Finneran: America The Backward…………
Friday, April 21, 2017
A woman wanted to run the Boston Marathon. That simple fact, a perfectly understandable desire for human achievement, was deemed by some troglodyte men to be an unpardonable sin. To those of us who have either run or observed recent Marathons it seems utterly inconceivable that such a desire was seen as tantamount to treason.
Such were the times. Such was America.
The Boston Marathon back then was an exclusively male event. The controversial running pioneer was Kathrine Switzer. The forever notorious troglodyte was Jock Semple, President of the Boston Athletic Association. Ms. Switzer, now age 70 and very much alive and well, ran the Marathon again last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of her first run. Mr. Semple is long dead………as is his view that marathons were a for-men-only event.
I pray that Mr. Semple is properly mourned by his friends and family. Not so his view that there was no place for women in Boston’s premier running event. Pity today’s troglodytes as those dashing Kenyan women come sprinting over the hills and dales of Boston. Pity still more the trogs when the stunning Uta Pippig won three Boston races in a row.
Today, America’s major institutions and events are, as often as not led by women as by men. That obvious and utterly routine fact was not always the case. Consider education, healthcare, transportation, banking, government, finance and industry as just a few of the arenas which women have entered and in which they have excelled.
And America is the better for it. We no longer deprive ourselves of the collective skill and ability of half the population. That we ever did so deprive ourselves of such talent is indeed startling to consider.
Equally sad, equally stupid, and especially criminal was the outrageous treatment of black Americans. As if slavery itself was not one of the cruelest crimes of all time, the original sin was compounded by the viciousness of Jim Crow and the indifference of many.
A poignant story is told about Lee Elder, a highly skilled African American professional golfer. Having endured every slight, every insult, and every indignity that twisted minds could imagine and impose on his career, he trembled as a young Tiger Woods came to Augusta and dominated the Masters in historic fashion. Up until Elder himself had won a qualifying tournament, the only black folks allowed at the Masters were caddies.
Upon the occasion of Woods’ fabulous win, Elder wept. Certainly there was joy in Elder’s heart for the racial breakthrough he had witnessed. But there was also a deep sadness, an eternal regret about what might have been for countless others who were never given a chance. His tears were not the tears of a child. His tears were tears of a hard and cold wisdom, bearing the bitter knowledge of daily discrimination as practiced by a depraved chunk of humanity.
Such were the times. Such was America.
Demographers inform us that black Americans make up about twelve percent of America’s population. Common sense would tell us that the exclusion of one of every eight Americans was depriving us of a lot of talent.
Consider baseball as a fair indicator. As great as Ruth, Gehrig, and Cobb were, their statistics were inflated by the relative inferiority of their opponents. They faced no Bob Gibson, no Don Newcombe, no Pedro Martinez in the days of their domination. Just a quick scan of the post-season black barnstorming teams of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s is like a private tour of Cooperstown. Willie Mays. Ernie Banks. Newcombe. Roy Campanella. Stellar talent up and down the lineup. Oh what might have been……..
America, land of the free and home of the brave, has grown up. No longer backward and now eagerly looking for talent, we scoff at the class and caste systems of old. Long overdue no doubt, but be you man or woman, black or white, young or old, should you bring talent to the table today, America will bring its many gifts to you.
Such are the times. Such is the nation.
Related Slideshow: Women Leading in Rhode Island
Who are some of Rhode Island's high-level female bosses? GoLocal takes a look at some of the leading women in the state in their respective industries, in the private and nonprofit sector.
The founder and Creative Director of Alex and Ani, Rafaelian started the company in 2004 to produce jewelry to “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.”
Prior to founding Alex and Ani, Rafaelian produced designs for and co-owned Cinerama, her father’s jewelry manufacturing company. Now, in addition to Alex and Ani, Rafaelian owns Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, and the café franchise Teas and Javas. Rafaelian received the 2012 Rhode Island Small Businessperson of the Year Award as well as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the products category for New England.
Merchant is the CEO and President of Hope Global, an engineered textile solutions company centered in Cumberland with plants and sales offices all over the world.
Merchant began her career as a production supervisor at General Motors, then worked at Mazda, Ford Motor Company, and Lear Corporation, and managed manufacturing plants in Mexico, Canada, Poland, England, and America.
In addition to her work with Hope Global, Merchant is an active member of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Commodores, and the Governor’s Economic Development Council, and is a trustee of Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Snead is the CEO of Banneker Industries, Inc., a supply chain management company in North Smithfield that has performed e-procurement, assembly, packaging, inventory management, warehousing and distribution services since its founding in 1991.
Snead has served as state delegate on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and received the 2009 New England Businesswoman of the Year Award and Women Business Enterprise National Council Star Award, among numerous others in year prior. She now serves on the Board of Directors of AMICA Insurance Company and is a member of the Rhode Island Commodores.
Zimmerman is the CEO and Chairman of the Board for FarSounder Inc., a Warwick based company specializing in sonar technology and born of Zimmerman’s achievement in the 2002 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
Since its inception, the company’s sales have grown exponentially and it has expanded to different markets within the nautical navigation industry.
Previously, Zimmerman has run numerous other businesses including a company for wholesale book selling and one for engineering services.
The nineteenth President of Brown University, Paxson had previously served as Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Chair of its economics department, as well as Director and founder of an NIA Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging.
Paxson is an expert in public health, having conducted research on childhood health, AIDS in Africa, and Hurricane Katrina, among other topics.
White, the President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, previously served as its Senior Vice President, and an executive counselor to the Governor in policy and communications. She is dedicated to strengthening the business community in Providence with focus on employment and retaining young, talented professionals to work in the state.
Dr. Carriuolo is the ninth President of Rhode Island College. She has previously served as the Director of the Office of School/College Relations at NEASC and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences the University of New Haven.
She has written over thirty publications, featured in, among others, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Education Week. In 2009, she was named a CLADEA fellow, and she has served on the boards of many organizations, including the Journal of Developmental Education and New England Dollars for Scholars.
Lapides is the co-founder, President, and CEO of Rhode Island real estate firm Residential Properties.
Lapides has been quoted in many local and national publications as a real estate specialist. During her career, Lapides has served on the boards at the RISD Museum, Roger Williams University, Smith Hill Center, and Trinity Repertory Company, among others -- and as Chair of the Board of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Action Campaign Committee, helped raise a million dollars for the Fund for the LGBT community.
Pattie, the CEO and President of BankNewport and OceanPoint Financial Partners, MHC, began her career with the bank in 1984 as a consumer loan officer, rising through ranks and across different areas of expertise.
Pattie is a board member of the United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Bankers Association as well as a trustee of the Community College of Rhode Island. She is also a certified financial planner and a member of the Board of Governors for Newport Hospital.
Coxe is the Executive Director and CEO of the Preservation Society of Newport County. Before holding this position, Coxe served as the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Save the Bay, and Director of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Coxe has received numerous awards for her business success, including the 2011 Business Women Award for Overall Career Achievement from the Providence Business News. She also does extensive volunteer work, including sitting on the boards of Grow Smart Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Commodores. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Conservation Law Foundation and the Alumni Board of the Wheeler School.
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