Tuesday, January 17

The truth

It snowed for about seven minutes today. Everyone at work got on the phone and called other people in town to ask if it was snowing where they were.

I had a good time this weekend. Saw Brokeback Mountain*, visited the Lorraine Motel on Martin Luther King Day, got my ass handed to me in Scrabble, and got Joey and Marie lost in some squalor for a good half hour. An all-around success.

I even managed to eek a couple of pictures out of my pitiful camera, which, at this point, is being held together by strips of packing tape.

The bulk (re: three or so) of the photos are here.

But just to give you an idea of how many people also came out to celebrate the King legacy at the National Civil Rights Museum, here's a picture of the line to get into the museum. Actually, this is just the line to get wristbands to get into the museum. The real line starts after that. You can't really see that part.

The museum is really well done, with a ton of information laid out in roughly chronological placards along the wall, accompanied by photos and art, and in some places videos and life-size models of aspects of particular events (protests, lunch counter sit-ins, etc.). The place was packed. On any given day, you can probably take your time and stroll leisurely through the quiet blue rooms, enjoying the solitude and absorbing all the information. But Monday the rooms were teeming with couples and families and parents pushing strollers and kids darting through and between knees and you sort of had to move with the surges of the crowd as they swept you along. And there was something invigorating about being there with so many people, somberly paying tribute but trying to learn something about history in the process.

There were a few surreal moments when I was standing near moms explaining to their young children what the stories on the walls meant: One white mom gently but forcefully explaining the unforgivable awfulness of the KKK to her toddler, and one black mom explaining to her child about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how communities that stick together can stand up for what's right. I stood alongside dozens — hundreds — and observed photograph after photograph of anonymous black bodies hanging from trees or lying listless on bonfire ashes. And I remembered the time in New York at the CMA conference when Amber and I went to a session on the First Amendment and songs that had been banned throughout history, and a black woman, I don't remember her name, sang "Strange Fruit" a cappella in a stentorian gospel alto, and everyone in the room was crippled by the devastating power of that song.

And it's those little moments of truth that sort of punch me in the stomach but that I need to have in my life because they are real.

*I suppose I really should write more about the movie, so maybe I will later. Really, all I would say is that it was a bittersweet story about love and trust and sacrifice with some hot, hunky love scenes. But you could read that on a poster if you wanted.


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