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Two Heroes: Rosa and Joe

Two great friends recently passed on: Rosa Bogar on Sep. 2, and Joe Schwartzberg on Sep. 19.  Rosa was 77; Joe was 90.  My life is richer for having known them both.  Their impact is far more than can be expressed in a few words, so my purpose here is simply to introduce them to you.

Here is Rosa Bogar’s eulogy, the featured death in the Sep. 18, 2018, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Rosa Bogar Mpls STrib001.

Here is Joe Schwartzberg’s obituary, also from the Star Tribune.

Rosa Bogar

I have a file about Rosa, and its contents reveal that I met her in 2006.  We happened to be seated at the same table at the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast earlier that year.  She was retired, and had a most interesting story, and over the years we kept in touch.

The eulogy in the newspaper accurately catches the Rosa that I knew as a true hero, someone whose example I hope I can follow.

The last time I saw her was May 1, at an event we’d invited her to attend, on the topic of Forgiveness.   I took the below photo, which she probably wouldn’t prefer, but as you can tell she and the others were seriously engaged in what the speaker had to say (forgiveness is difficult, as you likely know, especially when you have to do the forgiving….)  By her choice she came to the event by bus, was glad she came, and I gave her a ride home after.  She didn’t reveal anything about her ailment recurring, but apparently she was terminally ill.   Life was apparently winding down for her.

May 26, 2018, she sent me a copy of a letter from the archivist at the Hennepin County Library, accepting Rosa’s “personal papers and photographs for public use at the James K. Hosmer Special Collections.”    A handwritten note with the letter was succinct:  “I’m most proud of my collection.  Check it out!”  I will, and I’ll give the archive my own Rosa Bogar file.

Rosa Bogar (at left) May 1, 2018

Rosa can’t speak for herself, now, but as we visited over the years it seemed to me that her twin passions were recognition for the very real accomplishments of those of African descent in this country.  Her card identified her:  “Rosa Bogar/Founder/Visionary.  Ancestral Wrap.  Honoring African American History and Culture.  Headwraps and rags deeply rooted in the culture: “wrap heads” of this truth.

She was among those featured in the 1996 book, Heroes Among Us, by columnist and author Jim Klobuchar.

She also sought  reconciliation for injustice: things like the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968, which happened in the community in which she grew up was very important to her.  Back in 2008, she sent me a article about Orangeburg and her recollections of it: Orangeburg 1968002.

When I drove her home on May 1, she gave me a gift, shown in the below photo.  Simply water bottles, which she apparently distributed at the Orangeburg observance she attended in 2018.  They’ll not be discarded.  Thank you, Rosa.

The third bottle is in memory of her deceased brother.

Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg

The last photo I took of my friend, Joe, was March 13, 2018, at his home, with photos of part of his collection of personal doodles.

Joe Schwartzberg March 13, 2018

Joe and Rosa never met, but had their paths crossed, I am sure they would have had a very interesting conversation: he from Brooklyn, she from Orangeburg, he an internationally known and highly respected academician, she with less formal education, but well known in her community, with a passion like Joe’s for justice and community.

My context with Joe was active membership with Citizens for Global Solutions MN, at whose website you can view an interview of him in 2014.   In his final years, his passion was passing along his knowledge and experience with the Workable World Trust.

As Joe’s years dwindled down to months, then days, he endeavored to leave behind a compiled record of his work.  One result is his personal  “kaleidoscopic account” of a long life actively lived: JES Kaleidoscopic Sketch 2018-08-15

In his papers was a remarkable draft of a  proposed “World Constitution“, handwritten in 1955 when he was 27 and a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, just beginning his career.

His cover letter to myself and others said “should you choose to study my Constitution, bear in mind that it was written in the early days of the Cold War and at a time when the UN had only 60 members [today, 193].  Matters that one thinks little about today (e.g. decolonization) receive greater attention in my 1955 work than they would if I were writing it in the recent past…When I wrote my Constitution I did so with a view to what I supposed had a reasonable chance of being accepted by the nations of the world in 1955.  I think we should continue to ask ourselves that question in 2018.

For some reason, Joe sent me and whomever else the following link on August 7, 2018: The Memory Mystery from The Daily Paradox.  I have to think it had some special meaning to him, which he wished to share with whomever was on that particular list.

Over the years, Joe’s “signature” became his Affirmation of Human Oneness, which he had translated into over 40 world languages.  You can see them here.  For years, at events, he would post his hand-made Principles of Global Peace and Global Justice.  One year I took photos of all of them, and if you’re on Facebook you can see them in an online album here.

In the last few months, he invited me to ask for a doodle which I might like to have.  His doodles happened as they do for most of us when we’re sitting in meetings of one kind or another.  His were uncommonly artistic, and diverse in their content, and when pressed he didn’t reveal that he had anything particular in mind when he was drawing them.  (He comments on them in his “Kaleidoscopic Sketch”.)

The doodle I requested, and received, is below, 5″x8″.  As with Rosa’s bottles of water, this doodle will be treasured.

Thank you, Joe.

Both Joe and Rosa left behind not only memories, but good examples.  They were among many teachers I’ve had in my life.

Who were some of yours?

#713 – Dick Bernard: Some thoughts after World Law Day, May 1, 2013

About 40 of us gathered at the Gandhi Mahal Retaurant last evening, May 1, to Reflect On World Peace Through Law.
The event was one of those that just came together; in this case, less than three weeks. Law Day has been a part of the American tradition since at least 1958, when President Eisenhower proclaimed it, and in fact Law Day was made part of U.S. Law in 1961.
Of course, May 1 has many different emphases:
There is the annual May Day Parade in South Minneapolis, both serious and whimsical – we often attend: (This year it is Sunday May 5). I highly recommend it.
As a Catholic kid in the 1940s, I remember May Day for May Baskets, and “Mary, Queen of the May”; May Day is a long-time international Labor Day. In the Communist days in the USSR and the Soviet bloc, May Day was a day to parade out military hardware in huge parades….
I suppose someone knows exactly why President Eisenhower proclaimed Law Day for May 1, 1958. My personal speculation is that the proclamation had something to do with the successful launch of Sputnik by the USSR in October, 1957. There needed to be a counter to the Soviet May Day.
Whatever the reasons, competing themes give an opportunity to fight over what May Day is or should be…
The May 1 event I was part of was an opportunity to reflect on World Law and its relationship to Peace.
As best as I can tell “World Law Day” has been a particularly Twin Cities interpretation of Law Day (and a most relevant interpretation).
May 1, 2013 evolved into an opportunity to honor the contributions of our elders who possess much accumulated wisdom.
World Law Day was formally celebrated in Minneapolis-St. Paul from at least 1964 through 1996, and was largely the creation of several persons, including Lynn Elling. (page four of the 2013 program has a timeline: Law Day Prog May 1 2013001
David Brink (93) former President of the American Bar Association was our speaker May 1; an impromptu decision was made to call the event the “1st Annual Lynn and Donna Elling Symposium on World Peace Through Law.” Donna passed away in June, 2011, but Lynn, at 92, was there, less than 24 hours returned from two weeks in Vietnam with his adopted Vietnamese son, Tod.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Lynn Elling May 1, 2013.

Lynn Elling May 1, 2013.


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Elder Rev. Lyle Christianson introduced Mr. Brink; Rev. Lowell Erdahl and Joe Schwartzberg, other prominent elders in the peace and justice community were in attendance, and an in-preparation film about World Citizen Garry Davis, 92, and ailing was screened after the event.
If there is to be a “2nd Annual” World Law Event on May 1, 2014 (it’s a Thursday), will depend on the interest of those who attended May 1, and others whose interest may have been stimulated by two commentaries in the May 1, Minneapolis Star Tribune. The commentaries, by Joe Schwartzberg and Jim Nelson, lay out the history and in effect the case for a continuing World Law Day.
Take the time to not only read the commentaries, but to add your own comment. And get active.
Where do you stand?
And if you’re a Twin Citian, consider giving Gandhi Mahal some of your business. They are serious about community orientation (and an excellent restaurant, too!)
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#385 – Dick Bernard: A 2:43 Speech: "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream". A matter of Climate Change and Other Things.

UPDATE/SUPPLEMENT June 19, 2011, here.
As we all do, I dream, and I just awoke from a dream whose essential message I remember. This doesn’t always happen.
I want to share the dream, and speculate from whence it came.
For some reason I found myself as king# of the world, only for a few minutes, able to direct people who were influential decision makers.
Since only a few run things in this world of ours, I didn’t have to speak to all 7 billion people, only to a few. We were in a large, stark, room, and the few of us could gather in a corner. Perhaps there were a dozen of us. Significantly, there were no women# in this directed conversation.
We gathered in a square, each bringing our own platform, which seemed to resemble a school desk such as a student would occupy. They were of random design, these desks. Again, we were all men#.
All gathered together, I gave the direction, which for some reason sticks vividly in my mind.
Each person in this square had precisely two minutes and 43 seconds to say what they had to say. No rebuttal, no debate. Two minutes and 43 seconds.
Then I woke up.
There are people who make their living interpreting dreams. I’m not one of those people.
The back story of my dream perhaps came a few hours earlier when I, along with perhaps 70 others, men and women, participated in a powerful one and a half hours with world climate expert Professor John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. He started his talk with a satellite photo of the world, specifically Africa; he ended his presentation with photos of his two daughters, age four and five, who are, he said, the reason he’s devoting his professional life to the crisis of climate change. He is, after all, making their future, and that of their descendants. Africa in particular, and the coming generations will reap the consequences of human activity, especially during the period of the Industrial Revolution.
It was a powerful evening.
I wonder if, when I read this aloud, I’ll come out to two minutes and 43 seconds.
*
“Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream”? I first heard John Denver sing that song years ago; it most impacted me when Lynn Elling led us in that song in June, 2007. It was a moment, that one in 2007, that changed my life.
You can listen to John Denver’s rendition at my website A Million Copies. There you can also read about Lynn Elling, and also about Dr. Joe Schwartzberg’s Affirmation of Human Oneness. Dr. Schwartzberg was in charge of last nights meeting, and at the beginning, we read his Affirmation of Human Oneness, appearing at the website in the 41 languages into which it has thus far been translated.
On reflection, my dream was not at all strange.
How about for you?
What would you say in your two minutes and 43 seconds, and to whom would you say it?
Most importantly, then what will you do to put that 2:43 into reality? Not, what will you order others to do, but what will YOU do?
This is an especially important question to the women. Men have mucked things up royally, and perhaps terminally. Women can turn things around perhaps more effectively than any group of men can.
It’s time to act.

Some Resources:
Dr. Abraham’s climate science organization website is here. There is a lot of content accessible here.
A website he recommended is CoolPlanetMN. And another, Minnesota Environmental Partnership.
The organization Lynn Elling founded in 1982: World Citizen. The organization sponsoring last nights event with John Abraham: Citizens for Global Solutions MN. I am privileged to be part of both groups.
(Click on photos to enlarge them.)

Dr. John Abraham, professor, School of Engineering, St. Thomas University, St. Paul MN


Dr. Joe Schwartzberg, President Citizens for Global Solutions MN, Professor Emeritus in Geography, University of Minnesota, June 16, 2011


Extra Special Thanks to Lee Dechert who made this program happen.

Richard (Lee) Dechert introduces Prof. Abraham June 16, 2011


# – A woman friend challenged me on these references. The references were intentional, and as I remembered the dream. It is we men who have and continue to run our world into the ground. More and more women are involved, but until women make the election to take the lead, past mistakes will continue to be made.