Stories by Monica Medina
For Vickie E. Turner, becoming a lawyer wasn’t a childhood dream, but as an accountant for the Las Vegas Gaming Commission, she felt that something was lacking and wanted more. Then a friend told her he was heading to San Diego for law school. The thought intrigued her, so she went along, figuring she'd just test the waters.
Most people seem to have a phobia about rats, and that's just what the boys in M. Eloise Battle's school were counting on the day they tossed a large, dead one right into her bicycle basket. Battle, who was in the seventh grade at the time, didn’t notice at first, but when she did see the specimen in her basket, she exclaimed with glee, "Oh boy! I can practice mounting this!"
The Montford Point Marines are a little known part of U.S. military history. Born out of necessity, when African American men were first drafted to serve in World War II, the legacy of the Marines who trained at Montford Point in North Carolina is a mirror of the times, back when segregation and discrimination were par for the course.
True heroism. You can see it in their hands, brown and weathered. Their long fingers, slightly bent from the weight of the load they've had to carry. It's in their faces too, which exemplify a quiet dignity, and in their eyes, which glisten like gems from beneath the Pacific. An homage perhaps, to their time in Hawaii, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa. The crevices that line their faces and their somber, knowing smiles reveal a measure of the life they've lived.
Rose-Margaret Orrantia has spent a lifetime working to help American Indian children in the foster care system. After all, helping children is where her heart has led her. And helping to place these children in American Indian homes has been her way of giving back to her community and ensuring its future.
On a bright and clear weekend morning in early October, there’s a flutter of activity at San Diego’s Tecolote Nature Center as staff get ready for an annual family activity, “Baskets and Botany.” The one-day event, which has been held there since the mid-'90s, is a day for families to share the environmental and cultural connections of Tecolote Canyon.
The world is filled with injustice. All you need do is pick up a newspaper or go online and you’ll find a litany of human rights violations—victims of torture and kidnappings, people being sent to prison camps by their own government, women suffering untold abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers while authorities look the other way, and children being forced into labor and prostitution. Here in San Diego, Chilean-born Fabiola Navarro sees fighting such human rights violations as a life-long cause.
As a kid from New York, you could say I grew up in the wings of the Broadway stage. After all, my mother took me to see many a Saturday matinee of Broadway’s best. By the time I was 12 I had seen my fill. “The Sound of Music,” starring Mary Martin, “My Fair Lady” with Julie Andrews, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” with Robert Morse, and “Fiddler on the Roof,” starring the incomparable Zero Mostel, to name just a few.
There are little girls who dream of princesses, playing with friends, or discovering a new and exciting book. And, there is Sophak Yem. What she longed for were gooseberries, a bright green berry that grows wild in Cambodia and has a particularly tart taste. Gooseberries. How she loved them when served with a mixture of salt and chili mixture. For Yem, a 2013 Asian Pacific Heritage Month Local Hero honoree, growing up in a Cambodian concentration camp, gooseberries represented one of the few joys in her young life.
Elmer Bisarra learned early on what was expected of him. As the son of a Filipino father and a Chinese Hawaiian mother, he knew that the man is supposed to be the provider for his family, and that women serve best as educators, healers and nurturers. He remembers how this belief was embedded in his culture, passed down to him by his parents.
Listen to klezmer music and it will harken you back to another time. Rich with tradition, the haunting melodies are a testament to the Jewish people and all they’ve endured throughout the course of history. To me, klezmer has the capacity to reach into our hearts and stir us to feel its beauty and soul.
Whenever tragedy strikes, in any part of our country, it affects us all. We go into shock, disbelief, sadness and grief. We become riveted to our television sets, radios, computers, and smart phones, craving every bit of news available. And, the horrors of the day are played over and over until they become embedded in our hearts and minds.
What does evil look like? Just ask Frank Meeink, who became a skinhead at age 13, and spent years struggling with the demons inside him—the ones that caused him to pick fights for no reason, sometimes beating his victims senseless. It took incarceration to help him turn his life around, a life that was captured in the film, American History X.
I was but a little girl when I started hearing the first rumblings of the Feminist Movement. As I grew older it was fascinating to see it all unfold—from the Feminine Mystique, to the protests and marches on the nation’s capital, to Erica Jong’s best-selling book, “Fear of Flying,” and to the launch of Ms. magazine, and my very first copy at the age of sixteen.
San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood is home to one of the largest Somali populations in the nation. Many arrived here as refugees in the early 1990s, during a time of civil war strife in Somalia. One of those who settled here at that time is Amina Sheik Mohamed. Today she is manager of the African American Campaign for the Network for a Healthy California operated locally from the University of California, San Diego. She is also a 2013 Women’s History Month Local Hero honoree.
This year’s Black History Month is nearly over, but I hope you’ll take a moment to think about what honoring the historic contributions made by African Americans is all about. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Black History Month with your family, look no further than your own kitchen. Here’s an easy recipe for Shrimp and Grits that looks mouth-watering delicious.
Max Disposti oozes boyish charm, right down to his robust, Italian accent. Meet him and you’re immediately caught up in his genuine enthusiasm and zeal for all he’s been able to accomplish here, in San Diego. For Disposti, his achievement amounts to having created a center for the LGBT community in North County, the first of its kind for the area
KPBS and the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum partnered to host a special One Book for Kids event for local children. The festivities included a short presentation by the authors of "Armando and the Blue Tarp School," who explained how the book is based on the true story of David Lynch and the school he created on a blue tarp, by the Tijuana city dump.
Many years ago, in the early days of public television, there was a man known to kids simply as Mister Rogers. For over 30 years, Mister Rogers would start his show by entering a living room, wearing a suit jacket. He’d walk to the closet and switch it out for a cardigan sweater, all the while singing, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
This Thanksgiving, Professor Patricia A. Dixon has much to be thankful for. “I think I was lucky. I had great parents, and good teachers throughout my life. I had far more good teachers than bad teachers. I was encouraged to read and to dream and I was taught to work hard.” And, though she does plan on celebrating Thanksgiving with her family this week, there’s one aspect about the holiday that’s off the table.
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