The 16th all-Sokol slet (gathering) begins in Prague next Sunday and will bring together thousands of people from the Czech physical fitness organisation, which was founded in 1862. Among those attending the week-long jamboree – which this year celebrates the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia – will be hundreds of members of American Sokol. Its president, Chicago-based Jean Hruby, stopped by at our studios ahead of the big event.
One hundred years ago this autumn, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk stood atop the stairs of Independence Hall in Philadelphia – where both the American Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were adopted – to proclaim the creation of a new sovereign state, Czechoslovakia. But the seeds of liberty first took firm root in the spring of 1918 with the May 31st signing of the “Pittsburgh Agreement”, a memorandum of understanding between the Czech and Slovak immigrant communities to create an independent republic.
An annual showcase of contemporary Czech films called Czech That Film is currently underway across the United States. The festival is the largest Czech cultural event in the country and offers both Czech expats and local film enthusiasts a unique chance to get acquainted with present-day Czech cinematography.
The Prague-born rock musician and songwriter Ivan Král turned 70 on
Saturday. Král emigrated to the United States with his family in the 1960s
and became involved in New York’s punk scene in the following decade,
performing with an early incarnation of Blondie and becoming bassist with
the Patti Smith Group. He later played guitar with Iggy Pop.
In the 1990s Ivan Král released solo albums with some success in the Czech Republic and produced a number of Czech musicians. He continues to reside in the US.
Zuzana Wienerová emigrated to the United States in the 1960’s with her late husband, RAF pilot and World War II hero Jan Wiener. Mr. Wiener was imprisoned by the Communists for five years after returning from Britain. We spoke today about their romantic love story, their life in the U.S. and the challenges they faced. I first asked her how she and her husband met.
Artist Sonya Darrow spends her time in the Czech Republic and in Iowa, two places where she feels at home. Her interesting exhibition “Stezky/Pathways” recently opened at the American Center in Prague. I spoke to her about how she explores the questions of identity and cultural connections though her work and started off by asking her how she become involved in the Czech community.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that there are some million and a half Americans of Czech ancestry (and about 300 thousand more who declare Czechoslovak ancestry). Although few of them still speak the language of their forefathers, they still keep their traditions alive. Vít Pohanka visited some of the Czech communities in Oklahoma.
Some Czechs abroad have already been voting in the presidential polls.
In the United States, Czechs could vote from Thursday 8 pm Central European time. Voting is possible in person in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Interest in the vote is said to be higher than in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament.
The Czech consul in Washington said around 1,000 Czechs were registered to vote with participation at around 70 percent. Many can also cast correspondence votes.
From Praha to Prague – Czechs in an Oklahoma Farm Town is an ethnic history by historian Philip D. Smith published this year by the University of Oklahoma Press. As a history, it provides fascinating insight into the life of Czech settlers in the US state of Oklahoma in the late 19th century. During a land run in 1891, they settled in an area they named after the Czech capital and began new lives, assimilating into the dominant culture but never losing their pride in their own cultural identity. The historian told me much more about emigration to
Martina Formanová, the wife of the famous Czech director Miloš Forman, was recently in Prague to launch an audio version of her novel, called Případ Pavlína, or Case Pavlína. The book, which was released a few years ago, tells the story of the Czech-born 1980’s super model Pavlína Pořízková and her family’s dramatic escape from Communist Czechoslovakia.