Donald Donny York

Donald Donny York

Happy birthday
March 13, 1949
Donald Donny York
York patiently signing more than a few albums for a fan at an airport

There have been many many members of Sha Na Na over the years, but Donny is one of the only two originals who still remain in the group.

Donald Donny York

Social media footprint

I’ve done many little pieces about the performers at Woodstock, but Donny York is the only one I’ve found a Linked In page for. Under Education, he lists the following:

  • B.A., liberal arts, political science,   – 
  • Transformed the King’s Men into Sha Na Na
  • Activities and Societies: King’s Crown Activities

His Facebook page expands upon his personal information:

  • Studied Political Science at Columbia University
  • Went to Borah High School (Boise, Idaho)
  • Lives in Midlothian, Virginia (though it seems he’s back west now)
  • From Boise, Idaho
  • Married to Lily Grace
Donald Donny York

Pat Boone

Donald Donny York

In addition to his years with Sha Na Na, he worked with Pat Boone on his 2006 memoir. Of that he says: “For me, getting this gig was a case of “Wait until the folks back home find out about this!” It was like the gig of a lifetime—even measured against the great gigs I’ve already stumbled into in places like Woodstock or in cinematic majesties like Grease. I appeared in them, along with other worthy young talents by the dozen. But I’m the only guy who assisted Pat Boone in the preparation of his definitive autobiographical career memoir. Back home they’ll be more impressed about my affiliation with Boone than they were about Woodstock or Grease, and they’ll probably have gotten it just about right. (Think effect on history, as opposed to reflection of it.)

IMDB: He is an actor, known for The Fall Guy (1981), Sha Na Na (1977) and Festival Express (2003).

Here’s a YouTube “video” which is simply an audio recording of Donny describing the beginning of Sha Na Na and more.

Donald Donny York

USSR Dissolves

USSR Dissolves

Long live our Soviet motherland,
Built by the people’s mighty hand.
Long live our people, united and free.
Strong in our friendship tried by fire.
Long may our crimson flag inspire,
Shining in glory for all men to see.

The Red Menace

As Baby Boomers there was no greater enemy than the Soviet Union.   We stockpiled atomic weapons for the war that was sure to come. We put those weapons on top of rockets, in land bunkers, aboard submarines, ships, huge flying bombers, and secret places.

If a Boomer were a Catholic, then they prayed for the conversion of “Russia”  (easier than saying the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) at the end of every Sunday mass.

If we wanted to label something an enemy, we said the person was a Communist, a Red, a -nik.

We had to keep Communism contained despite its spread into so many countries: eastern Europe, Cuba, central America, Africa, South America, and Asia.

We sent thousands of our soldiers to Korea to stop the spread of Communism. We sent thousands of our troops to Vietnam to stop the spread of Communism. Our military budget, the largest of any nation anywhere, was predicated on stopping Communism.

USSR Dissolves

Birth of a Nation

On December 30, 1922 in post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.

The USSR eventually consisted of: Russia, Ukraine, Byleorussia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia,  Estonia, Moldovia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turmenia, and Tajikistan.

USSR Dissolves

Dissolution of a Nation

When it happened, it happened, ironically,  like the dominoes we had fought so hard to stop from happening.

The economics, the politics, the many pieces that led to the dissolution of the USSR are more than this blog can cover. Dates are easier to list.

These dates include the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from the countries of eastern Europe. Countries that while not officially part of the USSR, were satellites of the vast Union.

USSR Dissolves

Leaks in the dam

September 11, 1988: 300,000 demonstrate for independence in Estonia.

August 23, 1989: two million indigenous people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands to demand freedom and independence, forming an uninterrupted 600 km human chain called the Baltic Way.

August 23, 1989: Hungary (a Soviet satellite) removed border restrictions with Austria (a free European country)

September 10, 1989: thousands of East Germans cross the Austria-Hungary frontier after Budapest waived border restrictions amid the largest legal exodus from eastern Europe since 1945.

USSR Dissolves

Satellites waiver

The Wall Falls

November 9, 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall. East Germany’s communist government allowed all citizens direct passage to the west, rendering the Berlin Wall obsolete.

Czechoslovakia

November 17, 1989: riot police put down student protests against the communist government in Czechoslovakia. The incident started a series of non-violent protests that finally forced the communists from power two weeks later.

November 29, 1989: in response to a growing pro-democracy movement in Czechoslovakia, the Communist-run parliament ended the party’s 40-year monopoly on power.

Romania

December 15, 1989: a popular uprising began in Romania.

December 17, 1989: Timișoara Riot in Romania. Demonstrations in the city of Timișoara were triggered by the government-sponsored attempt to evict László Tőkés, an ethnic Hungarian pastor, accused by the government of inciting ethnic hatred. Members of his ethnic Hungarian congregation surrounded his apartment in a show of support. Romanian students spontaneously joined the demonstration which had became a more general anti-government demonstration. Regular military forces, police and Security fired on demonstrators killing and injuring men, women and children.

December 19, 1989: workers in Romanian cities go on strike in protest against the communist regime.

December 21, 1989: Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, spoke to crowd of the Socialist revolution’s chievements and Romanian “multi-laterally developed Socialist society.” Roughly eight minutes into his speech, several people began jeering, booing and whistling at him and shouting “Timișoara,” a reaction that would have been unthinkable for most of the previous quarter-century of his rule. As the speech wore on, more and more people did the same. He tried to silence them by raising his right hand and calling for the crowd’s attention before order was temporarily restored, then proceeded to announce social benefit reforms. The crowd continued to boo and heckle him.

December 22, 1989: the Romanian army defected to the cause of anti-communist demonstrators, and the government of Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena flee.

Berlin

December 22, 1989: Berlin’s Brandenburg gate is reopened.

USSR Dissolves

Ceaușescus executed

December 25, 1989: near Târgoviște, Romania the  Ceaușescus were court-martialled on orders of the National Salvation Front, Romania’s provisional government. They faced charges including illegal gathering of wealth and genocide. Ceaușescu repeatedly denied the court’s authority to try him, and asserted he was still legally president of Romania.

At the end of the quick trial the Ceaușescus were found guilty and sentenced to death. A soldier standing guard in the proceedings was ordered to take the Ceaușescus out back one by one and shoot them, but the Ceaușescus demanded to die together. The soldiers agreed to this and began to tie their hands behind their back which the Ceaușescus protested against but were powerless to prevent.

The Ceaușescus were executed by three of soldiers though reportedly hundreds of others also volunteered. The firing squad began shooting as soon as the two were in position against a wall. Before his sentence was carried out, Nicolae Ceaușescu sang “The Internationale” while being led up against the wall.

USSR Dissolves

Republics waiver

Lithuania

January 11, 1990: in Lithuania, 300,000 demonstrated for independence.

Armenia and Azerbaijan

January 16, 1990:  in the wake of vicious fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Azerbaijan, the Soviet government sends in 11,000 troops to quell the conflict.

The fighting–and the official Soviet reaction to it–was an indication of the increasing ineffectiveness of the central Soviet government in maintaining control in the Soviet republics, and of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s weakening political power.

Political power outage

February 7, 1990: the Central Committee of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party agreed to endorse President Mikhail Gorbachev’s recommendation that the party give up its 70-year long monopoly of political power. The Committee’s decision to allow political challenges to the party’s dominance in Russia was yet another signal of the impending collapse of the Soviet system.

Lithuania

March 15, 1990:  the Soviet Union announced that Lithuania’s declaration of independence was invalid.

May 4, 1990: Latvia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

One Germany

October 3, 1990: Germany reunited.

USSR Dissolves

August 1991 dominoes

Georgia

April 9, 1991: the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

Estonia

August 20, 1991:  Estonia declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Lativa

August 21, 1991:  Latvia declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Ukraine

August 24, 1991:  Ukraine declared independence from Soviet Union.

Belarus

August 25, 1991:  Belarus declares independence from Soviet Union.

Moldova

August 27, 1991:  Moldova declares independence from the Soviet Union.

Communist Party suspended

August 29, 1991: after three hours of anguished debate, the Soviet Parliament voted to suspend all activities of the Communist Party pending an investigation of its role in the coup. It was an action that confirmed the demise of the old regime even as the search quickened for new forms of association and order. The fate of the party was already sealed before Parliament’s vote. Individual republics had closed its offices and seized its vast properties and funds and President Mikhail S. Gorbachev had quit as its General Secretary and had called on the leadership to step down. But Parliament was the only national institution with the formal powers to act against the entire organization, and its decision served to confirm the indictment already passed by the people. [NYT article]

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

August 30, 1991:  Azerbaijan declared independence from Soviet Union.

Kyrgystan & Uzbeckistan
Uzbeckistan
Kyrgystan

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 31, 1991:  Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan declare independence from the Soviet Union.

USSR Dissolves

Final pieces fall

Tajikistan

September 9, 1991: Tajikistan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Armenia

USSR Dissolves

September 21, 1991:  Armenia declares independence from the Soviet Union.

Turkmenistan

USSR Dissolves

October 27, 1991: Turkmenistan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Kasakhstan

USSR Dissolves

December 16, 1991: Kazakhstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

Russia

USSR Dissolves

December 12, 1991: Russia independent

USSR Dissolves

The The End

USSR Dissolves

December 24, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of Soviet Union.

December 26, 1991: the official dissolution of the USSR.

USSR Dissolves

Treaty of Accession

April 16, 2003: 10 countries signed  the 2003 Treaty of Accession admitting them to the European Union (EU). After Malta and Cyprus, eight of the ten new EU nations (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) were former communist countries. The signing of the treaty in Athens marked the first time that former members of the Soviet Bloc joined the EU.

USSR Dissolves

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

January 2, 1884 – March 25, 1951

Oscar Micheaux, the son of former slaves, was born in Illinois and grew up in Kansas . When he was 17 he became a porter on the railway, but within a few years left the railroad and homesteaded in South Dakota.

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Homesteader to Author

He wrote about his farm life and  self-published The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer in  1913.  In 1915 he lost the farm.

In 1917 he again self-published a book, The Homesteader.  After a film deal fell through for the story, Micheaux decided to expand his publishing company. It became Micheaux Film and Book Company in 1919.

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Author and Filmmaker

The Homesteader film was the first film made by an African-American. It starred Evelyn Preer.

Unlike the white-controlled film industry which portrayed blacks with stereotypes, Micheaux’s films had black characters in mysteries, gangster films and westerns. His films were written, directed, produced and portrayed by predominately all black cast and crew.

In 1924 he introduced the movie-going world to Paul Robeson in the film, Body and Soul.

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Real characters

Given the times, his accomplishments in publishing and film are extraordinary, including being the first African-American to produce a film to be shown in “white” movie theaters. In his motion pictures, he moved away from the “Negro” stereotypes being portrayed in film at the time. Additionally, in his film Within Our Gates, Micheaux attacked the racism depicted in D.W. Griffith’s film, The Birth of a Nation.

The Producers Guild of America called him “The most prolific black – if not most prolific independent – filmmaker in American cinema.”

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Filmography

1919

* The Homesteader
* Within Our Gates

1920

* The Brute
* Symbol of the Unconquered

1922

* Gunaslaus Mystery
* Deceit
* The Dungeon
* The Virgin of the Seminole
* Son of Satan

1923

* Jasper Landry’s Will

1924

* Body and Soul

1926

* The Spider’s Web

1927

* Millionaire

1928

* When Men Betray
* Easy Street

1929

* Wages of Sin

1930

* Darktown Revue

 

1931

* The Exile

1932

* Veiled Aristocrat
* Black Magic
* Ten Minutes to Live

1933

* The Girl From Chicago
* Ten Minutes to Kill

1934

* Harlem After Midnight

1935

* Lem Hawkin’s Confession

1936

* Temptation
* Underworld

1937

* God’s Stepchildren

1938

* Swing

1939

* Birthright
* Lying Lips

1940

* The Notorious Elinor Lee

1948

* Betrayal

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Biography

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

In 2008, Patrick McGilligan published Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker.  McGilligan refers to Micheaux as, “…the Jackie Robinson of American film … a Muhammad Ali decades before his time” who “deserves to be considered in the same breath as the sainted D. W. Griffith.”

In his review of the book, Phillip Lopate is critical of McGilligan’s high praise for Micheaux’s work.  He wrote, “…we do a disservice to the achievements of truly superb black auteurs, like Charles Burnett, Spike Lee and Ousmane Sembène, by pretending Micheaux was a great filmmaker. The man had his own validity, as a pathfinder and as the creator of an intriguing, curious body of work, which reveals much about America’s past social and racial contradictions, and its melodramatic conventions.”

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Within Our Gates

Here is his “Within Our Gates” from 1919. It is the earliest known surviving feature film directed by an African American. The Library of Congress preserved it in 1993 from a single print found in Spain.

The story line is that a man abandons his fiance, an educated black woman.  She dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished negro youths.

Within Our Gates was created in response to The Birth of a Nation which depicted southern whites in need of the Ku Klux Klan to protect them from blood thirsty blacks.

Micheaux showed the reality of racism, where a black man could be lynched for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

Death

Micheaux died in Charlotte, North Carolina while on a business trip. His body was returned to Great Bend, Kansas, where he was interred in the Great Bend cemetery with other members of his family.

Black Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux

What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?

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