50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer, 4th of July, and Why I am Proud to be an American

I wanted to write about my country today. It’s taken me all day to write this blog post, but I think it’s important. My parents and my grandma voted in the election last Tuesday and we are going to celebrate America’s birthday on the 4th of July this Friday. But there is something else too. For the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of stories on the news about the Mississippi Freedom Summer. My parents have also been watching programs about it on t.v. The other night, my brother and I watched one of them and I learned that Mississippi Freedom Summer happened over a period of ten weeks in the summer of 1964. During this time, more than 700 students from around the United States volunteered to work with civil rights organizers and local African-Americans in the fight to rid the nation of white supremacy and racism. It took place in one of America’s most racist, segregated states in the south – Mississippi.

During the summer of 1964, all of these people came to Mississippi in order to register blacks to vote. If black people were allowed to vote, then they could vote for different leaders who were not racist and didn’t believe in segregation, but wanted all people to be equal. Black men won the right to vote in 1870, because of the passing of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution; but for the next 100 years many were unable to exercise their right to vote. White officials and leaders kept black people from voting by making them pay poll taxes and making them pass literacy tests, even though a lot of black people could not read for reasons due to racism. They also scared black people away from voting. They beat them, lynched them, and killed them. There were a lot of other racist things going on in society too, but civil rights leaders thought that if black people could only vote then they would be able to change things.

Freedom Summer volunteers and civil rights activists were threatened and harassed by white supremacist groups and local residents, but also by the police, who should have been protecting them! School buildings, the houses where the volunteers lived, 37 black churches, and 30 black homes and businesses were firebombed or burned during that summer! Most of the time, whoever did it was never found and punished. More than 1,000 black and white volunteers were arrested, and at least 80 were beaten by groups of white racists or even police officers. The worst thing that happened though was the murder of three young civil rights workers. One was a black volunteer named James Chaney, and the other two were white volunteers named Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. On June 21, 1964, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner went to go investigate a church bombing near Philadelphia, Mississippi. They were stopped by the police and arrested for no reason at all. The police held them for several hours on fake traffic violations. They released them at night and it was the last time they were seen alive. Their bodies were found under a dam six weeks later. They had been shot and beaten to death.

The murders made it into newspapers all over the country. Lots of people became interested in civil rights and began to support the Civil Rights Movement. All of this happened fifty years ago this summer! Things got better. The Civil Rights Movement changed American history and the lives of every black person in America. It makes me sad and mad to know what went on during that time and how black people were treated in my country, but I feel good that things are different now. The President of the United States is black, you know! That makes me proud! The rest of my blog today will tell you all of the reasons that I am proud to be an American.

As an eleven year old girl living in the United States, I am proud to be an American. As Americans we have certain advantages over other countries that make us different. For example, we do not have a dictator; we elect our leaders like the President of the United States. As American citizens, we have certain rights granted to us in the United States Constitution such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Another very important advantage to being American is school. All American citizens have the right to a free public education.

In the United States of America we elect out leaders. We are a democracy, which means that we the people have a say in our government. This is true whether it is the local school board all the way up to the President of the United States. We participate in our government through voting and electing leaders. Regular citizens can even run for office! We are allowed to contact our leaders and tell them what we think about how they are doing their jobs and what kinds of things we would like for them to do. In many other countries, such as Cuba, China, North Korea, and Syria, just to name a few, citizens do not have these rights. The countries that I named are dictatorships, which mean that you have no say in anything at all! Not only do they not allow their citizens to vote and elect their leaders, you cannot speak out against the leaders if you do not like what they are doing. It can get you put in jail or even killed. Many of these dictators will be put into power and they will stay there until they die. In America, we have a choice. If we do not think our leaders are doing a good job, we have the opportunity to elect someone new the next time. Amendment 22 limits the term of our President to two so that somebody else can have a chance to be President.

There are twenty-seven Amendments to the United States Constitution. The first ten are called the Bill of Rights. These Amendments put into America’s defining law what our rights as citizens are. Amendment 1 gives us freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. We can practice whatever religion we want because we have the freedom to do so. In some countries, people are persecuted for not practicing the religion that the government says is the best or in some places, the government won’t allow its citizens to practice any religion at all. Freedom of speech means that we can say whatever we want to without fear that we will be harmed if somebody gets angry or has a different opinion. This freedom also means that we can speak out against our leaders or our government in order to make it better. Freedom of press means that we can print just about anything that we want in the newspaper, as long as it’s true. In other countries, especially countries with dictators, people can get in big trouble for doing these things, maybe even killed.

In America we have the right to an education that is free so that all of our citizens can go to school and have good lives. Our government doesn’t just provide this; it requires it because it wants a country of educated citizens. If we choose, we can go to private school, religious school, or be home schooled. That is what is so great about America; we have the freedom to choose. We can go to school no matter the color of our skin (Amendment 15). Women can also be educated and have the right to vote (Amendment 19). In October 2012, a 15-year-old girl in Pakistan named Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school. She was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. The reason was because she wanted to go to school. In her country, she stood up for the right of women and girls to have an education in her country. She lived and has become a symbol all over the world of fighting injustice in countries that do not respect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. In America, I can go to school without fear of being hurt because I am a girl.

And something else that I talked to my parents about that makes me proud to be an American and to be a citizen of, in my opinion, what is the greatest country in the world is that in American we learn from our mistakes, we change, and we grow. On Monday, January 20th, 2014 we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American who stood up for what he believed. He fought for equal rights for African Americans in the 1950s and the 1960s when American wasn’t quite so free for everybody. He fought against segregation and wanted equality for all people. He was eventually killed because so many people didn’t like what he was saying and fighting for. But in the end, our government changed. Our citizens worked together to make this happen because more and more people began to realize that Dr. King was right and that in America we had to do something different. And we can’t forget all of the volunteers that worked for voting rights for black people during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, who were also responsible for changing our country for the better.

It is because of them that I can attend school and sit next to other kids who do not have the same skin color as me, but we can still be friends and get a good education, no matter our religion, no matter our race. And because of that I am proud to be an American and live in a country where I can be truly free. Thanks for reading my post. It’s something different than fashion and dance for a change. Please come back soon.

American Flag

The American Flag – Happy Birthday America

Outfit of the Day – Relaxin’ on a Sunday!

I had a busy weekend.  Dance rehearsal for Disney on Friday afternoon, then over to a friend’s house for a sleepover for her birthday.  More dance rehearsal on Saturday morning, then over to another friend’s house for a swim and tie dye party!  Super tired when I got home last night – I slept in today and had a relaxin’ Sunday around the house.  See my outfit for hanging out at home.

IMG_1037 IMG_1038

Hanna Andersson Geo Playdress in Grape Juice (old)

Microfiber Capri Tights in Yellow – Hanna Andersson (old)

Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars in Purple (old)

Allegiant Book Summary

Allegiant Book Title: Allegiant

 Author: Veronica Roth

 Illustrator:  None

The book Allegiant is written from the perspective of Tris and Tobias. News comes and the Divergent are wanted out of the city. The leader of the Factionless, Evelyn Johnson, wants to be leader of the city. She also wants everyone to live under her rules and act as equal factionless citizens. Factionless and former faction members do not get along at all. Evelyn ends up getting kidnapped by the Allegiant who want to leave the city and re-start their old way of life.

Tris’ brother, Caleb, is put on trial for helping Jeanine. Tris doesn’t forgive her brother for his betrayal even though he’s sentenced to death. The Allegiant plan to send a group outside the city and Tris volunteers to go if Caleb goes also. Tobias breaks Caleb out of jail and they leave with Tris, Christina, Cara, Uriah, Tori, and Peter.  While driving they meet a woman named Zoe and a man named Amar.  Zoe and Amar take the group to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, where they meet Tori’s brother and are tested to verify and study their Divergence.  Tris learns that she is truly Divergent but Tobias learns that his genes are still ‘damaged’.  Tris is taken to David, the leader of the Bureau, to find out about her mother. He gives Tris her mother’s journal.

Nita, who is also genetically damaged, asks Tobias to join her rebellion. She tells him that the Bureau is lying to everyone and she intends to demonstrate that the genetically pure are flawed as well.  Nita and her allies attack the compound and Tris saves David from being shot by Nita. She stops the attack and Nita is placed in prison.

After the attack, Tris becomes a member of the Bureau’s council. In her position, she is told about the events taking place in the city. David decides to use the memory serum to wipe the memories of the people in the city. Already angry about what David wants to do, Tris also learns that the Bureau created the serums which led to the destruction of Abnegation and the enslaving of the Dauntless. Tris and her friends begin to create a plan to save her city. The group decides to break into the Weapons Lab and use the memory serum to wipe the memories of the Bureau. They learn that the lab is protected by a death serum. Caleb volunteers to break into the lab and asks Tris if it will make her forgive him for everything he has done. She says yes.

Tobias, Christina, Peter, and Amar plan to go into the city to protect their loved ones against the serum. Christina gets serum doses that will counteract the memory serum. The group plan to inject themselves with it. Tobias notices that Peter only pretends to inject himself with the inoculation serum.  Peter wants his memory to be erased. Christina gives an extra vial of the memory serum to Tobias. He is supposed to use it against either Marcus (his dad) or Evelyn (his mom) in an effort to end the conflict in the city.  Tobias meets with his mother and asks her to drink the serum to end the fighting and become his mother again.  She refuses. They meet with Johanna and Marcus to iron out an end to the conflict. On the way out of Erudite headquarters, Peter wants to take the memory serum to become a new person. Tobias gives Peter the serum, erasing his mind for good.

Tris decides to carry out the mission instead of allowing Caleb to do it. She hopes that her resistance to serums will include the Death variant. Tris destroys the entrance to the Lab and is exposed to the death serum, but she survives. At the lab, David tells Tris that he noticed she was colluding with the genetically damaged.  Since he is determined to keep the order, David shoots Tris. She still manages to release the memory serum. After being shot by David, Tris sees her mother reach out for her and she accepts her mother’s embrace. Tris succumbs to her wounds and dies. Tobias, Peter, and Christina return to the compound and are told about Tris’ death. Tobias is angered by the fact that Tris died for Caleb even after his betrayal. Caleb tells Tobias that Tris never wanted to leave him. Uriah, who has been shot, was taken off of life support and Tobias blames himself for Uriah’s death. He returns to his home in the old Abnegation sector and cuts his hair.  Tobias decided to use the memory serum on himself to forget Tris and Uriah. Christina convinces him not to use it for Tris’ memory sake.  Tobias agrees and decides against it. Two and a half years later, former faction members, factionless, compound members, and other outsiders move in and out of Chicago.  The city is at peace. Tobias accepts everything he has been through and reflects on his belief that while life damages everyone, over time people can always be mended.

Insurgent Book Summary

Insurgent Book Title: Insurgent

 Author: Veronica Roth

 Illustrator:  None

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent trilogy.  Tris Prior is continuing to try to unlock her past about her mother. She is also still trying to figure out her Divergence. All she knows is that she is different because she falls into many factions not just three. She learns that they are so called, “dangerous” and they need to be killed. She gets to see what’s outside of the fence that has been keeping her city in since after the war when the factions were created. War is now high among the factions. She travels to Amity with her friends to meet up with other survivors. Amity states that all factions can stay there as long as they live in peace. Traitors from other factions come to Amity to fight. Tris, Four, Caleb, and Susan leave Amity to go to a factionless safe zone. They find Four’s mother, Evelyn, who happens to be the factionless leader. She tries to convince Four that his faction needs to join the factionless.

Tris and Four travel to Candor headquarters and get arrested. They are put on trial. During the trial, Four admits that he was going to leave Dauntless to be factionless. Tris admits that she shot Will. Candor is attacked and all of the Divergent are captured. The Dauntless traitors plan to take two of the Divergent back to Erudite headquarters and execute the rest. Tris injures the Dauntless leader Eric and the other Dauntless stop her from killing him. Following the attack, the Candor leader arranges a meeting with the Erudite. The Erudite, represented by a Dauntless traitor Max, demand that Candor turn over Eric, the Divergent, and a list of others. Tris and her friends escape the Dauntless traitors but are captured by Jeanine. Peter helps them escape.

Four, Tori, and Harrison are elected as new Dauntless leaders. They put Eric on trial for his crimes. He is convicted, and Four kills him. The Dauntless return to their headquarters, and Tris and Four meet with Evelyn and Edward. Four makes an agreement with the factionless to destroy the Erudite and establish a new government.

Tris walks to the Erudite headquarters in order to stop them from wanting to kill all the Divergent. She agrees to an MRI and several simulations. She sees Caleb, who is now working for Jeanine, and is shocked at his betrayal. One evening, Tris encounters Four in the hallway, and discovers that he tried to save her. They are taken to the execution chamber, where Tris is injected with a terror-inducing drug so that Four will give up the locations of the factionless safe houses.  But no drugs can control Tris. Since nothing works on her they plan to kill her.  Peter helps Tris and Four escape from Erudite.

Tris learns about her family history and plans to get important information that was stolen. The information will be transmitted to all of the factions. Tris leads a group to infiltrate the Erudite headquarters so they can transmit the information to other factions. Tris finds Jeanine’s laboratory with the information. She also finds Tori trying to force Jeanine to acknowledge that she killed her brother who was a Divergent. Tris explains that they need Jeanine so that they can obtain the information from her computer. Tori still kills Jeanine.

Tori calls Tris a traitor and attempts to have her taken into custody. Four’s mother announces the institution of a new factionless government and society. The Dauntless begin to protest but remember that their weapons have been taken by the factionless.  Screens in the room begin to play the information retrieved by Four and Caleb: an old video featuring a woman named Amanda Ritter. She explains that the world became corrupt after genetic engineering narrowed people’s personalities. She also said that the faction system was supposed to be a cure to the corruption, because it would help society regain the moral sense it had lost. The city was to be sealed and when those identified as Divergent had increased in numbers, the Amity were to open the fence and the population should re-enter the world. When the video is over, everyone erupts..

Divergent Book Summary

Hi everybody, I’m back!  I’ve been gone for a couple of days because I’ve been busy dancing and getting ready to go to Disney World next month.  My studio is dancing in Downtown Disney!  Me, my mom, dad, sister, and brother are all going for a week-long family vacation.  I can’t wait.  In the meantime, how about another book summary?  I promise you’re gonna love it.

Divergent Book Title: Divergent

 Author: Veronica Roth

 Illustrator:  None

Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian Chicago world.  Society is divided into five factions. They were created after the war to keep peace among the people.  The five factions are Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.  The Abnegation faction is made up of people who are selfless.  They wear gray and they eat plain food, they dress plain, and they are never conscious of the way they look.  They don’t even use mirrors.  Amity is the peace faction. They wear red and yellow and are farmers.  Candor is the honest faction.  They wear black and white and are truthful about everything!  The Dauntless are the brave.  They wear black and they are thrill seekers.  They get tattoos, jump trains and climb buildings.  Last are the Erudite who are the intelligent faction.  They wear blue. Beatrice was born Abnegation and she lives with her parents and her brother, Caleb, who is just a few months older than her.  On the day of the Choosing Ceremony all sixteen year olds must choose the faction that they will devote the rest of their lives to.

Everyone fears betraying their parents by not choosing their family’s faction, but they are also afraid of becoming factionless.  The Factionless live in poverty.  They are homeless and live on the streets.  But there is also something called Divergent.  The Divergent are not a faction; they are different.  They are made up of characteristics of all the factions and people think they are dangerous to society, especially the Erudite, who want to exterminate the Divergent.  Beatrice undergoes lots of different tests to figure out which faction she would best fit into.  She found out that she fit into a lot of the factions.  The teacher, Tori, figures out that Beatrice could be Divergent.  Eventually, Beatrice chose Dauntless and Caleb chose Erudite.  Although Beatrice chooses a different faction from her brother and the rest of her family she is still somewhat happy, but scared out of her wits.  Her parents are devastated, however.  She changes her name to Tris and she meets Four, who is her teacher.  Four is Divergent.  After she chose Dauntless, she took even more tests to figure out what her fears were and Four was coaching her.  He discovered that she was Divergent, but told her that he would keep it a secret.  Then they became boyfriend and girlfriend.

The leader of the Erudite was named Jeanine.  Jeanine wanted to kill all of the Divergent.  Jeanine formed an army and decided to inject everybody with a serum to see who is and isn’t Divergent.  After being injected, the Erudite would give a series of commands.  Those that didn’t talk and followed the commands obediently were not Divergent.  Those who stayed conscious and alert after being injected with the serum were Divergent.  Tris stayed alert and Jeanine discovered that she was Divergent.  Jeanine started a war to kill all the Divergent.  She also noticed that most of the Divergent came from the Abnegation faction, so she thought they were messing everything up and wanted to kill them too.  Tris fought in the war.  She makes new friends and also enemies, but she still manages to survive the torture and pain she has to endure trying to escape Jeanine’s war against the Divergent.  Who doesn’t know that Divergent is a major motion picture that came out this past spring starring Shailene Woodley as Beatrice? My sister took me to see it over Spring Break.

If you are one of the two people left on earth that hasn’t seen the movie, I recommend that you go see it.  The movie was AWESOME, but the book is even better!