Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Scholars, Scribes and Trail Blazers

After six weeks of researching my ancestry, the thought occurred to me that I had been reading 500 years of family history and women were rarely mentioned other than being "the wife of" or "mother to" someone important. This realization was timely. My friend, Christine is currently trailblazing around the US representing the GRAMMYs as the first Madame Chair of the GRAMMYs. Last week she was in Washington DC where music and politics united at The Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards.
On April 2 in Washington, D.C.
In honor of her support of music creators,
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
accepts the GRAMMYs on the Hill Award
from GRAMMY winner Dionne Warwick
and Recording Academy Chair, Christine Albert

Meanwhile back at the ranch, in Austin, I have been taking it easy, drinking tea on my couch, totally immersed in my research. While tracing the route of the Fajardos from Spain to New Mexico , I discovered Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo (1730-1806) a journalist who wrote one of the most important newspapers in Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. Born in the Canary Islands, there is a street named after him in San Cristobal de la Laguna, in the northern part of the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo 

"El Pensador" or The Thinker" weekly, was an example of the spirit of the Enlightenment. The work of Lanzarote José Clavijo y Fajardo was printed and distributed in Madrid between 1763 and 1767. Each issue was devoted to a specific thought. Clavijo Fajardo described himself as a spectator of the social reality and offered his opinion in his publication.

"The Thinker" by José Clavijo y Fajardo 
As I drifted off to sleep after a long day of research, thinking about the scholar and scribe, Clavijo Fajardo, I laughed to myself remembering that I too was a scholar and scribe. No really! For 7 of the 15 years that I worked at the Austin American Statesman, I was a journalist, artist, page designer, teacher and tour guide in the Newspapers in Education Department. I published a weekly full page for children called "Scholar and Scribe." Looking back, I am amazed at the multi-tasking the three of us women had to do. We had a program called "Partners in Literacy" in which local businesses sponsored classrooms with newspapers every Wednesday to do their lessons from. I took children on tours of the newspaper and we had teacher workshops to teach them how to use the newspaper in the classroom. I designed and published the work books that were used in the classroom and one of my co-workers had to sell the full page ad on the back of my page to sponsors to keep it alive. I was the first person to design a website for the Statesman called NIE Statesman and the website still exists!
This was a year after I started working
at the Statesman,
AKA Christina Ethridge,

my ex-husbands surname. 
I fell asleep remembering once again that it is no wonder most often women don't end up in the history books, throughout the ages we most often did the most profound work with children or as the support for our husbands. Who takes notice until one of them does something amazing? I have observed that when famous people are interviewed, they always thank a special person in their life, whether it be a parent, grand parent or a teacher or their significant other, there's always a special person who took the time to teach them and support them. And when they are asked what they are most proud of they often say "My children."

So today equal admiration goes to my friend Christine who is paving the way for female musicians who come after her and on the other end of the spectrum, to my cousin, Kathy Fajardo, who is a special needs teacher in Dallas. Christine will be remembered by thousands as the trailblazer and Kathy will be remembered by many as that special person who made the difference in their life. May you both have an army of angels on your amazing journey.

...and for icing on the cake.... during my research, I discovered that one of my all time favorite actors, Javier Bardem is from the Canary Islands! He starred in two of my favorite movies! He played Felipe in "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts and in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.

Javier Bardem

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