Immigrants Of The Day: John Muir of Scotland, Sonja Henie of Norway, and Patrick Ewing of Jamaica
John Muir (Scotland)John Muir (1838–914) was one of the first modern preservationists. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, and wildlife, especially in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, were read by millions and are still popular today. Muir's activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His writings and philosophy strongly influenced the formation of the modern environmental movement.
John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland. Arriving in San Francisco in March 1868, Muir immediately left for a place he had only read about called Yosemite. After seeing Yosemite Valley for the first time he was captivated, and wrote, "No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite," and "[Yosemite is] the grandest of all special temples of Nature." After his initial eight-day visit, he returned to the Sierra foothills and became a ferry operator, sheepherder and bronco buster.
Muir today is best known as a great lover of nature, and was affectionately called the "Guardian of the Yosemite" and the "Naturalist of the Sierras." But aside from being a naturalist, Muir was a geologist, an explorer, philosopher, artist, author, and editor. For an obituary, click here.
For a volume that includes many of Muir's writings, see John Muir : Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Essays by John Muir (William Cronon, editor).
Over 200 photographs of Muir, most from the John Muir Papers, are held at the University of the Pacific.
April 21, 2008 | PermalinkSonja Henie (Norway) Sonja Henie (1912-1969) was a figure skater and actress. She was three-time Olympic Champion (1928, 1932, 1936), ten-time World Champion (1927-1936), and six-time European Champion (1931-1936). Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other women figure skater. At the height of her acting career she was one of the highest paid movie stars in Hollywood.
Henie was born in Kristiania, currently Oslo. She won her first major competition, the senior Norwegian championships, at the age of 9. She then placed eighth in a field of eight at the 1924 Winter Olympics, at the age of eleven. In the next Olympics, Henie won the first of an unprecedented ten World Figure Skating Championships and her first Olympic gold medal the following year. She also won six consecutive European championships. She won her third Olympic title at the 1936 Winter Olympics.
Henie is credited with being the first figure skater to adopt the short skirt costume in figure skating, and make use of dance choreography. Her innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics. After the 1936 World Figure Skating Championships, Henie gave up her amateur status and took up a career as a professional performer in acting and live shows.
In 1936, following a successful ice show in Hollywood orchestrated by her father to launch her film career, she was hired by Darryl Zanuck at Fox Studios with a contract that made her one of the highest-paid actresses of the time. After the success of her first film, One in a Million, Henie's position was assured.
In 1938, Henie published her autobiography. She retired from acting in 1958 with the film Hello, London, which was never released.
Henie became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1941. She died at age 57 in 1969. Considered by many as one of the greatest figure skaters in history, she and her husband are buried in Oslo on the hilltop overlooking the Henie-Onstad Art Centre.
April 22, 2008 | PermalinkPatrick Ewing (Jamaica) Patrick Ewing (born August 5, 1962) is a retired hall of fame professional basketball player. He played most of his career with the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks. In 1997, Ewing was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time. On April 7, 2008 he was elected to the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Ewing was 13 years old when he arrived in the United States with his family, settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He learned to play basketball at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and went on to play at Georgetown University.
As a freshman during the 1981-1982 season, Ewing became one of the first college players to start and star on the varsity team as a freshman. In the 1983-84 season, Ewing and Georgetown took the NCAA title with an 84-75 win over the University of Houston. Ewing was one of the best college basketball players of his era, as Georgetown reached the championship game of the NCAA tournament three out of four years. He was a first-team All-American in 1983, 1984, and 1985.
Although injuries marred his first year in the league, Ewing was named NBA Rookie of the Year, averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Soon after, he emerged as one of the premier centers in the league. Ewing enjoyed a successful career; eleven times named a NBA All-Star, once named to the All-NBA First Team, six times a member of the All-NBA Second Team, and named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team three times. He was a member of the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympic Games. In 1996, he was also given the honor of being named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Ewing announced his retirement on September 18, 2002. In 2003 Ewing's jersey number 33 was retired in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden. He continues to be considered the greatest player in the Knicks' storied history, as well as one of the greatest in NBA history.
In 1999, Ewing became the 10th player in NBA history to record 22,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. In 1993 he led the NBA with 789 defensive rebounds. He was top ten in field goal percentage 8 times, top ten in rebounds per game as well as total rebounds 8 times, top ten in points, as well as points per game 8 times, and top ten in blocks per game for 13 years. For more about Ewing's NBA career, click here.
April 23, 2008 | PermalinkThese posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.
Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog .
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.