norm for my family, and when I left for school in September, they didn’t realize how much they depended on me. When I talked to them after the first month, they hadn’t eaten  a home-cooked meal, checked the mail, or vacuumed the living room. It got to the point where the mailman actually put a box on the porch filled with all the mail. This is when it really hit all three of us life had changed. I began to jokingly text them reminders to do their chores, and by November, they were actually doing them.

When I got home after the fall quarter I felt like I was a guest in my own house. All of my old tasks now belonged to my brother or dad. If I wanted to clean anything my father would stop me because he didn’t want me having to clean where I wasn’t living anymore. When I wanted to cook dinner, my dad told me that he already had a plan for our dinner. One moment that really stuck out to me is my second night home when we were planning to have ramen for dinner. I came into the kitchen to help but my dad and brother had everything covered; there was nothing for me to do. That was the first time that I hadn’t helped with our family dinner, and it made me feel like a stranger.

I was warned how different it would be coming home for the first time after starting college, but I didn’t expect that I would feel like my family didn’t need me anymore. I thought that this is how my dad would feel, not me. It wasn’t all negative. I had moments that made me happy to be back home. I am pretty close to my little brother and during break he was constantly asking for help on college applications and told me how he was happy that I was home. We got to chill out and talk about everything that’s been happening without one of us cutting out on FaceTime.

I think I shouldn’t have expected my household to be the same after leaving for four months. It wasn’t just hard for me. My brother and dad also had to adjust to my absence. My brother is heading off to school in the fall, and our family dynamic will change again once we are both out of the house. Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I now view this transition as a chance for all three of us to grow and be our own people.

5 Portland State year-end highlights

As 2019 draws to a close, we look back at 5 ways Portland State University is making a difference in the lives of our students and region.

1.

PSU launched a campus-wide effort to help students graduate by using data to spot signs of trouble and intervening quickly, as well as opened a new advising center for transfer students.


2.

PSU renovated Fariborz Maseeh Hall and opened the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, bringing art and opportunity to all.


3.

PSU has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the best institution in Oregon and the Northwest region for social mobility.


4.

PSU marked a record year for research, with recent grants of over 25 million and overall research funding up 10 percent.


5.

PSU poured $1.5 billion into Oregon’s economy.


And now … bring on 2020!

Social Media Contributor

What are the odds of a White Christmas in Portland? Not great

SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR

It’s that most wonderful time of year when we ask ourselves: Will there be snow?

The odds of a “white Christmas” in Portland are … well, not great. Only about 1 percent, as a matter of fact.

Only two years stand out as having true white Christmases in Portland in recent years: 2008 and 2017. If you use the Portland Airport records as a guide, which go back to the late 1930s, there have been a few other years with small amounts of snow, but nothing really accumulating.

If you look further back, there were a couple more minor white Christmases earlier in the 20th century and late 19th century. Using that longer record, the chance of a white Christmas is about … 3 percent.

But don’t get too excited. The forecast for the Christmas right now calls for warmer than average temperatures, which doesn’t support the possibility of snow on Dec. 25.

However, weather is very variable, so we can’t rule it out until the day gets closer.

— Paul Loikith, director of Portland State’s Climate Science Lab

Picture of self with cane in restroom before medical procedure

Helpful Holiday Hints

by AJ Earl

I think it’s important to have perspective.

For example, I think that we should all take a moment to think about the upcoming holiday break, and whether you celebrate or don’t celebrate the myriad holidays, we are all about to get some well-deserved time off from the books and pdfs, the proofs and the theories, the, well, everything.

I know there are some exceptions, but they, too, deserve some relaxation, and thanks to the very generous calendar, they will also get some time off.

To that end, here are my tips for making your holiday break a really great one:

Read anything that’s outside your academic field: I don’t care if it’s the instructions on the back of a gingerbread house kit, give your brain some time to absorb and integrate your field-specific readings. How many books can you read, anyway? Try this test to find out the possibilities: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/570929/how-many-books-to-read-year-test

Try a new recipe a week: Forget the 30 cookies in 30 days challenge, or anything that requires you to constantly try new things. That’s stressful! This holiday, try 3 or 4 different recipes and spend a week trying to perfect it. Knowing how to make 11 kinds of chocolate chip cookies is great, but why not learn how to cook the perfect Bûche de Noël? https://www.iletaitunefoislapatisserie.com/2016/12/buche-noel-roulee-chocolat-facile-rapide.html

Pamper your pets: If you have any kind of pet, take some time to give them a “me day,” where you treat them with good food, take glamour shots of them, and generally make sure they get the attention they need after a term of you focusing on schoolwork. If you don’t have a pet, the Oregon Humane Society is always looking for volunteers!

Learn your city: Staying in Portland for winter break? Why not hop on a Trimet bus or MAX and ride until you find something interesting? This kind of in-town tourism is helpful, it keeps you busy, and it’s low stress. Have you seen the Paul Bunyan statue?

If anything, this holiday break should provide you with the needed rest you’ve earned from this fall term. If you don’t do anything like the above suggestions, I hope at the very least you can take a seat, relax, and drink a nice cup of cocoa or whatever your favored winter drink is.

A Love for Classical Music

I have been playing classical flute repertoire for seven years, but it wasn’t until recently that I acquired a love for listening to the genre. Here are some of my favorite pieces that I hope will open up your mind to classical music. 

Nicole Chamberlain– Crunchy

When introducing others to classical music, I always start off with a contemporary artist because it is more exciting. Nicole Chamberlain is a 21st Century artist who explores extended techniques on the flute. Extended techniques are simply funky sounds on an instrument. This piece asks the player to beatbox throughout by saying the words, “za’s, ka’s, ta’s” into the flute. This is part of a suite that Chamberlain called “Smorgasbord,” and it includes four other movements that also bring the piccolo into play. 

Samuel Barber– Canzone for flute

My flute professor recently introduced me to this piece, and it is now one of my favorites. Barber is a 20th Century American composer and wrote many different pieces for choir, violin, and strings. This particular piece is slow and very lyrical. As a performer, it’s a fun piece because it gives me room for expression and expanded throughout the flute’s register. One of my favorite parts about playing the flute is how rich the low register can be and this piece shows off that part of the instrument. 

Bach– Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

This is probably the most famous cello song and is my cello piece, but I absolutely love this cover by the piano guys. They arranged this solo piece to be played by seven cellos. This is the biggest part of the Suite and is filled with arpeggiated chords. Bach is one of the iconic composers, so much that his birth and death year are the start and end of the Baroque era. Interestingly, he died from complications of eye surgery at 65. 

Claude Debussy– Clair De Lune

Every time I hear this piece I begin to tear up!  Clair De Lune is French for “light of the moon,” and I first played an arrangement of it for one of my high school marching band shows. Debussy wrote this piece in 1890 when he was only 28 years old, but it wasn’t published for another 15 years. This is a very simple piano piece and is very straightforward to play. 

An Uncertain Senior

By Maya Young

Starting at PSU, I knew that I wanted to delve into communications studies but had no idea what that truly meant. My first year, I took an intercultural communications course and was immediately drawn in by the depth in subject matter that we covered. From this course, I found that I was deeply interested in the influence of cultural and societal effects on interpersonal communication. My interest has only grown as I have found myself more invested in communication theory and research.

Now, as a senior, I am identifying strong skill sets within myself that do not completely correlate with one specific job type. Beginning my job search for post-graduation has been a daunting task as I am met with a plethora of different fields to go into and little knowledge of my professional passions outside of academia. PSU has afforded me numerous opportunities, from networking with communications graduates, working as a learning assistant for a core course, and even beginning a position as a Business Minor Marketing Assistant. But despite all of these experiences, I remain overwhelmed by what my professional life will be after I graduate. 

My advice? Make the most of the opportunities and resources offered at PSU. From professors to advisers, and from internships to on-campus jobs and extracurriculars, there are numerous ways to test the waters and uncover your passion. Although I remain uncertain, I know that these experiences are invaluable and will eventually lead me to do what I love and hopefully make a difference.