I PUT ON FOR MY CITY. . . AND MY STATE
Yes, I am proud to be a native of Birmingham, AL despite it's shameful racist past that still lingers in the present. I am proud of the African American story of how we made it over. I am a proud Southern Grit- girl raised in the South.
When I started college in Atlanta GA, many of my classmates from the North were astonished to hear I was from Alabama. Constantly I heard, "you don't look like. . . speak like. . .act like. . . you're from Alabama!" Also I heard variations of "When I think of Alabama, I think of. . . overalls. . .red dirt. . . and bare feet.
I can not judge. I heard a lady say that out of all the places she had lived in the United States, Arizona was her favorite. Her admission raised concern and confusion in me. "But Arizona doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to race and immigration," I pointed out. Simply she replied, "Yea, neither does Alabama." She said it plainly; not in an accusatory or sarcastic way. Point well taken. That reputation doesn't keep me from loving my hometown.
The year 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL. The city has events planned throughout the year to commemorate. Last night I attended one of those events. It was a play based off of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" and how the same issues he spoke about in that letter are still prevalent today; not just for African Americans but for the disabled, the elderly, homosexuals, and minority religions.
I arrived late and as I sat down the lights dimmed and images of children marching in the streets with fire hoses and dogs turned on them flashed on a screen. No, this wasn't a scene from a neighborhood block party with hamburgers, kids running through the sprinklers and playing with the neighborhood dog. This was high pressure water knocking down underdeveloped bodies and dogs gnashing their teeth. Why? All because of a peaceful demonstration requesting equal access to water fountains, lunch counters, buses and waiting rooms. Did the punishment fit the perceived crime?
Maybe it wasn't a good idea for me to see this play. I wasn't in the mood for getting all worked up, emotional, and disturbed in my spirit. Then I had a little talk with myself. I told myself I didn't have to get angry. I could choose not to. I could just take it for what it was and accept that there is still more work to do and still. . .
PUT ON FOR MY CITY. . . AND MY STATE.