I watched the movie ‘Talk to Me‘ with my dad a couple weeks ago. I thought he’d like it, since it chronicles events taking place in DC during the 60s – when he was there. He found it interesting…didn’t agree with some of it – I guess cuz he was actually there.
We got to talking about the days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He told me about the riots, and what the city was like. How the fires burned so long. The curfew. He was in nursing school at the time, and involved in some outreach program with fellow students on the wknds. He told me about going down to the area they were supposed to visit to let the people know that the group wasn’t coming because it was so dangerous.
Then he told me about attending a rally or a gathering or something of the kind, with some of his friends. Stokely Carmichael was talking about taking things back. About retribution. And the moment I know my dad will never forget [because he’s told me about it several times] – when Stokely Carmichael said everybody needed to have their guns, promptly pulled his own out of his jacket, and said, “I’ve got mine, right here!”
Dad doesn’t tell me a lot about how things were. If I ask, there are usually just a few stories that I get. Some movies he will never see, because he says that they make him angry. And he’s told me before about how my uncle – his younger brother, actually hated white people for a long time. I can’t imagine the life my father had growing up.
But when he wants me to listen to the ‘Drum Major’ record, I listen.
It’s weird sometimes, considering the fact that I pretty much grew up white. When I think about myself when I was ten – or even 14 – I see so much that I was unaware of. So much that I had the privilege to have never dealt with. Because of my dad. And in part, because of Dr. King.
I’m not gonna get too much deeper…let’s just take a moment. It never hurts to stop for a second and take stock of the privilege that we have today because of the work of people who’ve gone before.
Much love, folk. peace.