Entering the MLK Memorial, Kim and I were immediately struck with the realization, we are the only white European types visible in the entire exhibit area. Unaccustomed to this occurrence, we spoke later about this unforeseen moment and how befitting it was, providing us with a small taste of what minority cultures must experience every day of their lives. That being a poignant aside... the true transformative event was to follow.
I would surmise that most of you have not had the opportunity to visit the MLK National Park; so, please allow me to briefly describe the venue. Upon entering, one progresses through 6 or 7 circular carousels, each filled with history of a similar epochal time period, slavery, emancipation, reconstruction, Jim Crow, civil rights and I would now suspect, the effort to restrict voting. Each epochal period outlines the excesses of abuse endured by your brothers and sisters of African descent... through effective use of various media and technology. Beginning with the first slave ship of 1619, docked at Jamestown bearing survivors of the first horrific, transatlantic journey, each successive carousel brought Kim and me closer to the unsettling present, in which we live.
From the first moment of our virtual journey, it was clear; if we were to comprehend the incomprehensible it would not happen through the mind, it could only be accessed through the heart. Only through an authentic attempt to empathize...with allowances for genuine release of emotions... could one begin to envisage 400 years of horror perpetrated on black, African American slaves. Tears of contrition were unavoidable as Kim and I tried to make sense of the irony represented by the cruelty one of God’s created children could inflicted upon another... arguably, to this very moment in history.
While standing at the 4th or 5th carousel, I looked at Kim who had tears streaming down her cheeks, tears that made mine even more difficult to repress, I caught someone from the corner of my eye who appeared to make a gesture in our direction. Not wishing to stare and reveal my “manly tears,” I looked down for a moment but curiosity compelled me to again look up. Confused, I witnessed a wonderful woman, pleasant, warm and animated, mouthing words in our direction from a distance away. Her first attempt was lost on me, likely due to my emotional condition and inability to read lips. However, her second attempt, accompanied by the folding of her arms over her heart... got through to me. She said, THANK YOU!?
Please, “The Rest of the Story” tomorrow.