Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Back Pages



I love history...herstory...our story...I love it even more today. Grab the headline, while newspapers still exist, and stick it away. This one belongs with some of the others...some of the not so happy days.
Last night we went with a couple of friends to a funky bar in SE Portland, settled in with a few beers (Katie drank red wine, but wanted blue wine) and watched CNN with an appropriately diverse group of fellow Portlanders. None of the symbolism of the evening was lost, from the smoke-filled room to the rain outside. Every time a state or projected win came into the fold a cheer went up. Until the moment of victory. Then it was like New Year's Eve. It is the eve of a new era. From error to era!
All this will take a good while to sink in. Politics always has it's reality bite. What's possible? Who needs compensation? Who will best represent this complicated, convoluted, experiment we call a country?
I was fascinated by Michelle Obama's dress. Black and red. Do the math.
The impact of technology, the web, text messages, the role of young people in this campaign was unprecedented. But like many my age, what I'm thinking about the most today are some of the folks I've encountered along the way. The civil rights leaders who disappeared and then re-appeared as martyrs, Medgar Evers, Emmit Till, Rosa Parks, and Fanny Lou Hamer. I see the older woman who fell on the bus steps in Houston while the driver sat, and I ran forward when nobody else would move. I hear the voice of the man in the used appliance store in Texas reminding me what part of town I lived in. And the harsher voice of the baseball scout in Pennsylvania, whose racism was much more explicit than what I usually heard in the South. I see the the 16 year old I was, urging my mother and sister to come look at history as Martin Luther King's grainy image came on our old Packard Bell TV one hot August afternoon. Yessir! That's right! Call and response. I remember the outrage in discovering the real history of the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and the literacy test. (How many bubbles in a bar of soap?)
I know it is time to walk the walk. But for now there are some people and places to ponder. For now there are some back roads to take. For now there is history to recall.

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