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FW: The Forgotten Helen Keller

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  • A.J. Wright
    fyi...here s today s entry in the daily Forgotten History mailings...ajwright@uab.edu P.S. I have removed the ads!! Forgotten History - Tuesday, April 9, 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2002
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      fyi...here's today's entry in the daily Forgotten History
      P.S. I have removed the ads!!

      Forgotten History - Tuesday, April 9, 2002
      "Little known facts and overlooked history"
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      The Forgotten Helen Keller
      By Denis Mueller

      Helen Keller is one of the most misunderstood women in his-
      tory. While we are familiar with her gripping story about
      how a deaf and blind girl overcame her handicaps, her adult
      life remains largely forgotten. Patty Duke won an academy
      award for her portrayal of Helen Keller in "The Miracle
      Worker." But much is left out. What schools don't speak
      about is her politics. She was a radical with a firm be-
      lief in social justice. One of the most effective forms of
      censorship is to omit what one finds troublesome. The story
      of Helen Keller demands a more truthful telling.

      Helen Keller was a radical socialist. She joined the Social-
      ist Party in 1909, but she had come to her radicalism before
      then. Her blindness, and work with the blind, taught her that
      blindness was not distributed equally throughout the popula-
      tion. Industrial accidents and poor conditions were the main
      cause. "I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowed slums.
      If I could not see it, I could smell it." When Keller became
      a socialist she already was one of the best-known women in
      the world. Her convictions created a hailstorm of controversy.
      Once admired by the press, she now was attacked and her hand-
      icaps blamed for her beliefs. The Brooklyn Eagle commented,
      "mistakes spring out of manifest limitations of her develop-
      ment." To which Keller replied, "Oh the ridiculous Brooklyn
      Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable
      system, a system that is the cause of physical blindness and
      deafness that we are trying to prevent."

      Helen Keller devoted her life to life to change. She helped
      found the American Civil Liberties Union. As a white women,
      who grew up in the South during the time when three black
      people were being lynched a week, she supported the NAACP.
      Helen Keller spoke out against the World War I and supported
      Eugene Debs in each of his campaigns for president. She
      wrote essays on the women's movement.


      In 1929, at the age of 49, she wrote her book Midstream. In
      it she described her philosophy, about how she had visited
      mill towns and met with strikers. She wrote of how she once
      believed that if one threw themselves into life's struggles,
      that they could overcome anything. She now said that she did
      not believe that anymore, "I learned that the power to rise
      in the world is not within the reach of everyone." Helen
      Keller's story is too often told as if her life stopped as a
      child. We are not presented with the adult Helen Keller, and
      quite interestingly, by that we drain the life out of her
      story. She becomes an icon without meaning. Her humanity is
      covered up and she is treated like a child. The real Helen
      Keller was much more complex and insightful. "Conclusions
      are not always pleasant," she once said. Sadly, neither are
      the losses to humanity from omissions of history.

      Sources: James Loewen: Lies My Teacher Told Me

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      A.J. Wright, MLS
      Dept of Anesthesiology Library
      School of Medicine
      University of Alabama at Birmingham
      619 19th Street South, JT965
      Birmingham AL 35249-6810

      205-975-5963 [fax]


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