Dancing in the Streets: Thanks, Barack!

It's great to have so many friends and peers excited about a national election. My poetry buddies, my political buddies, my intellectual buddies, my children and grandchildren and all their friends. All day I've been getting emails and phone calls full of joy and sending links like Martha and the Vandellas singing "Dancing in the Streets" and the Soul Children of Chicago belting out the Hallelujah Chorus. Barack Obama's speech was beautiful. I remembered Tula, the woman who raised me while my widowed mother was out selling houses in Memphis. She, like the woman Obama spoke about, would be about 106 years old now. She had picked cotton as a young woman, and she probably got to vote maybe once before she died. I remembered my mother who never voted for anybody but democrats (she despised Reagan and the first Bush--she didn't have to endure the second). And I so much enjoyed listening to anything John Lewis had to say in his memories about those troubled but promising times in the 50s and 60s when MLK walked and talked. And there was Jesse Jackson crying big tears. He had stood over the bloodied body of MLK at the Lorraine Hotel. Watching and hearing those two men somehow gave a feeling of justification for my generation. We've seen some shit, baby.

And John McCain's speech was fine too, gracious and open-hearted and wise. (Remember Nixon swinging at the TV cables with his axe?) The remarkable thing about McCain's speech is how the raucous celebrating crowd in Grant Park settled down to seriously listen to the man who had just lost the last election of his life. That spoke volumes of what Obama has succeeded in doing.

1 comment:

Bobby Byrd said...

from my sister Peggy who lives in Houston:


I loved your tribute to Obama. I loved reading your entire blog. I t was as if I were sitting in the room with you, listening to your voice.

Two corrections, however.

1. Tula voted every election while we lived in Memphis. Blacks were always allowed to vote in Memphis, thanks to "Boss" Crump. Back in his heyday, maybe the 20's or 30's, on election day, his henchmen would load up flatbed trucks with blacks and take them to the polls to vote for Mr. Crump. After they voted, they were rewarded with pints of whiskey. It was this kind of politics that caused the liquor stores to be closed on election days.

On election day, she would usually walk to the polling place which was at St. John's Episcopal Church, when we lived on Prescott.

The only time she did not vote was when we lived in Clarksdale, MS. Blacks were not allowed to vote in Mississippi.

2. Mother voted for Eisenhower in 1952. That was the year the South went Republican for the 1st time. Papa was a "yellow dog" Democrat, and both Lyle and Mother felt guilty for voting Republican. I think Papa died December 31, 1951. After that, Mother returned to the Democrat fold, primarily due to George Grider. Lyle and John became Republicans.

Your sister, Peggy