Next Monday will be devoted to the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It was my good fortune to work under Dr. King in the great voting rights campaign he led with others in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Besides being historic for America, that experience was formative for me. It led me to jail, to a repudiation of war, and even to Quakers.
Monday evening at Pendle Hill, starting at 7:30 PM, as part of this remembrance, I’ll be talking about that experience, and you’re invited. Details are here, and it’s free.
In December 1964, I joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter I was sent by SCLC to Selma, Alabama, where I worked in the Voting Rights Movement organized by Dr. King and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Continue reading For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16→
Went to see this movie at the Tuesday bargain matinee. The film was the surprise box office winner for films that opened last weekend.
My goal for it was twofold:
1. Pig out on popcorn (no added “butter,” free refill); and
2. Be distracted from the fearful foolishness outside.
I’m aware that there are some black sophisticates who sneer at producer/writer/actor Tyler Perry & his famed drag character Madea as retrograde & politically incorrect.
Personally, I’m in awe of both: Perry is no puppet of white moviemakers: he built an empire by creating a strong, original character who combines many of the paradoxes of the culture and makes them tolerable through broad comedy. And he gathered his following from the ground up with black audiences. Many of Perry’s films seem clumsily assembled, yet Madea outshines them and survives.
“Boo!” involves the standard Perry ingredients: sassy but vulnerable youth; elders who are hilariously obnoxious, often off-color, pot-smoking (mostly legal this time) & foul-mouthed. The plot is far-fetched & mainly irrelevant, with a dollop of throwback piety to reassure the nervous churchgoers tittering in the back.
Never mind the story; it rolls along. The point is, I came out two hours later, still chuckling. And not til the car radio went on did I realize I hadn’t thought about the damn election & all that, not even for a second, for more than two hours:
That’s worth five stars & a bushel of rotten tomatoes. Money’s worth, totally.
The New York Times Magazine has a very striking & powerful profile of Larycia Hawkins, the former tenured professor at evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois. She was abruptly fired last year after publicly wearing a hijab “in solidarity” with Muslims facing Islamophobia.
For the record, she wasn’t converting to Islam, but this gesture of “solidarity,” especially by an articulate black woman intellectual was way too much for both Wheaton’s white male rulers & its mostly white constituency.
Let’s Salute the Flag & Stand for the Anthem — Oh, Wait!
This flag was flying over the Manzanar relocation camp in the high desert of California in 1942. Manzanar, as well as nine other camps were packed with more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who were taken from their homes shortly after the U.S. entered World War Two against Japan & Germany. Most lost everything they had owned.
Manzanar is now a National Historic Park. And it’s one that Quakers have a lot invested in, though not many of us know that.
Cloudy Skies for Friends General Conference — Part 1
Early in July, I was at the 2016 Gathering of Friends General Conference in Minnesota. And not long afterward, a Quaker I’ll call “Goodfriend” sent me an email, passing on a message from another, Friend, called here “Onequake.”
Chuck—I thought you might be interested in this email. It’s from a member of our Meeting . . . .Do you know anything about racial tensions at FGC?
Begin forwarded message:
From: Onequake Subject: FGC and race Date: July 11, 2016
This morning we attended [a Meeting far from home]. We heard that there were racial incidents at [the] FGC [Gathering in Minnesota early in July]. And that the area of MN chosen for the gathering is well-known for racial problems.
Also that last year there were people holding shotguns and confederate flags outside the grocery store in Cullowhee [NC – the town by Western Carolina U] during thec2015 Gathering. People of color felt very unwelcome and unsafe. And in California, PA [site of the 2014 FGC Gathering] we’re told there were incidents with security.
[At this Sunday’s meeting] a woman of color was collecting signatures on a petition asking for two things:
1. That the FGC site committee be majority people of color. 2. An internal racial audit of FGC systems.
Having never attended FGC I am at a loss about this and would like to hear from others who have attended this year or those years in Cullowhee or PA. MN surprised me, Cullowhee does not. Do others know about this? If so, why isn’t this a huge scandal among Friends? Have I missed all those discussions in every city I visit? The site committee seems to be only five people. Why wouldn’t FGC immediately appoint three people of color to that committee as a show of solidarity and good faith? Why is a petition necessary? It seems to be a no-brainer. I said to the woman who had the petition that if MN, PA and NC aren’t safe, it sounds like we have to leave the country to meet. She said there are plenty of safe places for people of color. If I meet her again, I will ask her where those places would be.
. . . I feel like I’m missing a lot of pieces from this puzzle. If anyone knows something about FGC and race, please give me your insight. Thank you.
If I could, I’d add another stone to the crowded cemetery rows here, bearing the name of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965, and died several days later.
The same trooper-shooter killed another unarmed young black man in 1966. Forty-five years later, under pressure from black state legislators, a prosecutor finally took up Jackson’s case. The story is summarized in this blog post. Jackson’s death, and the heedless racism that killed him, did not go unmarked or unanswered: it sparked the march from Selma to Montgomery, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & now-Rep. John Lewis at the head, which brought about passage of the Voting Rights Act.
The fabulous unique outdoor drama about Quakers & others joining enslaved people in their efforts to escape bondage in pre-Civil War North Carolina takes the stage for the premiere performance of its 22nd season tonight, July 7. Showtime is at 8 PM at the Snow Camp Drama ampitheatre in historic Snow Camp NC.
(If you can’t get there tonight, there are performances Friday and Saturday, then again on July 14-16, and six more after that before the limited run concludes on Saturday August 6.)
Resistance to slavery in North Carolina is a story that has not been fully told. The compelling original play Pathway to Freedom opens the door to more awareness and better understanding of this epic history.