1968 Part II

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The Washington Post September, 2018

First,  an update on my post Why Did They Take My Music…(March 2018): They took away my Aretha!

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Miss Aretha Franklin’s funeral was today. Rest in peace, Queen. Miss Aretha had 2 big albums with some of her greatness hits (although by no means all) in 1968. The albums were Lady Soul and Aretha Now.

I wrote about 1968 in April and shared a part of my novel about that year. A couple of weeks ago I went to the National Portrait Gallery exhibit, 1968 One Year, An American Odyssey. It’s a great exhibit. If you’re in the D.C. area, I recommend going to see it. I went with a friend who hadn’t been born yet in 1968 and who is from another country. As I expanded on the written narratives for her and tried to explain how significant the events were,  the exhibit brought up memories that I’d forgotten…

It’s 1968 and I’m sitting at the kitchen dining table with my family. My mother and step-father are discussing the news over dinner. (It’s understood that my younger sister and I don’t have the gravitas to add anything important to the conversation so we sit and eat without talking. Sometimes we shrug.) There are riots going on in various U.S. cities and my mother isn’t happy about it. She’s supportive of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s agenda of resistance and reform through nonviolence but she feels that the primary goal of Blacks should be the “uplift” of the race a la W.E.B. Dubois. She believes black power is the improvement of our social condition through our own achievements. She isn’t  feelin’ the Black Panther’s message of speaking truth to power or their riff on Malcolm’s pronouncement of “by any means necessary. Those messages penetrate my mother’s well crafted narrative and float around in my head. I’m not yet a teen-ager, I won’t start high school for a few months. But I read, I watch and I listen. I’m confused now by all the opinions and perspectives. I know what I’m supposed to believe but I’m not sure I do believe it.

I looked at the exhibit photos of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and remembered that the music of that year both scared and soothed me. It continued my introduction to alternative ways of looking at things, challenging what I was being taught at home. But I also remembered the songs I listened to on AM radio late at night. I liked to lie in bed with the lights turned off, staring at the green glow of the radio dial.  I would drift off, lulled by the stylings of artists like Miss Aretha singing “I Say a Little Prayer, Sergio Mendes doing “Fool On the Hill” and the Temptations soon to be classic “I Wish it Would Rain”.

My mother preferred Della Reese to Aretha Franklin. I loved them both.

1968

So here I am on the last day of April trying to stick to my commitment to post at least once a month to this blog. It’s been a challenge to do it since the re-launch. I used to have so much to say and now apparently, I don’t.

Anyway, I’ve been watching some retrospectives on TV commemorating the fifty-year anniversary of the significant events of 1968. The year factors largely in a novel I wrote during my hiatus from blogging. (It’s unpublished which is why I haven’t mentioned it before now but it is copywritten.) In one chapter the main characters talk about how they felt as children witnessing some of what was going on in 1968. I was a child then too and the TV programs reminded me of how I channeled my feelings into those of my characters. It was an impactful time, even for children. Since I can’t think of anything else to write about, I decided  I’d share a little of the chapter with you. If you like it, maybe I’ll post more from the novel later.

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“I’ll tell you, it was some year, sixty-eight. Crazy. John dying in his crib like that.  Mom and Dad both wildin’ out and on top of all of it, half of Baltimore burning up in the Holy War Uprising. Yeah, it was crazy.” As Thomas gestured with his drink in his hand, his eyes filled with long past images. He, Junior and Judi thought back to the Baltimore riots of 1968 and their collective memory was one of fire. Memories of the glow of the TV screen in the living room of the homestead as David Sr. and Ella sat on the sofa, watching the pictures of everything burning. They remembered the way Ella, her pregnant belly touching the cushions, squeezed David’s hand and whispered, “Damn, that’s right where your cousin lives.” The kids had turned and looked at Ella wide-eyed because cussing was their father’s forte, something in which their mother rarely engaged. But it frightened them the most when David said, “It looks like hell.”  After a solemn dinner that night, the three siblings had huddled together in the playroom wondering which sins had caused the troubles and whether the hell fires would get them too.  The memory faded and the spell was broken by David Jr’s deep voice.

“Ain’t that much different around here now Tom, and um, you’d know if you didn’t live in a gated community.” Thomas was ready for his big brother’s taunts.  To him David Jr. was like Baltimore City, still vital but a little rough around the edges. The oldest sibling wasn’t the big, bad brother he’d been when they were younger. He hadn’t been since Thomas entered the meat and potatoes of his adulthood, the years that had brought the reality of negotiating a good career, marriage and parenthood as a middle-class black man. Thomas set down his glass and scratched the hair on his chest through his starched blue business shirt and undershirt.  

     “Ok, that’s true Dave but back then black folks weren’t just rioting because they were mad like they do now.  Everybody in this neighborhood and for that fact in black neighborhoods around the country were talking about Black Power. And it was all over the news so we saw all those pictures of raised fists on the TV when Mom was trying to herd us up to bed after dinner, remember? Matt, we know you and Ruth were too little to remember but I’m telling you it felt like something real would jump off at any minute.  Even at five I knew something big was going on.  It scared me, it really did,” Thomas said.

©Kat Tennermann, 2016

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(Photo by Ivan Cujic from Pexels)

 

It Rises

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by the National Museum of African-American History and Culture that included the exhibit “Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals At Talladega College. It was held at the National Museum of American History because the NMAAHC building isn’t finished yet. It’s slated for completion in 2016.

Smithsonian via Google Plus
Smithsonian via Google Plus

One of the many benefits to me of moving to the Washington DC area has been the excitement of watching the museum’s development. As I passed on my way to the event that Saturday, Maya Angelou’s powerful poem Still I Rise came into my head. The image of that beautiful building rising out of the ground at the corner of the National Mall  seems like the embodiment of the words to me.

When I was a little girl, the biggest public symbol of African-American life that I saw regularly was a giant fiberglass washer woman dressed like Aunt Jemima which stood on top of the roof of the local laundromat. She was mechanical. and moved up and down in a never-ending task of washing fiberglass clothes in a big tub. I asked my mother more than once why “they” put that big, ole lady up there like that. Even at that young age I knew it wasn’t a flattering image of black womanhood. My mother’s answer came with a sigh and was always the same, “I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.”

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So for me, watching the NMAAHC building go up has been cathartic. It has exorcised some of the many shame demons who taunted me in childhood. I’m thrilled to witness the progression of an emblem of the contribution of African-American culture to the country, as it expands upward toward the sky. As Ms. Angelou so pointedly yet eloquently put it:

 

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Hale Woodruff's murals exhibit
The Hale Woodruff’s murals exhibit

Summer Meditation: Notes From the Road

 

jeep-218956_640It’s sunrise and I’m on Route 95 headed toward Richmond. The early sunshine works its way through thick bands of pine and maple trees along the highway. Puffy clouds sit static behind the green backdrop. I’m glad to be on my way further down south from Virginia. This visit to my cousin in Raleigh means I get to explore what I’m told is the “real south” which is what I’ve been trying to do since I moved two years ago. Funny, when I lived in Boston I thought northern Virginia was the real south but apparently Richmond is a dividing line, it’s history as the Confederate capital still having significance.

I’ve been to Atlanta and Myrtle Beach but as I enter the city of Richmond it feels different. I can’t help wondering what this landscape looked like 150 years ago. Did the sun penetrate the foliage then as it does now when soldiers stood between the trees trying to detect the blue or the gray of the perceived enemy? Did any of my people run this route on their way from confederate North Carolina to the contraband camps in Alexandria where I live now? I see long swaths of grass between mighty trees. Were they part of battlefields? As I pass by I’m thinking about all those who might have been left lying out there. What a time that must have been! Were the issues of the Civil War clear-cut back then to the citizenry of both sides or did they seem as confused as the ones we wrestle with now; war, conflict, ideology?

I exit onto Route 85 and into North Carolina. The cops are less visible than on the Virginia roads. Are they waiting til they have a good breakfast of grits and eggs before starting their patrols? Old time asphalt reverberates and rattles my soul along with my wheels. I see a sign for Ace Hardware and Gun Store. Hills, valleys and pickup trucks. No helmets needed by the Harley riders here. Cigs three dollars a pack and a speed limit of whatever you can bear. Ghosts of tobacco plantations, dusty hills, slave-owning forefathers but license plates that only mention Kitty Hawk. Places like Creedmoor and Falls Lake; Ruin Creek, Nutbush Creek, and Bullsville inhabit this two lane stretch. I roll down the window a bit to smell the air. It’s hot and humid just the way I like and aromatic with bellflowers and jewelweed in full bloom. I know this place’s unsettling and violent history but like many folks, I still find the scenery beautiful and somehow peaceful.

I turn off the highway just outside Raleigh onto the Triangle Expressway. It’s a big, newly paved road dotted with the shiny office buildings of tech companies. I start looking for my cousin’s subdivision. There are so many of them here that have replaced old farms although, come to think of it, it’s the same in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I find the “Springwell” community and pull in. (All the subdivision around here are named.) I’m looking forward to the lilt in my cousin’s speech and his traditional southern hospitality. I hear there are only three Starbucks in these parts but that’s ok because I’m ready to try something else.

 

Hey Cliven Bundy, Freedom Beats Picking Cotton

Very well said Michael Twitty.

Afroculinaria

Sooo…I heard about this rancher who was angry about not being able to graze on “his land,” (Let’s ask the Shoshone, Ute and Paiute and other First Nations about that claim…)  and I was really disturbed that someone with some sort of ancestral or historical connection might lose their land or ties or livelihood–you know I kinda get passionate about that kinda stuff.  I actually felt sorry for him–or at least based on first impressions I felt some sort of kinship or empathy.  More details, came, I felt less sorry, but still intrigued by what this story meant for what American democracy means to different types of people and why they get passionate about the nature of being an American and their idea of freedom.  After all, it was just Passover…I’ve had eight days to think about what freedom means and how glad I am not to be enslaved. (Wait–I do that…

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Winter Meditation: Tribes-Trying to Feel Connected

IMG_2285I wrote in my last post about how we cling to the tendency to divide into tribes and what I image a world wide tribe would look like. It was an optimistic post bordering on naive.  It’s a subject that’s important to me because I was brought up without a sense of being part of a specific population so I think a lot about who and how people form social groups.

I want to begin by talking about the positive aspects of the way I grew up. I never felt I was forced to have an alliance to any group, clan, or other homogeneous body and there’s a certain freedom in that. I always felt removed from the bubble of ethnocentricity. That can be beneficial. As Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation explains in the discussion of his  Second Stage of Spiritual Development,

“At Stage Two, your concern is to look good outside. Your concern with pleasing the neighborhood, the village, your religion, or your kind of folks becomes such a way of life that you get very practiced at hiding or disguising any contrary evidence. That’s why it is so dangerous… Your whole identity becomes defending your external behavior as more moral than other people, and defending your family, your community, your race, your church or temple or mosque, your nation as superior to others.”

So I was spared that kind of “tribal thinking” and that’s a good thing. I’m more apt to interpret the clan affiliation of individuals in a global context. It also allowed me to be more objective about human behavior. I could observe it without feeling too invested to be objective. I think the reason I studied journalism was to learn how to write social commentary that was as unbiased as possible. I’m glad and grateful for that.

The downside was that kind of “otherness” made for a sometimes lonely, always complicated  upbringing and personhood. It’s taken me up to this, the third trimester of my life, to internalize that humans are social beings and I’ve come to truly believe that we’re all connected in The One. But I was brought up divorced from the cultural group that I would naturally have been a part of, the African American community, so my socialization within it was cut off. I was disconnected and because of the way American society was when I was growing up, I couldn’t feel part of any white social group. Those groups saw me as part of the separate black world. On the other hand, I had a parent who told me that I wasn’t part of that community so it was hard for me to know where my place actually was. Eventually, I came to feel that my place was totally “outside”. My saving grace was that I’m naturally an introvert and need a lot of solitude anyway so isolation wasn’t completely intolerable to me. But still we all have an intrinsic need to feel connected to others. My feeling of being an outsider is also why its been hard for me to practice compassion (I posted about this in Back To The Bow) and conversely seeking connection is what’s made it so important to me.

My mother, may her soul rest in peace, I understand her rationale, I absolutely do. She grew up in a time when institutional racism wasn’t even questioned and she had the desire and the intelligence to do so much. She wanted to break out of the confines that were dictated by racism but felt as if she couldn’t in the life she was born to, so she ran. She ran from the south, from the memory of slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction and the Great Migration. She had to reinvent herself down to the cellular level to excise all those memories. She was wasn’t unique. In his book How To Be Black, Baratunde Thurston chronicled the phenomenon in other African Americans and even said at one point,  “..lots of black people have had the desire to escape their blackness.” But my mother went so much further than that. She was an African American Jake Gatsby. She reinvented where she was born. She reinvented her spirituality. She changed whatever she felt she needed to in order to mitigate the consequences of being black. I’ve written here before about the distance that put between my nuclear family and my traditional culture. (Conflict In Commemoration) There was an absence of things like a black church and trips down south for me to see ancestral homes or visit gravesites. My mother was trying to live up to her potential and by the sixties when things started to change she had hope that her children would not have to be afflicted with the limitations that she felt had hemmed her in. That’s why she didn’t want us to be defined by African American culture, which to her reflected those limitations.

There were of course, a lot of flaws in her thinking. One was that she assumed we would want the life she wanted.  I’ve come to understand as a parent that you can’t assume that about your kids.  The biggest flaw however was that she didn’t realize we might feel alienated in the larger society by not being able to relate to a specific culture. She grew up in an all African American community so I don’t think she ever understood what it was like not have that relationship. She could always relate because try as she might, she was never fully unyoked  from the culture. But she needed to see it as an intellectual exercise and not feel it as an emotional condition.

My mother did the best she could and she thought she was doing right by us. Unfortunately, it was a life fraught with challenges to our identities that the three of us found hard to get through to varying degrees. So that’s another one of the reason I had to come south.  I’ve been fortunate enough to form a strong sense of self that includes but is not exclusive to my African American heritage. Yet I still want to embrace the missing and difficult parts of our past that my mother felt she had to escape. Every time I walk around in Old Town Alexandria on ground where “contraband” slaves once lived during the Civil war, my history is finally personal. I can plot the place at Arlington National Cemetery that was once the Freeman’s Village. I drive around the VA countryside contemplating what my ancestors thought of the weather, the soil and the work. In those ways I create a link to people, place and time; a sense of sharing in a legacy. I didn’t experience the kind of intimacy with my familial history in New England the way I do here. I have a richer perception of my identity now that includes pain and sorrow. It leads me to feel sympathy for other people who are facing similar struggles and compassion for those of us, not just black folks, who live with the challenging aspects of our shared American story.  It allows me to feel part of something larger than myself.

The Conflict in Commemoration

Slave and Free States before the Civil War. Wikimedia

This coming November 19th marks the anniversary of the Gettysburg address and last July was the anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg. Here in the southern U.S. it’s kind of a big deal. There were battle re-enactments in the summer and there will be a whole “Dedication Day” at the Gettysburg National Military Park on Tuesday.  Actually, 2013 is the 150th anniversary of several significant Civil War events. I mentioned this to a couple of friends of mine in Boston. Both had basically the same reaction, “And you still want to live in the south?” These friends are northeast liberals for whom the Civil War is a symbol of other people’s misguided ideas, other people’s shame and other people’s loss. (Sometimes it feels to me like every person I know who lives in Cambridge, Mass claims to have a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.) They seem to feel as though the facts of the Civil War don’t have anything to do with them. Here in the south I’ve seen people gaze on Confederate graves with sincere reverence for those who lost their lives. I think some of my friends up north would say there is no honor to recognize or commemorate. It’s interesting to me that both points of view can exist at the same time without a synthesis.

I freely (irony intended) admit that I’m as liberal as they come but I see the Civil War not as either/or but rather a both/and situation. And I think the difference in perspectives about the Civil War epitomizes the sad, oversimplified divisions played out in our national politics now. Instead of the gray and the blue it’s the red and blue. Why can’t we face both the repugnance and the importance of the War together? Maybe what we should do as a nation on this 150th anniversary is reflect on the both/and of the war:

-the US split apart and then was knitted back together through the leadership of one of the most effective presidents elected by its people.
-it was the most deadly conflict in US history and resulted in the constitutional end to the institution of slavery.

In an interview for CNN, “Mike Litterst of the National Park Service said interpretations at federal Civil War battlefields have evolved in the past 25 years. Besides telling the story of the battles and the homefront, exhibits increasingly stress the importance of the conflict to civil rights and the role of African-Americans, thousands of whom served in the Union Army.” (Thousands at Gettysburg for 150th… )

Personally, the Civil war represents the missing and mysterious parts of my family history.  I come from an African American family that chose to forget the fact of slavery, the Civil War and the legacy of both. It was too painful for them to think about because it didn’t allow them to believe that they could live equally in the U.S. They swept any knowledge of ancestors and relatives with connections to the south and slavery under the rug and began our family story with their lives in the north. Maybe by living here in the South and being present at events that commemorate the Civil War I can exorcise the ghosts of my family’s shame. I can reframe, as the National Park Service seeks to do, the way in which we look at our history into a both/and. We were enslaved in the south under a horrible institution and endured. We fully participated in the struggle of divergent interests and with slavery behind us we decided our fate by looking forward to a different place and time. Yes, I feel much more comfortable with the totality of both/and.

 Dedication Day at the Gettysburg National Military Park is November 19th. The ceremony “will observe the 150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The event takes place in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery,”. There will also be a graveside salute to the U.S. Colored Troops.  For more information visit the website, Gettysburg Dedication Day

Showing Up And Getting Over

So, I was with my church community last Saturday. Because it’s the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we had an event with a speaker who discussed Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. One of the main points the speaker put forth is that there’s no room for anger in a non-violent movement. Our group is very diverse but there seemed to be a stress line dividing our Black and White members on that particular point. I noticed that the White members wholly embraced the idea while we African Americans were more reserved about it. It seemed that while some of us felt the emphasis has to be on reconciliation in addressing inequity in this country, others expressed the need for justice to be the centerpiece. It was immediately clear to me during the discussion that the effects of racism in the US and the difficultly of trans-racial conversation about it was, once again, at play.

I thought about the event for days afterwards. How best would I explain to my White fellow members why I think anger and a thirst for justice are at the forefront of movements for equality and non-violence is not so much a belief system as it is a political strategy? I decided to make a short video to express myself. It’s the first time I’ve made one so it’s a little rough but I think it makes the point. Both songs on the audio track are called “How I Got Over”. The first one is the song Mahalia Jackson sang at the March in 1963. (Recording from “The Essential Mahalia Jackson”,1980, iTunes Store) The second one is The Roots from their album by the same name. (“How I Got Over”, 2010, iTunes Store) Here is the link to the video on YouTube. Please watch and let me know your opinion. http://youtu.be/6LKmTvFJEG8

Then today I went to the National Mall for the anniversary march. As it was fifty years ago Black and Brown people (and because it’s 2013 every combination thereof) came together en masse to tend to business. The job isn’t done yet, the dream not completely fulfilled but I’m glad to say, we’re still willing to show up and stand up. Here are some pictures to prove it. IMG_1860

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I Don’t Know but I Have Faith

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Image from Wikimedia

I was reading in the newspaper today about the recent sectarian violence in Turkey and Pakistan. I was thinking about how much tribal, factional, “us” vs. “them” violence still happens all the time all over the world. It doesn’t just happen in places where we Americans can point and say, “What’s the matter with them?” It happens in this country too. (How many gay youths have been bullied or beaten recently and remember the massacre of six worshipers at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee?) I guess it’s been uppermost in my mind lately because a spiritual practice group I belong to is having an event in remembrance of Dr. King in a few days. There will be discussions during the event and two of the themes are, “the goal of interracial, global Christian fellowship” and “the pursuit of justice as a holy calling.”

In light of the violence, I asked myself if true interracial, global fellowship (Christian or otherwise) and therefore peace, is actually possible.  And given peoplekind’s penchant for using  “otherness” as a reason for inequity and for that matter, elimination, can the pursuit of justice ever be consistent with a goal of peace and fellowship?

Sometimes I fear, in my more pessimistic moments, that the only way we’ll have peace and justice is by the “Day the Earth Stood Still” model; that is if we’re forced into it by beings much wiser than ourselves.  That would achieve peace and begrudging justice but that couldn’t be called fellowship, could it? It’s more than just my being disheartened and saying, “Oh, the fate of the world!” It’s because I belong to a faith community now and if we’re going to talk the talk I wonder if it is really possible for us to walk the walk. Do even people of faith fear deep down that our human nature negates the possibility?  I was around during Dr. King’s ministry and at that time many people were fast and loose with the use of the words peace and justice. They became rallying cries for assorted social and political agendas. Unfortunately, many times those agendas didn’t include “others”. Are we still throwing the terms around?  Are these discussions really meaningful to us in the context of our modern world views?  Are we simply having them because it’s MLK’s birthday and we think it’s what we’re supposed to talk about at the interfaith events and prayer breakfasts?

Image from Wikimedia

I went to one of my favorite sources of lucidity and insight in these matters, Richard Rohr. (https://cac.org)  In his book “Breathing Underwater” he says, ‘…a system of retributive justice (author’s italics) …has controlled the story line of 99 percent of history. It seems history could not see what it was not ready to see; but in our time more and more are ready and willing to understand. One cannot help but believe there is an evolution of human and spiritual consciousness.” He goes on to say that there are many theories (like Spiral Dynamics) that describe the evolution and they “are recognizing that history is moving forward, even if by fits and starts, and even many steps backwards.” (pg 39) I wonder if Dr. King would believe that now. When I think about his agenda I wonder if he would think the fits and steps backwards are too large to move past. But then I think, of course he would have the kind of faith Fr. Rohr has.

I want to have that kind of faith. I want to believe the theories and research are correct. I want to believe that the conversations my community is having aren’t just because it’s MLK’s birthday but because they are a manifestation of our evolution.

I guess that has to be a component of my faith, believing that the process of working toward peace and justice is important even without the expectation of witnessing the eventual success.

History Lessons III

Image courtesy of ushistoryimages.com

The other night I took in a lecture at The Lyceum in Alexandria, VA.  It’s a historic landmark and the lecture was on the role Alexandrians played in the Underground Railroad.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m very interested in studying American slavery, the Civil War and my family’s southern history so I was looking forward to learning something.

Unfortunately, I was distracted throughout the lecture. The first distraction was the presenter. I didn’t expect a speaker with the oration skills of Frederick Douglas but I didn’t expect a soft-spoken elderly woman reading from shaking notes either.  She was informative and clearly very dedicated to the subject but her style was challenging to the attention span.  The second distraction was the language. The presenter is a researcher from the “National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom” program and she said they call those who used the Underground Railroad “freedom seekers”. Really? I kept thinking about the term. It seemed to me that it makes the slaves sound like they were armed soldiers. It undermines the horror and indignity of their condition by framing it in positive language. The researcher also kept using the term “master” to indicate a slaveholder. I thought that wasn’t used anymore because it seems to elevate the status of those who simply dealt in human flesh. The program  is federally mandated and administered by the National Park Service. That probably explains both the elderly speaker and the language.  Anyway, the website is:  http://www.nps.gov/subjects/ugrr/index.htm .

I left the Lyceum with the discouraging thought that even when we try as a nation to take in the complexities of slavery and it’s effects on race relations, we can’t bear up under the weight. The next day I was reading a piece on the Pro-Slavery Constitution  by Paul Finkelman. In it he says,

The problems created by slavery-the moral and political legacies of slavery-were further complicated by the fact that the national constitution protected slavery in a myriad of ways…

We should not be shocked or surprised that the Constitution protected slavery. Slavery, after all, was a powerful economic institution…. But, slavery in the United States was more than simply an economic system designed to extract labor, at a relatively low cost, from those who were enslaved… 

Slavery was also a system of racial control.”

Even during the time of slavery the tendency was to try to frame it in the cleanest of terms (simply economic) without the ominous undertones (racism). And that’s why we can’t hold it. We want to think of ourselves as a nation of freedom seekers and not a nation of enslavers. I recommend the article. In plain, unflinching terms Finkelman speaks some realities we have yet to face on the national level. The “National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom” program attempts, in its own way, to hold a national conversation about slavery. We really need to have that conversation so it is a baby step in the right direction.

To read Paul Finkelman’s article search http://racism.org.  “How the Pro-Slavery Constitution Shaped American Race Relations”