The Biden administration announced on January 25, 2021, that it would accelerate the process of adding Harriet Tubman’s portrait to the $20 bill. The previous administration had sidetracked the plan to, for the first time ever, put a Black woman on paper money. But the American people spoke, and now the slave holder will be replaced by the abolitionist on the twenty. People might just start saving money again, reluctant to part with the first batch of Tubmans issued by the treasury.
Unending battles over Confederate flags, monuments, and the National Anthem suggest that the issues contested in the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement remain unresolved. A polarized nation expressed its allegiance to different historic narratives, and even different flags, during this last year
Through her words and demeanor, Amanda Gorman restored the dignity of the United States Capitol, which had been desecrated weeks before by insurrectionists. Gorman became the youngest person to ever read an Inaugural Poem on January 20, 2021. She shared the stage with newly sworn in President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, but Gorman stole the show.
In the last month, 2 reports from New York State Attorney General Leticia James have called for substantive changes in 2 Rockland law enforcement organizations, the Spring Valley Police and the Sheriff’s Department. To our north, just yesterday, Rochester, NY joined the rogues gallery of municipalities that must explain how brutalizing a handcuffed individual–in this case, a 9-year old girl–is acceptable police procedure. To protect the public and repair the garment of civility that binds us as a society, Rockland needs a People’s Panel on Policing.
When printmaker Sylvia Roth moved into her home in South Nyack in 1977, she had no idea it was the birthplace of a major figure in American art, Joseph Cornell. This house on Piermont Avenue seems to have its own designs, selecting artistic occupants for over a century.
June Sundvik must have smiled down from heaven when SUEZ Water withdrew their proposal to operate a hub for 100 utility trucks on her beloved Old Mill Road. I was honored to work with the artist on her memoir during the last 2 years of her life. Despite discomfort and weakness, she was determined to share the bucolic tranquility of a community that is now host to the eighth largest mall in America, a quarry, and a global water company known locally for their malodorous product. Thanks to June, we have a sense of pre-overdeveloped eastern Rockland County.
A mother and daughter, both therapists, practice from this home in Nyack. Susan Travis has been seeing patients for 36 years in the wood-paneled front parlor. Her daughter Justine Girard, demonstrating just how close to the tree the fruit of her mother’s labor has fallen, operates from a studio behind the house.
SUEZ Water has withdrawn its proposal to construct a parking lot that would accommodate a fleet of over 100 trucks and would be located a few hundred feet from Lake DeForest, our region’s water supply. Hundreds of residents attended a series of public hearings from the spring of 2019 until January 2020 to protest the proposal to create, rather than mitigate, pollution hazards near the reservoir.
If the group photo was not on the list of casualties of COVID-19, you would be looking at a wide-angle image of 400 volunteer mask makers who kept our community safe in 2020. In my last column of this insufferable year, I thank, by name, the Nyack Mask Makers for embedding mask hygiene into the local culture
On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, Dr. Frances Pratt concluded her 41 year sprint as the President of the Nyack Branch of the NAACP. Dr. Pratt handed the relay baton to local civic leader Nicole Hines, trusting that she might keep the pace in the unending struggle for racial equity in America.