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Kennedy & School Desegregation: Research Proposal April 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lkuenzi @ 8:59 pm

Hello All,

I have attached my proposal in a Word file to preserve original spacing and footnotes.



Research Proposal Abstract: Kennedy and Civil Rights April 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lkuenzi @ 11:02 pm

During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, many critiques were raised about his policies and leadership in regards to the Civil Rights Movement. Many did not believe that his administration took a radical enough approach in eradicating segregation and violence against Blacks in the South. Though legal segregation in schools was overturned in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, many Southern schools ignored this law and continued their practice of having separate educational facilities. Though his administration eventually brought forth new legislation that would turn into The Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation of public schools and facilities such as restaurants and buses, Kennedy remained hesitant to intervene throughout the course of Blacks’ struggle for equal rights in the South. Though Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregated public schools in 1954, it took nearly ten years for legislation to arrive that would enforce this law definitively. I intend to explore the complex interplay between national and Southern political climates at the time of John F. Kennedy’s administration to search for answers as to why the Kennedy administration was slow in delivering the freedoms demanded by Civil Rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.


Janis’ Roots: Scars of Sweet Paradise April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lkuenzi @ 8:30 pm

             According to Echols, Janis Joplin’s wild ride to fame was drastically different, for many different reasons, than any others of her time. Major contributors to her unique experience of finding fame was an alienating childhood and adolescence (both at the hands of her own insecurities, and from lack of acceptance from parents and peers), and her inability to assimilate to the social and cultural “norms” of her time. Though she didn’t experience fame for long, only becoming well-known after the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and dying in October 1970, she made a big impact on many people. These impressions were both negative and positive, for her style of dress, outspoken personality, and refusal to please anyone but herself. Joplin was also a pioneer of the Beatnik counterculture movement, and arguably one of its most controversial members.

            It is very easy to dislike Janis Joplin as a person—she fired her mouth off at everyone around her for the most minor annoyances, and reveled in self-martyrdom. However, throughout reading this book, one of the main things that made Janis Joplin an admirable and endearing personality was that she never really left her roots. Though her roots appear to have been a conventional life in Port Arthur, Texas, Echols establishes early on that Janis had her own idea of what roots were. It seems apparent that she never betrayed her most initial inclinations of standing out in a crowd. As illustrated by a story about Janis as a young child, sleepwalking clear out of Port Arthur and claiming that she was going home, it seems as though she may her never made it there. Despite her desperate need for peer- and self-approval, Janis’ life was extremely isolated. But there were certain things that never changed. From the first time that Janis headed west to San Francisco, she developed an affinity for making a scene, standing out, speaking out, and showing out. Even when she became famous and wealthy, she filled her house with used furniture and bought a used Porsche. Janis, at the very least, never became what she said she’d never become.


Cowboy Hats and Power in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” March 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lkuenzi @ 6:39 pm

In Coal Miner’s Daughter, the life of country music superstar Loretta Lynn is chronicled, primarily notable for her “rags-to-riches” transformation and her unusually early age of marriage to a much older man. The film struggles to reconcile several issues of power and independent agency, most pointedly portrayed in the somewhat dysfunctional marriage of Doolittle and Loretta Lynn. From an impoverished upbringing in rural Kentucky as the daughter of a coal miner, to a very young wife and mother, to finding uncommon success as a female country music artist, Loretta Lynn must struggle for her own autonomy in the context of an oppressive and abusive relationship.

The film uses the image of cowboy hats as a means to signify the ownership of power and the transference of power between various characters. The first time that Loretta Lynn is seen wearing her white cowboy hat is when Doolittle takes her picture in the living room of their home. He places the hat on her head; thus signifying that he has the power over her: he has primarily been in charge of her music career so far, facilitating gigs and getting her name out to the locals. Later, when Loretta Lynn first appears on the Grand Ole Opry, he secures the cowboy hat on her head. Although she has chosen to put it on, he makes sure that it will remain as a symbol of his power over her. However, a shift occurs thereafter in the image of the cowboy hat. After the moment at the Grand Ole Opry, Loretta Lynn uses the cowboy hat to her own advantage to signify a shift in power over Doolittle: she defies his control of her destiny. After performing at the Opry, Loretta Lynn tosses her cowboy hat to Doolittle at a diner with Patsy Cline, and in the next breath reminds him that he is: “just a tax deduction.” When she finds Doolittle in the car with another woman, she removes his cowboy hat from the head of the woman he was fooling around with, representing her regaining control of her husband and not allowing him to stray. Finally, after getting in a fight with Doolittle in a parking lot, she throws his cowboy hat out of the window as her car speeds off. Although Loretta Lynn had to fight against her husband to have power over her own life, she did so through the image of the cowboy hat, and came out on top of the power hierarchy in the end.


March 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lkuenzi @ 2:05 am

Cleaning The Pool, St. Augustine, Florida

Mr. and Mrs. Chris McNair

In July 2008, I participated in a youth theater project at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta called The Collision Project. Twenty high school students from the metro Atlanta area “collided” for three weeks and discussed topics of race and rebellion, writing on topics related to the “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. A professional playwright then wrote a play entitled “Children of the Dream” using our writing. Looking back on them now, these writing samples sound a little cheesy, but I decided to post them anyway. We went to an exhibition of Civil Rights Photos at the High Museum and each wrote two poems based on two different photos we saw at the exhibit.

“Cleaning The Pool-St. Augustine, Florida”

Maybe enough chemicals will dilute this rebellion

And with the correct combination of bleach and chlorine

Their hair will be blonder

Their eyes will be bluer

Their skin will be paler.

Maybe enough chemicals will induce obedience and calm their frustrations

They will be placated and learn to accept a fate of unequal destiny.

Maybe enough chemicals will erode an entire cultural history.

And a struggle for life that has spanned several decades

will be erased with bromine and algaecides, seeping into and poisoning their minds.

Maybe when we’re all the same

When we all look, talk and act the same

The pathway will be paved for peace among mankind.

“Mr. & Mrs. Chris McNair”

A picture is not real, it is only a memory.

Sometimes, memories are not good enough.

We cling to it, for it is all we have left our our daughter.

Our daughter, who died at the hands of heartless murderers

In the name of their ignorance and hate.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our first word is “why?”

Why did she have to die before her life had even begun?

Why has her existence been reduced to an 8” x 10” piece of paper?

Why wasn’t she given the chance to fix the mess created by her parents’ generation?

There are no answers because there is no reason

Only an excuse for the shattered pieces

We are left with to make whole.

And that excuse is fear shrouded with violence

That exploded on Sunday with vengeance and fury

In a place our family called home.


Reading Reflection: Coming of Age in Mississippi February 26, 2010

Filed under: Reading Journals — lkuenzi @ 6:08 am

Anne Moody’s autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi is best described as an existence of fighting. From the very first traumatic memory she records, being beaten and framed for arson by her terrible uncle, Moody brings violence and hardship to her story without even trying. From a simple beginning in Mississippi, including an unfaithful father, an emotionally tortured and fragile mother, and too many children to feed on the family’s budget, Moody is always struggling. She finally makes it out of her small town life to work as an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement, primarily through the NAACP and SNCC. While I found her work inspiring, I was most impressed and connected on a much more personal level to the immense personal transformations that Moody underwent to get from a poor black girl in Mississippi, who was mishandled and mistreated by her white employers and deeply affected by the violence towards those around her, to someone who could stare white hatred head-on and barely even balk.

In the beginning, Anne Moody was always afraid. She took things as they came, questioning them internally and struggling with the injustices around her, but rarely took occasion to speak up against what was done to her. After Mrs. Jetson claimed she was unable to pay Essie Mae for her work that week, and said she would have to pay her the next week, Moody describes her reaction by saying: “I stood there looking and feeling like a stupid fool. I didn’t say anything, though. I just left” (140). Essie Mae is similarly dumbfounded but does not speak up when Linda Jean cuts her pay in half. However, just a few short years later, Moody participates in of the first sit-ins at a White-only lunch counter and faces volatile racism head-on. Changed by the violence she witnessed, Moody was forced to put an ice cold front and pushed through the uncertainties with seeming indifference: “I waited to hear from her again. And I waited to hear in the news that someone in Centreville had been murdered. If so, I knew it would be a member of my family” (269). More than anything, Moody becomes changed by the violence she experiences by learning to channel it into a rock-hard exterior, one that cannot be broken down by hateful words or hateful actions.


Reading Reflection: Voices of Protest February 18, 2010

Filed under: Reading Journals — lkuenzi @ 6:01 am

In his comparative biography, Brinkley chronicles the lives, power roles, and circumstances for achieving greatness of Huey Long and Father Coughlin. Though he seems to emphasize the chance of circumstances in which both men rose to such immense power, credit can no doubt also be attributed to the enigmatic and contagious personalities of the “Kingfish” and the “Radio Priest.” In the case of Huey Long, who called for a redistribution of wealth through the “Share Our Weatlh” Program and supported a federally-regulated banking system , Brinkley focuses on Long’s ability to command an audience and appear relatable to the masses: though he was a politician, he worked hard to be seen by his constituents as a friend and a community-member. Father Coughlin, though his popularity came through his success as a radio broadcaster whose voice reached millions of American homes, also called for drastic economic reform (including bimetallism) and frequently lashed out at Roosevelt’s New Deal because it believed it was not sufficiently radical, and could not pull the Nation’s people out of the Great Depression.

Long and Coughlin experienced unparalleled personal and political popularity throughout their time in the limelight, but what most intrigued me about their stories were how they both met their ends: they were both great, but they allowed success to ultimately destroy them.  Long was a deeply corrupt politician who, “dynamited” people out of the way who disagreed with him. After finally agitating the wrong person, he was gunned during a low-point in his popularity, during the downswing of his career. Coughlin did not meet such a poetic end. After developing wildly unpopular anti-Semitic broadcasts, breaking formally with the Roosevelt administration and condemning U.S. entrance into World War II, he was forced off the air and vanished from the forefront of American interest and support. The power that these two men had could not be maintained, and their unsavory (to some) personalities and beliefs ultimately caused their demise.