Bock Marks Heart Date

As February’s observance of National Heart Month draws to a close, we salute an area resident who definitely has “heart.”

This month, retired educator Jim Bock is marking the 11th anniversary of his heart transplant. He and his wife Kathy reside in St. Clairsville.

Bock was employed for many years in the Ohio County school system, serving as a teacher and principal. Later, he worked for the YWCA Wheeling.

The success of transplantation for Bock — and for a special person who is very dear to me — demonstrates the importance of organ donation. Please sign up on the organ donor registry in your state. The gift of life can save many lives.

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Irish historian Christine Kinealy gave an excellent presentation on former slave Frederick Douglass’ transformative four-month stay in Ireland when she spoke Tuesday at the Ohio County Public Library’s Lunch With Books series.

While discussing the horrid crime of lynching, Kinealy played a recording of singer Billie Holiday performing the famous song, “Strange Fruit.” However, a minor technical glitch delayed the playing of the song for a few minutes.

Kinealy, a native of Ireland, quipped, “We have a saying in Ireland, ‘Technology is like Guinness: it doesn’t travel well.'”

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Kinealy, who has been based in the United States since 2007, told the Wheeling audience that it was her first visit to West Virginia.

Noting that St. Patrick’s Day is approaching in March, she joked, “It’s not just a day. It’s St. Patrick’s Month.”

Kinealy’s presentation, though, was part of the Lunch With Books observance of Black History Month.

She said only four countries in the world observe Black History Month. The United States and Canada celebrate in February, which is the month in which Douglass was born and died. Ireland and Great Britan designate October for their observance.

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Kinealy is the director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. In 2018, the institute opened a special exhibit, “Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Black O’Connell.”

That exhibit remains open. It has attracted many notable visitors, including members of Douglass’ family, as well as former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

To coincide with the exhibit, a statue of Douglass is now on display on the university campus. The statue, measuring 9 feet by 9 feet, is too large to fit into the institute’s building, so it is displayed in the university’s law school, Kinealy said.

The statue, designed and made by a sculptor in England, was displayed in Ireland during President Obama’s 2011 visit to that nation.

While most images show Douglass as an older man, this statue is “full of life” and depicts him at age 27, which is when he made his first trip to Ireland, she said.

In response to an audience member’s question, she confirmed that Douglass was the most photographed man of the 19th century.

“He (Douglass) regarded photography as a form of democracy,” she commented. “He used this new development in photography as a tool to spread his message.”

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The Irish historian also is the editor of a new book, “Frederick Douglass: In His Own Words.”

Kinealy, who earned a doctorate at Trinity College in Dublin, said she spent about 10 years tracking down Douglass’ speeches. During his first visit to Ireland, he gave approximately 50 lectures, mostly on slavery and some on temperance, she said.

“He was such a gifted orator and, as we’ll see, totally self-taught,” Kinealy said at the opening of her talk.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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