To commemorate his life and inventions, George Washington Carver Recognition Day is celebrated on Jan. 5, the anniversary of his death. Born into slavery in Missouri in the ﬁrst half of the 1860s, Carver earned renown as the "plant doctor" and “King of Crops,” who revitalized Southern agriculture through research, education and diversiﬁcation.
Carver is enshrined in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. As director of agricultural research at Alabama’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute to which he was invited in 1896, Carver recognized that the continuous cultivation of single crops such as cotton and tobacco had seriously depleted soils throughout the South. Carver advised farmers to plant peanuts, soybeans and other legumes that could restore nitrogen to the exhausted soil, as well as to plant sweet potatoes.
In seeking new uses for the crops, Carver came up with 325 derivative products from peanuts, including cheese, milk, coffee, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils and cosmetics, according to wired.com. He also developed 118 sweet-potato products: flour, vinegar, molasses, ink, synthetic rubber, postage-stamp glue, etc. He developed another hundred products from another dozen plant sources.
“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world,” he is quoted as saying. He was praised by, collaborated with and was sought by such industrial giants as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison for his scientiﬁc contributions and cooperative demeanor, and criticized by some Black leaders for what they considered deference bordering on subservience.
Carver died on Jan. 5, 1943, at Tuskegee Institute, at 78 years old. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington on the Tuskegee Institute grounds. During the 79th Congress, Public Law 290 was passed to designate Jan. 5 of each year as George Washington Carver Recognition Day.
ANOTHER NEW YEAR SWEEPS INTO VIEW
New Year’s celebrations swept across the globe, ushering in 2023 with countdowns and ﬁreworks – and marking an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy and global worries over inflation.
The new year began in the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati in the central Paciﬁc, then moved across Russia and New Zealand before heading deeper, time zone by time zone, through Asia and Europe and into the Americas.
New York City joined the glow of the new year with a dazzling Saturday night spectacle in iconic Times Square, anchoring celebrations across the United States. The night culminated with a countdown as a glowing geodesic sphere 12 feet (3.6 meters) in diameter and weighing almost six tons descended from its lofty perch atop One Times Square. The ball’s surface was comprised of nearly 2,700 Waterford crystals that ofﬁcials said were illuminated by a palette of more than 16 million colors.
At the stroke of midnight, a ton of confetti rained down on revelers, glittering amid the jumbo screens, neon and pulsing lights.
Last year, a scaled-back crowd of about 15,000 in-person mask-wearing spectators watched the ball descend while basking in the lights and hoopla. Because of pandemic rules, it was far fewer than the tens of thousands of revelers who usually descend on the world-famous square.
Before the ball dropped, there were heavy thoughts about the past year and the new one to come.
“2023 is about resurgence – resurgence of the world after COVID-19 and after the war in Ukraine. We want it to end,” said Arjun Singh as he took in the scene at Times Square.
MIGRANT WAVE IN KEYS A CRISIS, SHERIFF SAYS
At least 500 migrants have arrived in small boats along the Florida Keys over the last several days in what the local sheriff’s ofﬁce described on Monday as a “crisis.” Economic turmoil, food shortages and soaring inflation in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean is spurring the most recent wave of migration. Over the weekend, 300 migrants arrived at the sparsely populated Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Key West. The park was closed so that law enforcement and medical personnel could evaluate the group before moving them to Key West, the park tweeted.
Separately, 160 migrants arrived by boats in other parts of the Florida Keys over the New Year’s Day weekend, ofﬁcials said. On Monday, 30 people in two new groups of migrants were found in the Middle Keys.
In a news release, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay criticized the federal response to the uptick in migrant arrivals, saying they were stretching local resources. U.S. Border Patrol told the sheriff’s ofﬁce that the federal response to some of the migrants arriving may have to wait a day, the news release said.
U.S. Border Patrol and Coast Guard crews patrolling South Florida and the Keys have been experiencing the largest escalation of migrations by boat in nearly a decade, with hundreds of interceptions in recent months, mostly of people from Cuba and Haiti.
BUTTS OUT ON MIAMI BEACH PUBLIC BEACHES, PARKS
Miami Beach residents and visitors are going butts out as the city’s new smoking ban took effect at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day in all municipal parks and public beaches.
“Our beautiful beaches and parks just got a little more pristine,” observed Miami Beach City Commissioner Alex Fernandez, who sponsored the measure. “We want our residents and visitors to continue to enjoy our beaches without having to worry about cigarette butts and the microplastics contained within them, which pose a serious threat to seabirds, sea turtles and other marine life.”
"Smoking" is deﬁned by the ordinance as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, carrying, or possessing any lighted tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and any other lighted tobacco product with the exception of unﬁltered cigars.” The new ordinance carries a $100 ﬁne or up to 60 days in jail for the ﬁrst violation within a 12-month period.
In preparation for the implementation date, the city launched an educational marketing campaign dubbed “#NoFilter.” All city beaches and parks will incorporate new signage alerting residents and visitors to the ban.
BIDEN PARDONS 6 CONVICTED OF MURDER, DRUG CRIMES
KINGSHILL, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) – President Joe Biden has pardoned six people who have served out sentences after convictions on a murder charge and drug- and alcohol-related crimes, including an 80-year-old woman convicted of killing her abusive husband about a half-century ago and a man who pleaded guilty to using a telephone for a cocaine transaction in the 1970s.
The pardons, announced Friday, mean the criminal record of the crimes is now purged. They come a few months after the Democratic president pardoned thousands of people convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law. He also pardoned three people earlier this year and has commuted the sentences of 75 others.
The White House said those pardoned are people who went on to serve their communities. It said the pardons reflect Biden’s view people deserve a second chance.
REED NEW BETHUNE-COOKMAN FOOTBALL COACH
Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed has agreed to become the football coach at Bethune-Cookman and is leaving his job with the Miami Hurricanes, the schools announced.
Reed played at Miami and spent the last three years in an administrative role with the Hurricanes, ﬁrst as chief of staff under former coach Manny Diaz for two years and this past year as a senior advisor under coach Mario Cristobal.
Reed will replace Terry Sims at Bethune-Cookman. Sims was ﬁred after going 3839 in seven seasons, and when the school made that move Wildcats athletic director Reggie Theus – the longtime NBA player – said he would be looking to hire someone who can “ensure that we not only build a championship culture on the ﬁeld, but also aspire to academic excellence and career achievement off the ﬁeld.” The move will inevitably spark comparisons to the move Jackson State – also like Bethune-Cookman a historically Black college and university – made when it brought in Deion Sanders to lead its program. Sanders went 27-6 in three seasons at Jackson State before getting hired earlier this month to take over at Colorado.
There are no shortage of parallels: Sanders and Reed are both Super Bowl champions, both won NFL defensive player of the year awards, both were two-time consensus All-Americans in college, both are members of the College Football Hall of Fame and both have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And now, Reed will get his chance to lead an HBCU back to prominence. Bethune Cookman claims three HBCU national championships, the last of those coming in 2013.
Reed was a ﬁve-time All-Pro safety, a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year and made nine Pro Bowls. He had 64 career interceptions, led the league in that stat three times and scored 13 non-offense touchdowns in his career with the Baltimore Ravens.
“It would be hard to argue that he’s not the greatest safety in the history of football, right?” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in 2019. “He’s one of the top 10 players maybe in the history of the game.”
At Miami, Reed was part of the Hurricanes’ most recent national title team in 2001. He set school records for career interceptions (21) and interception return yards (369), won a Big East championship in javelin in 1999 and graduated with a degree in liberal arts.
MARKER TO MEMORIALIZE TAYLOR, JUSTICE PROTESTS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – An historical marker has been unveiled in Kentucky that memorializes the death of Breonna Taylor, the ensuing racial justice protests that swept the city and two other deaths related to the demonstrations, ofﬁcials said. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer attended the unveiling of the marker in Jefferson Square Park last Wednesday with family and friends of Taylor, David McAtee and Tyler Gerth, a statement from his ofﬁce said.
The marker is labeled “2020 Racial Justice Protests” and says the park became a rallying place for those demanding justice after Taylor was killed during a police raid at her apartment in March 2020.
“Protesters called this space `Injustice Square Park’ and held demonstrations that drew global attention,” the marker says.
Racial justice protests were held in cities across the county fueled by the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Taylor in Louisville and others. The Louisville marker also notes the deaths of David McAtee and photographer Tyler Gerth, who were killed in incidents related to the protests.
“The marker will in no way diminish the tremendous pain that they suffer still,” Fischer said, “but we believed it was critical that we acknowledge the history behind the tragedies of 2020, the resulting demonstrations, and reason for the important reforms and policy changes that resulted and are still underway.”
PRINCETON PLANS TONI MORRISON TRIBUTE IN 2023
A monthslong Toni Morrison tribute at Princeton University, where the Nobel laureate taught for 17 years, will range from music created and performed by Grammywinning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant to a spring lecture series and three-day symposium featuring author Edwidge Danticat, among others.
The tribute will center on “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory,” an exhibition drawn from her archives that will explore her creative process through manuscripts, correspondence between herself and other Black women, photographs, maps she drew while working on her acclaimed novel “Beloved,” rare drafts of her novel “Song of Solomon” and various unﬁnished projects. The exhibit runs at the Princeton University Library from Feb. 22 to June 4.
“In imagining this initiative, from exhibition to symposium to partner projects, I wanted to show the importance of the archive to understanding Morrison’s work and practice. But I also wanted to show how this archive in particular is a site that opens up new lines of inquiry and inspires new kinds of collaboration,” said curator Autumn Womack, assistant professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton, in a statement released Wednesday.
Morrison, who died in 2019 at age 88, was also known for such novels as “Sula,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Jazz.” She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993.
CONTRASTING VIEWS ON BENEDICT XVI’S LEGACY In the United States, admirers of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI remembered him warmly for his theological prowess and devotion to traditional doctrine. However, some U.S. Catholics, on learning of his death Saturday, recalled him as an obstacle to progress in combating clergy sex abuse and expanding the role of women in the church.
Professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, depicted Benedict as “a man of unwavering faith, deep conviction and towering intellect,” yet added that he left “a complicated legacy.”
She noted that last February, following a report that implicated him in the coverup of sexual abuse during the years he served as Archbishop of Munich, Benedict “acknowledged his failure to act decisively at times in confronting sexual abusers.” Steven Millies, a professor of public theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, noted that Benedict – before becoming pope – had a lead role in enforcing church discipline at a time when the sex-abuse crisis was making headlines in the U.S. two decades ago.
“When he was elected to succeed John Paul II as pope in 2005, Benedict XVI was the person who was most knowledgeable about clergy sexual abuse.” Millies said via email. “Yet, the crisis continued to fester throughout Benedict’s papacy past his resignation in 2013 and even today.”
Millies suggested that Benedict’s most important legacy was his resignation, arising from “his recognition that he could not ﬁx the abuse crisis or accomplish much else in the face of the deeply entrenched power of the Vatican’s centralized bureaucracy.”
HISTORIC TERMS AS MICHIGAN OFFICIALS SWORN IN Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was sworn in for second term as the state’s 49th governor on Sunday, pushing a message of unity and working together during remarks on the state Capitol steps as Democrats took full control of the state government for the ﬁrst time in 40 years.
Whitmer, the state’s ﬁrst female governor when elected in 2018, won reelection in November by defeating Republican Tudor Dixon by nearly 11 percentage points. Alongside her on Sunday were other top Democratic leaders, including newly reelected Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
History was also made Sunday on the state’s Supreme Court as Kyra Harris Bolden was sworn in as the ﬁrst Black woman to serve on the high court after Whitmer appointed the former state senator in November to replace retiring Justice Bridget McCormack. Bolden also administered Whitmer’s oath of ofﬁce.
During her inauguration address, Whitmer pledged to pursue “common sense” gun reform, continue investing in K-12 education, improve worker rights, lower taxes for the state’s retirees and tackle climate change, adding that she would provide more speciﬁcs in her upcoming State of the State speech.
“For the next four years, our task is to ensure that every Michigander, present and future, can succeed,” Whitmer said to the nearly 1,000 people in attendance. “And our message is simple: We’re putting the world on notice that your future is here in Michigan.”
With a newly powerful Democratic caucus, Whitmer faces a test of delivering on years of promises in a swing state where Democrats must appeal to more than just their base or risk losing their majorities when the Legislature is up for grabs again in two years.
Whitmer acknowledged several Republican legislative leaders and promised throughout her speech to work across the aisle and with “anyone that wants to solve problems and get things done.”
Michigan Democrats ofﬁcially took control of the state House and Senate at noon Sunday after winning slim majorities and flipping both chambers in November’s election.
Newly selected Democratic leaders in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and House Speaker Joe Tate, joined the governor in stressing the importance of bipartisanship during their speeches.
“A stunning opportunity stands before us to work together like never before across legislative chambers and alongside the executive branch,” said Brinks, who was selected as the Senate’s ﬁrst female majority leader in December.