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Ironton woman proud of personal African American, political collections | News

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IRONTON — Though Dawnita Redd lives by herself, she is never truly alone; she has a lifetime of collected African American and political souvenirs to keep her company.

At 69 years old, Redd is retired and living in rural Ironton, having previously spent several years serving as a social worker at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. She spent her early years in Huntington, where her father became the first Black police officer to retire from the Huntington Police Department.

In her little single-story home, Redd maintains a massive collection of various items, which she has been building up ever since she was a child. These collections are all unique, but share similar themes.

One such collection is Redd’s massive room full of Barbie dolls. Still preserved in their boxes, each wall of the room is stacked with dolls, their collective height reaching near the ceiling. The vast majority of these dolls are African American or dark-skinned, and they vary widely in age; some are as old as the first line of Barbie dolls ever produced, while others were recently made. One particular doll had even come all the way from Africa.

Redd has no particular favorite of these collections, though she does cherish some in particular. One doll she pointed out had a black dress with white polka-dots, which she said reminded her of her mother. Another was a trio of black Barbies in military dress uniforms, including the Navy, Air Force and Army.

“I love showing those ones to people,” said Redd. “I feel like they can relate to them, especially if they’ve served our country in the Army.”

Redd first began the collection back when she was a child, when she would often see Barbie dolls in the windows of stores in Huntington. Though she desperately wanted a doll, her family couldn’t afford one at the time. A close friend ended up giving her her first as a gift.

Another one of Redd’s collections is a homemade trio of political pin-sheets, primarily based around former President Barack Obama’s political career. Numbering at over a hundred and organized by age and event, the pins are sectioned off onto sheets of colored cloth; a red sheet, a white sheet and a blue sheet. The combined patriotic display was so large that it couldn’t entirely fit side-by-side on Redd’s living room floor.

Not wishing for her work to simply remain in her home, Redd hopes to soon have the combined pin display donated to the Obama Presidential Center Museum.

“By this point, if you lay ’em all out, you’ve got his complete story,” Redd said.

Redd has held a particular interest in politics for some time. She has a collection of signed autographs from every currently living U.S. president and vice president, save President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Alongside them, she has made efforts to get in contact with Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, wishing to get their autographs as well.

Contained in a handful of plastic totes was a collection of stamps, primarily around African American icons. The highlight of this collection was a large, circular display, painted dark blue and rimmed with wood. It was framed, and rested on a backdrop of grey fabric.

Its golden plaque read “Black American Heritage Story Plate.” It contained 16 rare stamps upon it, including images of figures such as Carter G. Woodson, Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and more. Redd said she found the rare display during a trip to Chesapeake, Ohio.

The ultimate inspiration that’s kept Redd collecting well into her old age is her own self-interest.

“This has all been for me, but I do joke that I should’ve been collecting money the whole time,” said Redd. “I hate to say it, but I just don’t know what I’m gonna do with it all before long.”

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African American

Black Americans credited with major contributions to blues, jazz

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June is African American Music Appreciation Month. Created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, this month celebrates the African-American musical influences that make up an essential part of our nation’s culture. Black Americans are credited with major contributions to the creation of blues, jazz, hip hop, rap, sacred music, rock ’n’ roll, and more.

The W. W. Law Collection features a variety of materials and resources related to African-American music, from audio recordings of well-known local, national and international artists, including Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, the King Cole Trio, and Odetta, to books about musicians and music styles, as well as sheet music and songbooks.

To explore more of what this treasured collection has to offer, visit savannahga.gov/wwlaw.

Unplugged: Savannah Jazz Festival hits the right notes in difficult year

Related: Savannah Jazz Festival returns to live performances with Circle of Friends fundraiser

City of Savannah Municipal Archives, Archives@savannahga.gov, Discover the Archives: savannahga.gov/MunicipalArchives.

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Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant dies

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Jim “Mudcat” Grant smiles in the dressing room after the Cleveland hurler pitched a two-hit shutout against the Kansas City Athletics, May 15, 1963. The Indians gave Mudcat a one-run lead in the first inning and made it stand up, defeating Kansas City, 1-0. (AP Photo/Julian C. Wilson)

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Cleveland Indians organization is mourning the loss of former pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant.

According to the team, Grant passed away at 85. Officials say he died peacefully Friday night in Los Angeles.

The Indians released the following statement regarding his passing:

“The Cleveland Indians family is deeply saddened by the loss of Jim “Mudcat” Grant, a true fan favorite on both the playing field and in the broadcast booth. A native of Lacoochee, FL, he joined the Indians organization at the age of 18 in 1954, made his Major League debut in 1958, and left a legacy as large as his personality. To this day, Mudcat was a cherished member of the Indians Alumni Ambassador Program. We send our condolences to the entire Grant family , as well as to his many teammates and other organizations impacted by his 60-plus years in our game.”

Bob DiBiasio, Indians SVP/Public Affairs.

Grant had at 14-year MLB career and pitched for seven different clubs.

He played seven seasons with the Tribe and compiled a record of 67-63 from 1958-1964. He also earned American League All-Star honors in 1963.

Minnesota Twins great Mudcat Grant acknowledges the crowd after then teammate Tony Oliva presented him with a replacement ring from the 1965 American League Championship team prior to the Twins baseball game against the Cleveland Indians Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Minneapolis. Mudcat lost his original ring many years ago. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Grant finished his Major League career 145-119 with a  3.63 ERA (2242.0 IP, 985 ER) in 571 outings (293 starts). 

In 1965 He became the first African-American pitcher to win 20 games and to win a World Series game. He played for the Minnesota Twins at that time.

He also authored a book titled “The Black Aces” which payed tribute to the 15 Black pitchers who were 20-game winners in MLB.

Following his playing days, he served as an activist and advocate for African American participation in baseball. Grant also called Indians games on FOX 8 (WJW-TV) with Harry Jones and served as a member of the team’s community relations department.

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Florida bans ‘critical race theory’ from its classrooms

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s state Board of Education banned “critical race theory” from public school classrooms Thursday, adopting new rules it said would shield schoolchildren from curricula that could “distort historical events.”

Florida’s move was widely expected as a national debate intensifies about how race should be used as a lens in classrooms to examine the country’s tumultuous history.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared by video at the top of the board’s meeting, urging its members, many of whom he appointed, to adopt the new measures he asserted would serve students with the facts rather than “trying to indoctrinate them with ideology.”

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped bring contentious discussions about race to the forefront of American discourse, and classrooms have become a battleground. Supporters contend that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race and that the country was founded on the theft of land and labor.

Opponents of critical race theory say schoolchildren should not be taught that America is fundamentally racist. Governors and legislatures in Republican-led states around the country are considering or have signed into law bills that would limit how teachers can frame American history.

Both sides accuse the other of politicizing classroom instruction and violating the free speech rights of countless people by limiting the allowable points of view.

Florida law already requires schools to provide instruction on a host of fundamentals, including the Declaration of Independence, the Holocaust and African American history, but the topics have often been muddled. Current events, including the killings of Black people by police, have intensified debates.

Some have called for a “faithful” interpretation of U.S. history that honors the founding of the country – as a rebellion against oppressive British rule. But some Americans – particularly Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans – argue that dissenting perspectives are often missing from text books and classroom discussions.

The new rules say classroom instruction “must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events.” It goes on to mention the Holocaust, slavery and the Civil War, as well as the civil rights movement and the contributions of Blacks, Hispanics and women to the country.

But it also makes specific mention of “theories that distort historical events” that are inconsistent with board policy, including any teaching that denies the Holocaust or espouses critical race theory, which the new rules say asserts “that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

During his brief appearance Thursday, DeSantis called it “outrageous” how some instructors are deviating from what he and others consider the fundamentals of history.

“Some of this stuff is, I think, really toxic,” DeSantis told the school board. “I think it’s going to cause a lot of divisions. I think it’ll cause people to think of themselves more as a member of particular race based on skin color, rather than based on the content of their character and based on their hard work and what they’re trying to accomplish in life.”

The Florida Education Association had called on the board to reject the proposal.

The association, which represents teachers across Florida, called on the board to strip away inflammatory language from the proposed rules. A particular sore point was the use of “indoctrinate” in the rule, which the union says presents an overly negative view of classroom instruction. That word, however, remained in the rules adopted by the board.

“The job of educators is to challenge students with facts and allow them to question and think critically about information, and that’s the antithesis of indoctrination,” Cathy Boehme, a public policy advocate for the association, told the board. “No matter our color, background or ZIP Code, we want our kids to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity and how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right.”

More than two dozen members of the public spoke on the matter, their opinions divided and impassioned. The board meeting, held at a state college in Jacksonville, was briefly recessed when one speaker went over his time limit and began chanting in support of teachers.

One woman implored the board to reject the new rules, saying it was important for children to learn about how the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still “created an uneven playing field for Black people.”

Others spoke about how an individual’s interpretation of history could reflect personal agendas and biases that could lead to the proselytization of children.

The new rules also forbids use of the 1619 Project, a classroom program spawned by a New York Times project that focuses on teaching about slavery and African American history. The project’s name refers to the year popularly believed to be when slaves were first brought to colonial America.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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