My Grandpa is celebrating his 97th birthday today because he knew how to type. He was a very young high school typing teacher when the U.S. became involved in World War II. He, and another young man from Udall, Kansas, got off the train in New York City with thousands of other newly enlisted young men from the midwest. No sooner did then get off the train, a Colonel yelled at the top of his lungs, “Raise your hand if you can type!” My Grandfather raised his hand, and nudged his Kansas friend to do the same. “Come with me.” The coronel said. With that one stroke of luck, or skill, my Grandpa spent World War II in Puerto Rico, typing documents for the Coast Guard. He survived, and now I exist. For many of my generation and younger, the agony and lessons learned from World War II, are very “text book” in nature. That shouldn’t happen, so I’m honored to share the following press release from Michael Korenblit:

“Visualize a map of the United States of America.  Go up the east coast to Vermont, then come down to Rhode Island and move way across the U.S. to Montana, then come back southeast and picture our great state of Oklahoma.  Imagine not a single living human being alive in any of those states; that is six million.  Picture driving up from Texas, down from Kansas, across from Arkansas and New Mexico and not seeing a single human being in this state.  That’s what six million is.  That is the number of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.”   With this statement, Mike Korenblit gives a visual image of a number that is next to impossible to imagine.

Mike is co-author of UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, the true story of his parents, Manya and Meyer Korenblit, who are Holocaust survivors.  He speaks throughout the United States in high schools, universities and teacher conferences, about the lessons of the Holocaust and how it relates to issues of today.

Michael KorenblitMike remembers well a pair of water fountains in a park and the bus station in Ponca City.  It was there, at a very early age, that his father, Meyer, taught him about prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.  He showed his son the fountain for “coloreds” and the one for “whites.”

“My dad told me, ‘Always remember what I have shown you here today.   That is the reason you don’t have grandparents, aunts, uncles and lots of cousins; because people looked at them as being inferior and less human than others’,” Mike says during diversity assemblies.  “Remember the Nuremburg Laws – Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow Laws – United States of America.  Two different countries, two different peoples, two different victims- the same bigotry!  Always be vigilant.  Never allow your community, your state or country to pass any law that takes away the rights of any human being, no matter their difference.

Mike and his wife, Joan, are the founders of the Respect Diversity Foundation (RDF), a non-profit, tax exempt organization with educators who are artists, authors, human rights advocates, musicians, historians and more.  They teach respect and tolerance for all people no matter their differences through diversity seminars and workshops.

We are so very thrilled to have Michael Korenblit as the key-note speaker for Enid Pride this year. So, for those of you who were asking for more information about him, this article is for you. I hope you can join us on Saturday, September 22nd at Government Springs Park and you can come hear his riveting story in person. If you would like to help support Enid Pride, you can email us at enidpride@yahoo,com or go to our website at enidlgbtcoalition.org. And happy birthday Grandpa!