Recognize forgotten icons of Black history
After reading “Let Us Heal, Let Us Forget and Forgive,” April 21, I find myself mostly in agreement with Vickie Oldham and Walter Gilbert, who favor a lynching memorial proposed in Sarasota.
But I was also reminded of how I came to learn of Sarasota’s history when first moving here.
After purchasing my home in 2009, I quickly learned how important John Ringling, Bertha Palmer and Owen Burns were to our community’s history.
But only after working on my master’s degree in the Florida Studies Program at University of South Florida, and digging deep into Sarasota’s civil rights history, did I learn of historical icons who should never be forgotten: Mary Emma Jones, Neil Humphrey and Jerome O. Stevens.
Their contributions to the development of Sarasota were huge and too many to detail here. Their sacrifices and perseverance while creating a community that we can all be proud of deserve recognition. Yet they remain, for the most part, unknown.
Regardless of whether the lynching victims are memorialized, Jones, Humphrey and Stevens should be prominently recognized in a location visible to all of Sarasota’s residents and visitors, Black or white.
Judy C. Jesiolowski, Sarasota
Don’t try to undo single-member districts
The same overwhelming majority of Sarasota County citizens who voted to institute single-member districts will rise up again to defeat any effort to go back to the at-large system (“County may again bypass census data for districts,” April 22).
If Commissioner Mike Moran is determined to spend our taxpayer money in an effort to undo something we taxpayers voted to do, then it must be asked: Whom does he represent? It surely isn’t the majority of voters in Sarasota County!
William C. Zoller, Sarasota
Focus on major threat: vaccine hesitancy
In his column April 22, Marc Thiessen criticized the government’s decision to withhold the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending a review of whether it was responsible for the development of potentially deadly blood clots (“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause is costing American lives”).
While most people would understand the government’s need to err on the side of caution when presented with a potentially dangerous side effect from a vaccine that had been approved under emergency authority, if Thiessen is really concerned with the number who might die or suffer seriousness illnesses from this delay, his attention might better be focused on an even greater threat.
In a recent Quinnipiac poll, 45% (millions in number) of Republicans said they will refuse to get the vaccine.
Refusing to be vaccinated is likely to result in far more death and serious illness than this temporary vaccine delay, not only among those who go unvaccinated, but also those who are infected by them.
Thiessen might also be concerned about the many thousands who have unnecessarily died or been seriously ill due to the premature actions of state leaders, including Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, who have put the health of the economy over the health of their citizens.
Steve Higgins, Sarasota
At last, a day of tears and joy
On April 21, we could breathe again! In Denmark, where citizens obeyed all the COVID-19 rules and a large percentage are now vaccinated, this was the day the country got what it deserved, opening up.
Folks were drinking their Tuborgs in outside bars or indoors by presenting a negative COVID-19 test.
April 21 was also the day this American could breathe again: Raised in New York by liberal parents, I attended the original “Fame” school on 46th Street in Manhattan, where you were valued for talent in acting, music and dance and not for your skin color.
I married the Danish jazz violinist Svend Asmussen, who played with all the jazz greats: Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Stuff Smith and Herbie Hancock. I used to say Svend was prejudiced toward Black people.
The court decision in Minneapolis made me cry. I put on “At Last,” sung by Etta James, and sobbed. America, you did the just thing at last.
Ellen Bick Asmussen, Dronningmølle, Denmark, and Sarasota
Change how high court justices are chosen
I believe the next Supreme Court justice should not be picked by the president.
There should be a blue-ribbon committee made up of legal scholars – the best of the best.
They would nominate one or two nonpolitical legal scholars. Those nominees would go to the Senate for debate and confirmation.
The Supreme Court today is a joke. No matter the subject, the decision is almost always 5-4. How can that be? Politics.
Also, age 75 to 80 is enough time on the bench. Times change and the court must keep up with that change.
Politics must be taken out of court decisions. Enough is enough.
Don Criola, Venice