Forum to highlight defense of transgender rights

By Jennifer McClain A forum to draw attention to the need to safeguard newly won transgender rights will be held Wednesday,  Feb. 21  at 7 p.m. at the First Parish Church  in Malden. Sponsored by  Freedom for All Massachusetts, the forum aims to build support for Bill S.735, which went into effect in October, but is now facing a repeal drive. Bill S.735, which was passed with a supermajority of votes in both legislative chambers, expands protections against discrimination for transgender people and allows transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. While Gov. Charlie Baker was cheered by many when he signed Bill S.735 in May 2016, opponents of the legislation immediately began organizing to put a repeal of the law on a state-wide ballot in November 2018. Opponents include groups such as the the Massachusetts Family Institute,  which has attacked the bill with statements such as, “What we have today is the sacrifice of common sense and the abdication of responsibility by both houses of the legislature and now […]


75th anniversary of Maplewood Theatre fire

By Jennifer McClain Movies were magic in December 1942. Bette Davis and Gary Cooper were superstars; the Academy Awards were handed out for both black and white and color films. Disney’s sophisticated animated film, “Fantasia,” hit the screens that year. Women’s eyebrows were perfect, sharp dark lines and men’s suits were fitted and double-breasted. This was also the year that film screenings ended on Lebanon Street in Malden — at least for a short time The night of December 18, 1942, was very cold and the sidewalks were icy and dangerous. Despite that, the Maplewood Theatre was packed. Was it because the theater was playing “Kitty Foyle,” the film that gave Ginger Rogers a Best Actress Oscar? The class-crossing romance started a whole new dress style known as the “Kitty Foyle Dress.” Or was it a packed theater because many there had dreams of rising above their class status by competing in “Bank Night.” “Bank Night” contributed to the ability of the film industry to survive during the Great Depression. This was an ingenious idea […]


Movie Review: The Malden man and his Wonder Women

Film Review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote; directed by Angela Robinson By Jennifer McClain In 1948, a German born psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham began his crusade against comic books. While treating juvenile delinquents, he found them reading comic books and decided that comic books caused delinquency.  This was a typical, correlation implies causation argument, proven false years later by Carol Tilley.  However, a number of community leaders did rally against comic books,  gathering them up in wagons, and burning them in huge pyres. A scene of this destruction opens the recently released  Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,  a cinematic romp into the man who inspired the heroine featured in this summer’s blockbuster, Wonder Woman. The camera then zooms in on a man looking sadly at a burning Wonder Woman comic — this is  the subject of the movie, William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman and a graduate of Malden High School as well as the inventor of the lie detector.  Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t depict Martson’s […]


RESPOND highlights domestic violence in Malden

By Jennifer McClain A vigil to highlight the problem of domestic violence was held Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 in the newly built Malden Police station’s community room, a place created to make the police more “accessible and transparent,” in the words of Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis. The vigil was held by the domestic violence agency RESPOND in collaboration with the Malden government, Malden police and the Malden Zonta club. “Today’s vigil is certainly a time to reflect and remember those who have lost their lives but it is also a time to raise awareness on this topic,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, one of the officials and community leaders who attended.  Christenson praised RESPOND for being  “a pioneer in the movement to end domestic violence.”  RESPOND “is New England’s first domestic violence agency and the second oldest in the nation,” the mayor said. Christenson also said it was important to recognize the successful joint effort of the Malden Police force and the community organizations in concert with local Malden city government. Christenson noted that, in […]


The Malden man behind the Pledge of Allegiance

By Jennifer McClain Down an unassuming street in Malden behind the Malden Court House is the home of the, some say contested, author of a work that is both inspiring and divisive.  Even beyond the nature of the work is the controversy over its origins. Who wrote it and what does it mean? These are questions have been pondered since the words were published in 1892. The man believed to  be the author  of “I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag” is James Bailey Upham, who died in 1905 and is buried here in Malden. Upham, who was born in 1845, lived  on Lincoln Street in Malden and was an active member of the First Baptist Church. Most scholars  attribute the Pledge to minister Francis Bellamy. In Malden, however, there was no doubt that the author of the pledge was Upham. It’s been a point of contention over the decades. What is uncontested is this: The pledge — in an early form — was first published in the magazine Youth Companion on Sept. 8, 1892. Youth Companion was, in the […]


Wonder where she came from?

By Jennifer McClain She has one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Her past is a combination of Greek myth and Amazon speculation. Her future is traveling three thousand per hour on an invisible plane, wielding a “magic lasso” that non-violently compels obedience and she uses science for medical healing. Wonder who she is? Wonder Woman — the super heroine who debuted in DC Comics in 1941, who had her own TV show from 1975-1979,  and who took theaters by storm this summer in a blockbuster movie. But who was her creator? He was also a man with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. His past was as a student of the Malden High School. Did he possibly study mythology in one of his classes? His future was “to fight for liberty & freedom for all women kind” through Wonder Woman. He watched the suffragists and used their imagery in his stories. He knew Margaret Sanger when she was a proponent of birth control and still […]


Is violence against women linked with other violent crime?

By Jennifer McClain The March terrorist attack in Westminster in London raises the question:  Is there a connection between domestic violence and lone wolf terrorism attacks?   The wife of Khalid Masood, the perpetrator in the Westminster attack, was reported to have fled his violent attacks. Or consider the recent shooting of Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives, by a man who had been  involved in several acts of domestic violence. Attacks on female partners are often viewed as an issue of “domestic violence.”  In June, Malden was shocked by the case of  Malden resident, Ryan Power, who is accused of strangling his girlfriend, Leah Penny, a mother of seven, in her home with a dog leash. Power had been previously arrested for pushing Penny, the mother of his two children, to the ground.  Likewise James T. Hodgkinson, the accused Steve Scalise shooter, had been arrested for  attacks against women, including his girlfriend and his daughter.   Domestic violence is not only a serious problem but may be a predictor of future violence.  Ryan Power, for […]


Making Malden Pedestrian Friendly

By Jennifer McClain “They don’t care if they run you over” is one of the statements I’ve heard about traffic on the Fellsway East Road from Malden residents in my neighborhood. Many Malden residents feel the increase in traffic on their roads in recent years has made it less safe for them to walk in their own neighborhoods. A recent land use survey completed by the Urban Land Institute and the recent boon in construction have made many Malden citizens rethink how they want to “shape the city for years to come.” The Urban Land Institute was commissioned to provide leadership in the responsible use of land for Malden and Everett and was “charged to focus on the unique and growing issues of industrial land development in metropolitan Boston’s urban core.” This reshaping could be an opportunity to improve Malden’s pedestrian environment and to make walking safer for the community.  Other cities, such as Minneapolis, can provide a blueprint of how a community can learn to leave the cars at home and get people on […]


History has a way of repeating itself

If it hadn’t been for Pokemon Go, I would have walked past the Burial Ground on Lebanon Street. Instead, I explored the Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground, which I soon found out is the second oldest Jewish cemetery established in Massachusetts and the only cemetery in Massachusetts with predominately children buried in it. (http://www.jcam.org/Pages/HCBG/). My curiosity was sparked, and I began to research the history of the cemetery. And here I found some parallels to today’s events. I found that a recent controversy over a Muslim cemetery in Dudley, Mass., mirrored the same prejudices in Malden in the 19th Century. It was evident in the language found in both situations. In Dudley, David Boeri of NPR noted “the raw language of some of the small town’s residents brought accusations of religious bigotry”. http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/03/03/dudley-muslim-cemetery-permit This same conclusion could be drawn in the language of an article found in the Malden Evening Mail about the Jewish cemetery in Malden. When you visit the Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground you find plaques explaining its history and the controversy over the […]