Posts tagged “breaking barriers

Breaking two years of silence with updates galore!

Posted on November 28, 2023

I don’t consider myself an especially fearful person, but a couple of things do scare me.

They are (in no particular order):

  • Geese

I know these birds aren’t geese, but let’s just pretend like they are for the sake of this post.

  • And the question: “How come you haven’t updated your blog in a while?”

The latter terror is never something I can answer neatly and succinctly, but I usually have my convoluted reasons (I’m hiding from migrating geese, perhaps), and I usually decide those reasons are too boring or perplexing to spell out.

At any rate, fair reader, I apologize for not updating this space in more than two years. But I do have some exciting updates to share with you.

The first is about the U.S. Navy renaming a building for Raye Montague. In Overnight Code, Raye first started working for the Navy in Carderock, Maryland at a facility called the David Taylor Model Basin. The Model Basin is a 5/8ths of a mile long water tank where ship designers test how their models fare against a variety of conditions, be high winds or turbulent waves. Right across the street from the basin is a state-of-the-art conference building where top brass from the Pentagon and other VIPs meet to discuss various matters of national importance. Up until recently, this building was known as Building 40. But the Navy’s first female Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Lisa Franchetti, became fascinated by Raye Montague’s story and wanted to honor her in some way. Now, Building 40 is known as the Raye Montague Center for Maritime Technology, or The Montague Center for short. Outside of the sign that currently sits in front of the building, the Navy will be putting up letters on the center and staging an exhibit in the lobby about Raye’s impact on the Navy. Right now, there are plans for a formal ceremony sometime during the week of February 20, 2024.

In the meantime, check out this sign. Pretty sharp, no?

Photo courtesy of Kelly Stirling


The second bit of news is that Raye will be featured on one of the first two American Innovation dollar coins to be released by the U.S. Mint in 2025. The American Innovation Coin program, which began in 2018, features designs that honor an American innovation or invention from each of the 50 states, 5 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. To have Raye Montague and the Oliver Hazard Perry Frigate be part of a series that includes Edison’s light bulb, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the first human lung transplant is a thrill for the Montague family and one of many long-overdue honors for her. I’m so grateful to see that she continues to get her due!

Here’s a picture of the coin design so far:

Photo via Coin World


And here is Coin World’s recent story about Raye’s American Innovation Dollar design.

Raye was a humble soul, and whenever something good happened to her, she’d exclaim, “Can you believe it?” Right now, I feel like she’s up in heaven, playing bridge with the oodles of angel friends she’s made, just shaking her head in happy disbelief about all of this good news as she sweetly beats the pants off of her peers. As these stories have unfolded over the past month or so, her son David and I have exchanged our share of emails with his mom’s signature phrase.

Can we believe it, Raye? Absolutely.


In other news, some magazine stories I’ve written fairly recently:

A Nose for News: Award-winning television journalist Randi Kaye covers major news stories all over the Country, returning home to her penthouse oasis on Singer Island to recharge (for Jupiter Magazine).

Meet Inter Miami CF Striker Josef Martinez: Josef “El Rey” Martinez settles into his new home in the 305 – and dishes on the bright future of futbol in South Florida (for Aventura)

Paper Panache with Dreyfoos Design Students: Costume design teacher Penny Williams captures her students’ imagination with projects involving everything from Post-Its to wallpaper (for Palm Beach Illustrated)

Inside Jeff Corwin’s Wild, Wild World: The wildlife conservationist has a move to the area and a new network series aimed at preserving our state’s natural beauty in the works (for Jupiter Magazine)

Holding Court with Udonis Haslem: As the shot clock ticks down on his two-decades-long career with the Miami Heat, the legendary power forward and three-time NBA champion reflects on his journey, his legacy, and his next steps (for Aventura)

At Home with Tommy and Dee Hilfiger: The Hilfigers are creating an oasis in Palm Beach for themselves and their family, all while penning their next professional chapters (with the great Kristen Desmond Lefevre for Palm Beach Illustrated)

Raye Montague’s Struggle in the South

Posted on March 15, 2021

Last week, David Montague and I finished a run-through for a big virtual book talk we would be giving at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Downtown. The talk incorporated some archival items David and his family gave to the Center for History and Culture that are now on display. At the end of the run-through, UALR Downtown director Ross Owyoung asked us if we wanted to see the exhibit, and David and I both said yes, of course. So Ross grabbed his laptop (where I was connected via Zoom) and walked into the gallery with David.

At the time, the room’s walls were covered by a curtain, and as moving as it was to see Raye’s life in exhibit form, I wondered what the curtain concealed. So I asked Ross about it, and he asked me if I knew who Joe Jones was. I did not. Ross pulled back the curtain to show us the incredibly thought-provoking, 44-foot by 9-foot mural Jones painted called “Struggle in the South.” Completed in 1935, the mural is one of Jones notable protest works about the Jim Crow era, as it depicts black coal miners, sharecroppers and a lynching.

“I’m not interested in painting pretty pictures to match pink and blue walls,” Jones said in 1933. “I want to paint things that knock holes in walls.”

Without question, the mural — which has been lovingly restored by UALR — packs a punch. As David looked at it, and thought about it for a minute, he turned to Ross and said the mural shouldn’t be covered at all. After all, his mother’s life was part of the struggle Jones depicted, and so the two elements should be in conversation with each other, so to speak.

If you’re in Little Rock, I hope you can stop by UALR Downtown between now and March 31 to see what I’m talking about. Even if you miss the exhibit about David’s mom, this mural will remain in place, and is definitely worth your time.