Monday, November 30, 2009

On This Day in History

On November 30, 1835, Samuel Langhorn Clemons-Mark Twain, was born. I must confess that the birthday appears nowhere on my calendar and would have gone unnoticed had it not been for Doug Ross.

As a child and teen I was an incurable tomboy who, when not engaged in some type of foolishness, loved to read. Mark Twain and Tolkien were my favorites. Their books are full of incredible characters who lived the adventures that I longed for.

I met my first black person when I was in middle school. Until then, Huck Finn's Jim was my idea of what a black man was. I imagined him tall and strong, wise and caring, while Huck, was the male version of myself. From a "station" point of view, Huck could not have been more different from myself. Certainly I was raised by a father who was, is, the opposite of Huck's Pa.

Mark Twain didn't have a politicaly correct bone in his body and as a result, generations of children will no longer be assigned his works to read. It is a shame. There is much to be learned from the relationship between Huck and Jim. It is also a terrible shame that children are so protected, by necessity, that they will never drift down the river or play hide and seek in a cornfield or ride as far as their bikes will take them as I did as a child. Twain fueled my imagination and took me beyond my small town existence.

Happy birthday, Mark.

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