26 July 2020

Different Tears

Young John Lewis, on Bloody Sunday, March 1965
[Upon watching John Lewis's body crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.]

I'm sitting here on my sofa in Greenville, South Carolina with tears on my face. Why? I wasn't there on that horrible day in Selma - I wouldn't be born for another six years. I was born in Atlanta, but I didn't live there during the time that Mr. Lewis represented a district in the metro area. 

I am just a white girl, born and raised in the "Deep South" of America. I am of the generation raised on those sweltering streets just after the Civil Rights movement shook the foundations of my country. And as I watched that flag-draped casket cross that bridge in Alabama, that bridge named for someone that believed some are more worthy than others - that some are more human than others - the tears came.

Tears for the man whose body is in the casket. Tears of gratitude. Tears of humility in the face of courage. Tears for a country that did not deserve him, yet he loved with all that he was for the whole of his life. Tears of shame, that people who looked like me met him on the other side of that bridge and beat him. Tears that we have lost yet another voice reminding us that it is all worth it and that we are all worthy. 

Tears over the sheer tragic beauty of that image - the caisson pausing at the apex of the bridge, its driver standing with his hat over his heart, on a hazy July Sunday in Alabama, as rose petals flutter to remind us of the blood spilled there in March of 1965. 

Pausing, as though to hear the congressman urge us one last time to good and necessary trouble. Will we take up the call?

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

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