My Humble Career

Nov 14, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

One of the perks of jury duty today was catching up on reading magazines. I enjoyed the Oct. 31 issue of the Christian Science Monitor. Among the interesting articles was one about Italians from Africa standing up for their rights as Black Italians; and another was about the quilombo, people in Brazil who are descendants of runaway black slaves. They were included in the census for the first time in 132 years and Brazil has 6,000 quilombo communities. I had enough time to finish the issue from Oct. 24 and was glad I did, particularly for Annie Proulx’s book about wetlands, Fen, Bog & Swamp.

After giving my “Mourning in the Morning” zoom talk Saturday from an office in the Local History Division at Rochester Public Library, I grumbled about going back for a birthday party in the afternoon. I’m so glad I did. Joan Howard Coles coordinated the event in honor of her late father, Howard W. Coles, with Rochester City Historian, Christine Ridarsky. It was so much fun to run into co-workers at the Gannett Papers from thirty years ago and listen to entertaining and inspiring audio clips and speeches. Niner Davis, the first winner of the Howard W. Coles Breaking Barriers Award, gave a memorable glimpse into her life and goals. It was also an eye-opener afterwards to read over the City Directory of Negro Business and Progress 1939-1940, compiled by Mr. Coles, who maintained Frederick Douglass’s legacy and promoted the black community for over 60 years.

Last but not least, I finished Strawberry Girl, the 1945 Newbery Award book by Lois Lenski. It was a surprisingly honest look at backwoods people in Florida and the conflict between two neighboring families. Well done.

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