Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, endangered koalas, crazy expensive shoes

Feb 16, 2022 Episode 86

History of Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, koalas on Australia’s endangered list, crazy rich people buy crazy expensive Nike shoes

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults!  I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.

MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt. Howdy, howdy.

LEELA: She’s from Texas.

MAMA: She’s half American –

LEELA: And half Indian.

MAMA: That’s why we live in India.

LEELA: And sometimes London.

MAMA: That’s why we like to stay up on what’s happening all over the world.

LEELA: Yup, this week on Newsy Pooloozi…

It’s Black History Month in the United States – we’ll tell you how it started and why it and why it’s so important.

Big news from down under – where koalas are being added to Australia’s endangered species list!

And, ever wanted to find out how to learn just about anything – from mastering the Rubik’s cube to making great food or even how to become a podcaster? Well, listen to the second half of this episode and we’ll tell you all and (and, by the way, it involves a big, fabulous freebie, so stay tuned!)

Finally, how much would you pay for a pair of shoes? Well, you won’t believe what some people will fork out for some fancy sneakers. 

Now let’s get started – first up it’s…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: February is Black History Month in the United States, the time when American schools, and media outlets, think back on the important, or just interesting, Black people who helped shape America.

LEELA: Why is there just one month to talk about important or interesting Black Americans?  Shouldn’t we be talking about them throughout the year?

MAMA: Yeah… that’s kind of what I say about Valentine’s Day – why is there just one day dedicated to saying, “I love you – have some chocolates!” But the sad fact is, there are soooo many Black Americans  who’ve been overlooked in history and discourse.

LEELA: Discourse?!

MAMA: You know, as in the public conversation, the things people talk about or what gets reported on –or what I like to call, the “chatosphere” – as in the stratosphere of chit-chat.

LEELA: Black people aren’t talked about?

MAMA: Well, they are more today, but for centuries the contributions of black people were not even mentioned in history. And I’m not just talking about all the manual, slave labor that helped build huge parts of the country, but the great minds and patriots who weren’t on the curriculum when I was growing up and some even now from the great writer and thinkers, like Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin to engineer Frederick McKinley Jones who revolutionized modern refrigeration thank you very muuch or James Armistead Lafayette, who spied on the British Army during the American Revolution, or Eunice Hunton Carter, a prosecutor from the 1930s – when there weren’t many women lawyers, let alone black ones  who helped take down a big mafia boss.

LEELA: But you learned about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Right?

MAMA: Yes, the big activists were in the books, but little else.

LEELA: So – that’s why there’s black history month.

MAMA: Exactly.

LEELA: Is that why our podcast friends at Hey Black Child say it should be Black History Year? I totally agree with them…

MAMA: Yes! That’s what they called their episode on Black History Month. But they walk the talk – that’s the whole point of their podcast to share the stories of cool Black folks who’ve made a mark from early Broadway actors to cowboys from the wild west, never mind engineers and astronauts.

LEELA: It’s definitely a podcast worth checking out!

MAMA: Yep – and to give you a little sample, here are its hosts Avery and Jackson 

LEELA: Who’ve been on Newsy Pooloozi before.

MAMA: Oh, yeah, several times. We’ll they’re gonna tell us about Dr Carter G Woodson – the man who helped create black history month.

LEELA: Over to you – Avery and Jackson!


AVERY: Let’s talk about Dr Woodson.

JACKSON: He was the son of former slaves and spent his childhood working in coalmines.

AVERY: At 19 having taught himself English and math, Mr Woodson entered highschool where he completed a four year curriculum in two years..

JACKSON: Wait, wait, wait.. let’s say that again he taught himself English and math

AVERY: Yes. Genius level. He then went on to earn his master degree in history from the University of Chicago and later earned a doctorate from Harvard. Not everyone is clear how the holiday came about

JACKSON: Dr Woodson was upset that history books ignored Black people, not all of them but most. 

AVERY: So, Mr Woodson said “challenge accepted.” And he started writing Black Americans into the nation’s history. First, he created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

JACKSON: He also started the Journal of Negro History.

AVERY: In 1926 Dr Woodson developed Negro History Week and in 1976 Negro History Week  expanded into Black History Month.

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Avery and Jackson!

MAMA: And be sure to check out their podcast Hey Black Child to find out more about important and interesting people that help make up America’s past and present. And as far as that other already mentioned February event 

LEELA: That would be Valentine’s Day 

MAMA: Have a listen to the second half of this podcast for the lowdown on how it began.


MAMA: And now for some big news from down under.

LEELA: Yes, we’re talking about those adorable little koala bears native to Australia that – get this – aren’t even bears!

MAMA: Yep, it’s time for…

NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s the call of nature. The call of nature. It’s the call of nature. Get on your safari suit. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. Squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarines. Because Mother Nature is calling. Nature. Mother Nature is calling!”   

MAMA: So, we all know those adorable Australian animals called koalas, right?

LEELA: With their long, squashed, black nose and the cutest round pokey-outy ears ever? 

MAMA: Those are the ones!

LEELA: Who’ve been wrongly called bears for years… in case you didn’t know.

MAMA: Yes, they might look like teddy bears…

LEELA: But they’re not bears, folks. They’re marsupials! Meaning their babies live, and suckle, in their pouch. Cutie-pies!

MAMA: For around six months, in fact, 

LEELA: So cute

MAMA: Yes. And, they are also arboreal – that’s a fancy way of saying they’re tree-dwellers, with sharp claws and rough skin on their feet to help them climb better.

LEELA: And thicker fur on their booties, so they have a nice cushion when sitting on branches. So sweet!

MAMA: But what happens when the trees they live in are cut down for logs, or cleared away to make space for human homes and businesses?

LEELA: Or just a forest fire comes along.


LEELA: Ravishing their habitat!

MAMA: Exactly. And sadly that’s what’s been happening in the past few years.

LEELA: Yeah, Australia has had some bad fires lately.

MAMA: Mmm-hmmm. Especially in 2019 and 2020 when a quarter of the koala habitat in New South Wales, that’s a state in south-eastern Australia, was badly damaged. And disease is another problem that’s affecting the koalas. So it’s no wonder the Australian government is sounding the alarm bell


MAMA: Listing the koala as an endangered species across most of its east coast. And this has all come about fairly recently. The species was only put on the “vulnerable” list in the region ten years ago. Australia’s biggest Koala conservation group says that there may now only be as few as 50,000 of the animals left in the wild.

LEELA: But, Mama, what good is putting an animal on a list gonna do?

MAMA: Good question. Seems like nothing right, but it’s actually a “call to action” – meaning funds will probably be given to groups who try to build conservation parks with programs to get help mating, so they can thrive.

LEELA: But, surely, they need more than a park or two?

MAMA: True – activists say stronger laws and incentives to land-owners 

LEELA: As in humans.

MAMA: Yes, us. We need to do more to help protect their forest homes.

LEELA: Well, I hope the “call to act” works! Because I can’t bear to think of a world without cute little koalas!


WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… It’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”

MAMA: Russia is claiming some of its 150,000 troops have withdrawn from its border with Ukraine, but few Ukrainians believe it and are bracing themselves for an invasion. Even the US President says it’s possible and the human cost of it would be immense.

Medicines and pharmaceutical products are polluting rivers world-wide, posing a threat to the environment and our health, according to a study from the UK’s University of York. Rivers in Pakistan, Bolivia and Ethiopia were among the most polluted. Rivers in Iceland, Norway and the Amazon rainforest fared the best.

Tennis great Novak Djokovic says he’s willing to skip the French Open and Wimbledon over his vaccine stance, even if it means losing out on becoming the statistically greatest tennis player ever. The Siberian athlete says he’s not anti-vax, he just doesn’t want to be told what to do with his body.

And February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day organizers say no gesture is too big or too small – just do it. More than once even. And guess what experts have found being kind to others is actually good for your health. As if you needed another reason to be kind! 


LEELA: As ever, thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.

MAMA: You’re most welcome. Now, the month of February also sees people show particular affection for each other with cards and messages of love on Feb 14.

LEELA: And give chocolate! I mean, what’s the point, otherwise? 

MAMA: Well, that’s the question – what is the point of Valentine’s Day? There are two prevailing theories… The first one is that it’s named after a saint.

LEELA: St Valentine.

MAMA: None other. Who’s thought to have been a Roman priest who used to help Christian couples get married – secretly – because the emperor at the time thought single men made better soldiers.

LEELA: Hmph!

MAMA: But, of course, Valentine was discovered, thrown in jail and sentenced to death. There, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and – the story goes – when he was taken to be killed on –

LEELA: Let me guess – the 14th of February.

MAMA: Bingo! Well, he wrote a love letter signed, “from your Valentine.”

LEELA: Ta-dah!

MAMA: The other story  is that it originated from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia to kick off spring, when boys drew names of girls to date during the festival and maybe even marry.

LEELA: The boy drew the names of the girls… Hmmmm.

MAMA: Yes Quite.

LEELA: I like the first story better 

MAMA: Me too. Eventually they merged into one anyway. But lots of people say it wasn’t until last century when the greeting card, candy and gift industries cranked into action 

LEELA: Ah – that would be capitalism and the desire to make money.

MAMA: You have been listening! Well, that’s when Valentine’s Day really took off, first in the US and now all over.

LEELA: But as you say, why limit yourself to having chocolates and affection one day of the year, right? So, ahh, how about some candy then, huh? Come on… 

MAMA: Aright…

LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.


ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!

LEELA: Odd spending, to be precise. 

MAMA: Ooooh, money-money-money! 

LEELA: Right, so I have a question for you. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

MAMA: Uhhh, my car? Wait, no, duh, a home.

LEELA: OK. And what’s the most you’ve ever spent on… say… shoes?

MAMA: Uhhh, 800 or 900 rupees? Sounds a lot in rupees, doesn’t it! But that’s just about 11 or 12 dollars – ‘cause, I’m cheap, as you know. Of course, 12 dollars goes a long way here. I could get a pizza or even two with much here in India.  

LEELA: Yeah, OK. But if they were super cool, or super trendy, designer shoes – you might spend a few hundred DOLLARS, not rupees, riiiiight?

MAMA: Uuuh, no.  

LEELA: Well, you better buckle up, or should I say, lace up, Mama – ‘cause there’s some crazy news you’re not gonna believe. 


MAMA: Oh, your godmother hasn’t bought a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, has she? 

LEELA: Uh, no. They cost, what, one or two thousand dollars? That would be small fry compared to the 352-THOUSAND dollars   that was recently paid for a pair of Nike’s Air Force 1 shoes.

MAMA: Excuse me? Do they come with exclusive rights to fly on Air Force One – you know, the US President’s personal plane?

LEELA: Uh, no, again. They’re just super cool and super trendy. Supposedly. 

MAMA: Oh, my. 

LEELA: And a limited edition. 

MAMA: Well, I should think so. 

LEELA: Made specially for the 40th anniversary of the original Nike Air Force 1 shoes. Since 1982 the sports shoes have been a huge hit worldwide. 

And to celebrate turning 40, Nike collaborated with the well-known French fashion house, Louis Vuitton, whose first black artistic director – the late Virgil Abloh (PRONOUNCED: Uh-blow) –  designed them. 

MAMA: Oh, don’t tell me they’ve got the tan-on-brown Louis Vuitton initials all over them? 

LEELA: Of course they do. Along with Nike’s logo – the Nike swooooosh.


MAMA: But… $350,000 – that’s a lot of pizzas. Never mind, you know, books, tuitions, school lunches that money could have been spent on, but don’t get me started. 

LEELA: Or, put another way, you could buy about 9 big sports utility vehicles for that money.

MAMA: For – one pair of shoes. 

LEELA: And the wild thing is 

MAMA: Wait, there’s more? 

LEELA: Oh, yeah! This was an auction of 200 pairs of shoes!

MAMA: 200 people paid that much for shoes? 

LEELA: OK, no, not everyone. $350-thousand dollars  was the highest bid. And you know how an auction’s bidding system works, right? Each bidder offers a certain amount of money that’s higher than the previous?

MAMA: Right – so the price can go up, up, up as people worry they won’t get the item. 

LEELA: Exactly. Actually, though, the organizers – the famous auction house Sotheby – expected the shoes to fetch just around $15,000 dollars each. 

MAMA: “Just $15,000 each.” for pair of shoes

LEELA: But it was an online auction that went on for nearly two weeks – with around 10,000 bids! And, not surprisingly, most of the bidders were under 40 years old! 

MAMA: Hmmph! 

LEELA: But, you will be pleased to know the proceeds will go to a charitable cause – The Virgil Abloh Scholarship Fund, which supports students of color to take up fashion and design careers. 

MAMA: Well, that’s something. 

LEELA: Yes, it’s an auction that touches the “sole,” wouldn’t you say? Get it, sole, like the one on the back of the shoe?


FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – February is Black History Month in the US, which was originally Negro History Week started in 1926 by which historian?

Dr Carter G Woodson

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – And when did Negro History Week expand into Black History Month?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Australia’s listed the koala as an endangered species across most of its east coast. They might look like bears, but since they live and suckle in their mama’s pouch for the first six months of their life, they’re really what?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Koalas with their sharp claws, rough skin on their feet and thick fur on their booties are tree dwellers. Otherwise known as?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Valentine’s Day is thought to originate from two different stories  one about Saint Valentine and the other about a spring festival both which originated in which place?


LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!

MAMA: But, first – don’t forget about our book give-away for the first in the series, “Run Like a Girl” series – a great story of middle school highs and lows.

LEELA: And what it’s like to join an athletic team.

MAMA: And – we’ve also got a couple of shout-outs – first 

BOTH: Happy birthday! 

MAMA: To our very own England correspondent, Jackson Hosking who just turned 12.

LEELA: We’ll have a slice of cake in your honor – right, Mama? 

MAMA: OK! And a special shout out to Liam and Leo – who listen to us on the way to school in New Mexico!, Hi guys

LEELA: Hi guys 

MAMA: Thanks for listening, guys! And the social media love. So happy y’all find me funny.

LEELA: Uhh, I think it’s me they find funny.

MAMA: Yeah, well, maybe. But I give the good puns.

LEELA: Wait a minute – the auction “with sole” that was ME.

MAMA: Oh, yeah. You’re kinda funny too, I guess.

LEELA: (mean meooow)


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