Friday News: A truly teachable moment


ADAMS, BUTTERFIELD, AND MANNING FILE BILL TO TEACH WOOLWORTH'S SIT-IN: Three members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation paid tribute to the 62nd anniversary of the Greensboro Four sit-in by introducing a resolution Tuesday that called on all states to teach about the demonstration in history classes. On Feb. 1, 1960, David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan and Joseph McNeil, four Black students from N.C. A&T State University, visited the F.W. Woolworth department store’s lunch counter to protest against the business for serving lunch only to white customers. Their actions sparked similar sit-ins around North Carolina and a national movement that led more than 700,000 students, clergy members and others to fight for racial equality in the South. U.S. Reps. Kathy Manning, Alma Adams and G.K. Butterfield asked the House colleagues to support their resolution honoring the Greensboro Four for contributing to the civil rights movement and inspiring college students to get involved. It wasn't just courageous, it was uncommonly courageous. Students need to be taught that, so they will know what being an American is all about. Or should be all about.

AND IF WE DID TEACH IT, MAYBE THINGS LIKE THIS WOULDN'T HAPPEN AS OFTEN: More than a dozen gravestones were either broken or toppled in a historic Black cemetery in North Carolina where the oldest headstone is said to date back more than 170 years, officials said. It’s not clear when or why the Dixonville Cemetery was vandalized, but Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Task Force Chair Emily Perry said it was heartbreaking to see vandalism affecting a project she has worked on for 11 years, the Salisbury Post reported. The vandalism was discovered as Perry and communications staff with the city of Salisbury drove to the cemetery on Wednesday to film videos for Black History Month. One of the city’s oldest Black cemeteries, Dixonville Cemetery was deeded to the city of Salisbury in 1874. There are more than 500 documented burials that have occurred at the Dixonville site since 1914. However, many took before there was official record-keeping and are unmarked. The oldest existing headstone in Dixonville Cemetery dates to 1851. Blame the parents. Seriously.

ELECTION WORKERS NATIONWIDE FACE THREATS DAILY THANKS TO TRUMPISM: Lawmakers in a handful of states are seeking greater protections for election officials amid growing concerns for their safety after they were targeted by threats of violence following the 2020 presidential election. Widespread threats against those who oversee elections, from secretaries of state to county clerks and even poll workers, soared after former President Donald Trump and his allies spread false claims about the outcome of the presidential election. “Corrupt secretaries will all hang when the stolen election is revealed” is just one example of the vitriol that has come from social media, emails and phone messages. Even in Vermont, where the outcome wasn't disputed, election workers have faced threats. A caller to the secretary of state's office said in 2020 that a firing squad would target “all you cheating (vulgarity),” and “a lot of people are going to get executed.” To counter the threats, lawmakers have introduced bills so far in Vermont and several other states, including Illinois, Maine, New Mexico and Washington, all of which have legislatures controlled by Democrats. Much of the legislation would create or boost criminal liability for threats and, in Illinois, for assaults against election workers. BergerMoore wouldn't even let a vote get taken on such a bill.

NOW TRUMP'S MINIONS ARE GOING AFTER BUTTERFLIES: The National Butterfly Center in South Texas will be closed “for the immediate future” because of baseless attacks stemming from a clash over immigration enforcement at the nearby U.S.-Mexico border, the organization said Wednesday. The nonprofit center in Mission has endured a firestorm in recent years amid an ongoing lawsuit against the former Trump administration, which sought to build part of a border wall on its property, and the fundraising organization We Build the Wall. Right-wing groups have falsely claimed the butterfly center illegally smuggles people into the United States and facilitates sex trafficking. Leadership of the 100-acre butterfly preserve said they chose to shut their doors out of concern for the safety of visitors and their staff, whom they will continue to pay. “We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light,” Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the center, said in a statement. The indefinite closure comes shortly after the center shut down for three days last weekend, citing “credible threats” from a former state official regarding a nearby border-security rally. The We Stand America event in McAllen featured Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, and other Trump administration officials. Ah, that explains a lot. Michael Flynn is several sandwiches shy of a picnic.

SPEAKING OF BUTTERFLIES, THEIR MIGRATORY JOURNEY IS FASCINATING: Every year an estimated 100–200 million monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) migrate two thousand to three thousand miles between the United States/Canada and Mexico. While there are other populations of monarchs, including in western North America, South America, the Caribbean, and Australia, the population in eastern North America is the best known because of its amazing migration. During the migration, the butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, where they then go through the larval and pupal stages. Milkweed is the only plant that provides food for the developing larvae. The butterflies are thus dependent on milkweed during their migratory route through the US. It typically takes up to three generations of butterflies to make the complete journey. This means that the navigation information is genetically programmed. One of the unique aspects of the migration of the monarchs in eastern North America is that during their summer stay in Canada they occupy close to 400,000 square miles, while during their overwintering hibernation in Mexico they occupy less than half a square mile. As noted previously, they often migrate back to the same tree that their ancestor butterflies departed from in a mountainous region in Mexico. That means they must have an extremely accurate method of navigation to locate such a small target. Monarchs navigate using a sun compass, and as previously described, this includes time compensation to account for the movement of the sun. The circadian clock used in the process is embedded within the butterfly’s antennae. The sun’s azimuth position is detected through the butterfly’s compound eyes. Researchers are only just beginning to decode the biological information required for these amazing feats. The genome of monarch butterflies has been decoded, including the genes related to the neurobiology and physical systems used for migration. Comparisons of migratory monarch genomes with the genomes of non-migratory monarchs has revealed that more than five hundred genes are involved in migratory behavior. I, on the other hand, can get lost in a Harris Teeter. Not really lost, just caught up in that maze between health and beauty aids and frozen foods. Then I get home, and I'm like, "Gelato? Oh, man."