Monday, January 21, 2008

What do we want?

It is cold and windy but I am bundled. I walk along the levee from home to the confluence of the rivers then across the old railroad bridge to the foot of Broad Street. Above is blue sky crisscrossed by jet contrails dispersing quickly to become indistinquishable from the wispy cirrus clouds. To my right atop Myrtle Hill the stone Confederate sentry faces away - to the North - and cannot see the gathering on Broad. I wonder if his comrades in such perpetual rank and file under stones on the opposite side of the hill could have imagined this less-orderly march within shouting distance of their graves.

Here I am again on this third Monday in January with a few hundred others celebrating the life of Martin King and rededicating ourselves to his goals of peace, justice, and freedom.

Up Broad Street singing "We Shall Overcome" along the first block.
As we cross Second Avenue the leader shouts, "What do we want?!"
And we reply, "Freedom!"
"When do we want it?!"

Then a few verses of "Kumbaya".
Another shout.

Another Block.
"This Little Light of Mine"
Shout again.
"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around."

All along the way I think, as I do on this day every year,
of the water fountains at JC Penney's,
the Busy Bee lunch counter,
Silas McComb's little room upstairs in the Desoto Theatre,
the KKK rallys behind the levee,
the day I got to listen to Hosea Williams at Metropolitan Methodist just up the street.

And now I think of Barack Obama and wonder how that eloquent young man, so reminiscent of that even younger one we celebrate today, might help to heal our nation still recovering from the cancers of slavery and that great war that filled all those graves on the far side of Myrtle Hill.

I can't help but root a little for Barack this day.


2007 - MLK Day

2006 - Meaningful Mile

2006 - Walking...

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