Sunday, August 28, 2011

48 years ago today / Something more powerful than the mountain of despair/ Nonviolence

On August 28, 1963, I was an almost 14-year-old girl, living 25 miles south of San Francisco, who had seen very few African-American people except at the distance that was generally maintained at that time, and on television as entertainers or as sports figures. Throughout my school years to that point, all the students were white along with a few Mexican-Americans. When I started high school that September, there were, as I recall, 3 Japanese-American students in my large high school. That was before President Kennedy was assassinated and before the Beatles but not before the Civil Rights Movement.

I remember walking into our family living room on what was probably a very hot California summer afternoon and hearing Bob Dylan singing on our black and white television set. I was only vaguely aware of Bob Dylan at that time, mostly through his songs as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. I stopped to listen to him sing and understood that he was part of something powerful and peaceful that was happening at that moment. In my memory, I am alone in the living room. My parents had probably turned the television on, but I don't remember them sitting there watching the events. I don't recall my younger sisters, 13-years-old and 9-years-old, being there. Sad to say, I don't recall listening to Martin Luther King, Jr., speak, but I do remember a feeling that is very similar to what I am feeling today as I turn to video news sources (I don't have a television) and hear again something powerful and sustaining and nonviolent that has brought us through these last 48 years. Something that has probably always been with us and always will be with us, and which was voiced so eloquently by Martin Luther King, Jr., and those people who formed the American Civil Rights Movement and worked together. Not alone.


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