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Czech and Slovak Museum Fondly Remembers Shirley Temple Black

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28 )  The world knew the little girl in curls dancing and singing her heart out on the silver screen, but the people of Czechoslovakia and at the Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids remember the woman, Shirley Temple Black.  She ended up in the middle of the cold war, under communist rule, during two very pivotal moments in history.

Czech and Slovak Museum Education Director Jan Stoffer says Temple Black was visiting on a mission to spread awareness about Multiple Sclerosis in 1968  when Russian Tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and took over.  Then at the request of President George H.W. Bush,  she returned as U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989 just before the Berlin Wall came down and  the Czech people began the Velvet Revolution a non-violent overthrow of communism.

As Stoffer shows visitors through an exhibit of pictures and film clips of the massive protests during the 11 day revolt, she notes that change had been in the air for months in the areas that now make up Slovakia and the Czech Republic. One black and white picture is of a protestor with a homemade sign, the kind Shirley Temple Black would have seen in the streets, that simply says  Svoboda   or freedom,   From what Ive read she was very pleased to see that Czechoslovakia was moving forward, they were going to be successful at overthrowing communism and they were moving toward a diplomatic and democratic path.

During her time in Czechoslovakia Temple Black fought to keep revolutionaries out of jail and later to help democracy prevail.  For that, Stoffer says,  the child star turned very capable diplomat and ambassador will be remembered and honored,  I think the Czech and Slovak Americans carry a fondness for her in their hearts because she was such a pivotal player and American influence in Czechoslovakia during that time.

 Stoffer says as Americans mourn the loss of an iconic actress, the people in Prague are being invited to sign a card of condolence for the woman who helped them find svoboda.    


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