August 28, 1963. Today is the 53th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the setting of one of the most important speeches ever given.
I wasn't born yet, I came along in this world in the early winter of 1969. I think I first heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech from the March on Washington when I was in junior high. I recall hearing it played over the junior high's public address system, wondering at the resonance of the voice and the scratchy sound of the recording.
I just found a recording of this speech on youtube and I'm listening and typing the words I want to return to, listen along with me:
Over 50 years ago, Dr. King said, "We can never be satisfied as long as Negroes are the victims of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality."
What kind of pathology is it that a football player, Colin Kaepernick in this case, can be castigated for calling attention to the tragedies that have been unfolding in with a sickening regularity? For using his freedom of speech to call attention to what Dr. King told us was a baseline, a baseline for improving our country? I'm not a football enthusiast, but I understand and appreciate and applaud the significance of a professional athlete willing to take a moral stand in the over of the future of his career, and I support him.
This is explained here: http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/17405859/colin-kaepernick-did-controversial-was-not-un-american-nfl
Is the pathology denial, the refusal to hear what is wrong in our country in order to keep content in the status quo?
In 2063, I will be a little old lady, if good luck and health are on my side. I have never said I will move to a different country based on the outcome of an election, because I am here to stay and I have no idea why I would give up on the idea that men and women of all races and religions can live together peacefully. As musician Eddie Gale says, we can choose to get along.
Will it be music, will it be art, will it be poetry that helps get us there? I'm going to put my money, literally, on the writers, rappers, lyricists, dancers, the artists embracing the physicality of togetherness and honesty. In an era where we have women like Beyonce and men like Lin Manuel Miranda sandblasting stereotypes and traditions and reshaping ideas of performance and history, I think the combined grace and passion and energy of artists will outpace idiocy and hate.
Join me in getting to know your neighbors, supporting public radio, buying local, attending concerts, going to city council meetings, writing letters to politicians, and learning how to be the kind of ally that would marched in 1963 because clearly the work is not done. I think one of those ways is to really _know_ history and not let important places slip away. Author Renee Watson and the I, Too Collective is fundraising to preserve on of the most important homes of the 20th Century, the home of poet Langston Hughes in Harlem. Learn about and support this beautiful project here:
Thank you Colin Kaepernick, thank you Renee Watson, thank you Langston Hughes, thank you Dr. King.
#freddiegray #sandrabland #philandocastile #altonsterling #blacklivesmatter