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Building understanding one book at a time

24 Oct

Back in 2009, oral historian Anne Marie Pois interviewed three of the founders of Reading to End Racism (RER), a non-profit group in Boulder County that sends trained readers into the schools to read specially chosen books to students that stimulate conversations about discrimination and overcoming it. 

This week we release “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time,” an “MROHP Short” produced by Jenna Woods, that distills that interview into an engaging and inspiring introduction to the program.

This video features founders Ghada Elturk, Jean Gore, and Daniel Escalante talking about efforts to make Boulder “a racism-free zone,” experiences in their own lives that sensitized them to issues of racism, what it means to become an ally of those who experience discrimination, and how RER creates change through its effect on both readers and students.

As Daniel Escalante says,

It’s through stories that we can begin to learn about each other, understand each other, begin to have compassion for each other. It’s hard to discriminate against somebody that you care about.

Watch “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time” here or on YouTube.

A Commitment to Social Justice

31 Jul

 

In this new entry to our MROHP Shorts video playlist on YouTube, Josie Heath–former Boulder County Commissioner and current President of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County–talks about the roots of her commitment to social justice, a commitment that became a life-long passion.

Hear stories about her experience of working in the fields alongside Latino farm workers in the 1940s at the age of ten–and of later being able to sign eight million dollars worth of checks as a county commissioner but not being able to open a bank account without her husband’s signature in the 1980s–among other stories illustrative of how she came to be committed to social welfare and women’s rights.

This interview was recorded for the Boulder County Latino History Project, undertaken in collaboration with our oral history program. The interviewer is Linda Arroyo-Holstrom, and the videographer is Irle Hernandez.The whole interview can be found here.

See also the MROHP Special Collection of interviews with members of the Boulder County Latino community here, which was funded in part by the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

First, you’ve got to be able to count

22 Mar

Uh-oh! Due to technical problems, the library’s oral history site may be down for as much as two months.  In the meantime, we will post more interviews to the library’s YouTube channel–some full interviews and some excerpts–to keep you connected to oral histories.

Today’s post: a full interview with Jean Dubofsky about her career as a lawyer and a judge, including being the youngest and first woman to serve on the Colorado Supreme Court.

She also talks about her successful argument to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 2, the 1992 Colorado amendment that prohibited the passage of laws that provided protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hear the advice she got from John Roberts (now chief justice of the Supreme Court) about being successful when arguing in front of the court: “First you’ve got to be able to count.”  

Watch a little of the interview or watch it all at to find out what Justice Roberts meant and whether it was good advice!

If you are not able to watch the interview above, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/jdubofsky

On the week that Gov. Hickenlooper signed the civil unions bill, we thought this interview would bring a greater depth of understanding to the history of gay civil rights issues in Colorado.

The Hurt is in the Heart

10 Feb

By Emily Shuster

I CAME TO BOULDER six weeks ago as an intern for the Maria Rogers Oral History Program.

To the eyes and ears of a visitor to Boulder, one from the part of the country where an eight-hundred foot rise is designated a “peak,” many things seem different, and unexpected.

 To the eyes and ears of this visitor to Boulder—a college student from Vermont, originally hailing from the Boston area—other notable traits here are the personality of this community, and personalities in this community. The stories that Boulder residents tell seem to be not only rich with adventure, excitement and accomplishment, but they carry a uniquely noticeable interest in, and care for one another. 

Through my internship I have felt privileged to have the opportunity to listen to the stories of many fascinating Boulder residents who embody this characteristic. There seems to be something in the (dry!) air here that fosters the mindset of person-to-person civility and compassion.

 “…the hurt is not in the wallet, the hurt is in the heart”

So says Cindy Taylor, Director of the Consumer Affairs Division at the Boulder County Attorney General’s office.  Ms. Taylor was interviewed by Shirley Steele for the oral history program (the interview was filmed by Liz McCutcheon).  The whole interview is available on the Maria Rogers Oral History web site , but you can watch the short video above to learn about the essence of the Consumer Affairs Division’s work and hear about consumer protection resources available to those in need of help. Continue reading

The Man They Said They’d Never Free

13 Jan

By Brandon Springer

Bill Cohen and Naum Meiman, 1988

IN SEPTEMBER OF 1946, Soviet Jewish mathematician Naum Meiman was parted from his family. His daughter, Olga Plam; her husband, Misha; and their son were leaving the Soviet Union for the United States after spending a year as refuseniks, Soviet Jews who had applied for exit visas from the state and were denied repeatedly.

 Meiman would spend thirteen more years as a human rights activist fighting for his release and for the release of other Soviet Jews who desired and were denied the right to emigrate. He lived through severe repression from the Soviet state, isolation and loneliness. But through all of those years, his daughter, and later other Boulder residents who had formed the advocacy and resettlement organization Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ), fought tirelessly on his behalf.

Listen to a podcast about “The Man They Said They’d Never Free.”

Continue reading

Video: Alternatives to Violence

20 Dec

“ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE CONTINUE TO BE MY LIFE’S WORK,” says Jean Gore, who on December 11, 2010, was the recipient of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s award for “Lifetime Commitment for Peace and Justice.”

Born in 1925, Jean Gore says that trying to make things better in the world has been a way of life for her.  In particular, she has spent much of her life trying to create a culture of peace internationally–through work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Peace Brigades in Central America; and the Reading to End Racism program in Boulder; to name just a few of her dozens of involvements over many decades.

Earlier this year, Ms. Gore created a short video with students in Kayann Short’s “Activist Archive Digital Storytelling Project,” a service learning project for Dr. Kayann Short’s course, “Innovative Approaches to Contemporary Issues through Service.”  You can view the video, “Alternatives to Violence,” here or on the Boulder Library’s YouTube channel.

The oral history program also has four interviews with Ms. Gore in our oral history digital archive.

In Memoriam, 2010: Father James McKeown

3 Dec

THE MARIA ROGERS ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM has collected interviews with Boulder and Boulder County residents since 1976. Each year we add about 50 new interviews to our archive. And every year, some of the people that we interviewed finish their time here on earth, leaving behind loved ones and memories of a wide variety of experiences and accomplishments. Fifteen of the people who died in 2010 told of their experiences through oral history interviews.

The sanctuary at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder

One of those people, Father James McKeown, is featured in our latest podcast, produced by Heidi Pate. Father McKeown was born in 1921 and was a priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Boulder from 1965 to 1991.  In his oral history he spoke about his church’s response to the influx of young people to Boulder during the summers of the late 1960s, including many runaways who had heard about Boulder’s reputation as a “happening place.”

Father McKeown explained, “At that time the city and county had no facilities for runaways. They were put into the regular jail. Continue reading

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