Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades involves the most-successful Jeopardy! contestants ever. The most bone-crushingly excellent trivia masters living in our humble nation.
So: Final Jeopardy! Category: Supreme Court Decisions. Clue: “On Dec. 20, 1956 the Court’s ruling on Browder v. Gayle went into effect, bringing an end to this 381-day event.”
Now, you and I immediately think: Okay, Browder v. Gayle doesn’t mean much to me… But: 381-day event concluding in December, 1956? Easy. What is the Montgomery Bus Boycott?
Admittedly, the clue could have read, ‘The event that made Rosa Parks famous.’ Then all three of the blistering geniuses probably would have written the correct response. But, as it was, none of them got it! Three of the most mind-like-a-steel-trap people in America, and none of them wrote down the correct response!
I was beside myself. We Americans may be smart and use our iPhones dextrously. But we do not know any real history. We do not know the details that make it interesting.
For over a year, they walked, carpooled, hitched to work. Through all weathers. For over a year, Dr. King hung tight, insisting with an iron will that his people continue to find a way other than the bus–through a year’s worth of dark, doubtful nights, with the burden of all their hardships laying upon him.
How can the smartest people in our country not know these crucial details? The Montgomery Bus Boycott easily could have been broken–it appeared to be broken multiple times–and then where would be be? What would have become of ‘the Movement?’ How can we not know the crucial details of our proudest, most genuinely interesting moments?
…In honor of the beginning of the Redskins season, I read Francis Parkman’s book about his time with the Ogillallah Sioux. (Click HERE to read Herman Melville’s review of the book.)
Parkman wanted to grow up to write the history of the American colonists’ interactions with the natives. So, at 23, he took it upon himself to live in a wandering Dahcotah village for the summer of 1846. (Using Parkman’s spellings for the Indian words here.)
The book bears the confusing title The Oregon Trail–which it is not about. But Parkman can write like nobody’s business. He offers an intimate portrayal of his companions. Not exactly sympathetic. But evocative, realistic, and utterly gripping.
These particular prairie Redskins adorned themselves with the body parts of their slain enemies. To attain manhood meant taking someone’s scalp. The warriors treated their multiple squaws like domestic slaves, prone to divorce them on any pretext whatever. In other words, they were tough as hell. And had a worldview somewhat like ISIS.
God forbid that I would ever cheer for a team called the “Washington N***ers.” But the idea that ‘Redskins’ carries similar connotations–that idea cannot withstand any scrutiny of the actual facts of history. The history of the word ‘Redskin’ is completely different. And, these days, the term has no common usage whatsoever.
Except to refer to the most lovable sports franchise in the history of the world!