Saturday is reading, running, resting, and playing with Amy day. Digital sabbath.
I was tired from the week and slept for ten hours. I also took a 90-minute nap in the afternoon. I had a good, albeit short (4 loops) run in the morning. I ran ten loops this morning, so getting back in the groove after a week of not feeling great.
My book was John Lewis’ Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. Amy suggested that I read Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, which is in our infinite pile of books (and near the top). Instead, I decided I wanted to read this one first because several other people had suggested it to me after John Lewis died.
It was powerful. While there are elements of memoir in it, Lewis paints a clear vision of the future based on his lifetime of work on civil rights. He regularly tied his vision back to his childhood, his early work alongside Dr. King, and his leadership of organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
While I knew of the principles of nonviolence in the Civil Rights movement, I didn’t understand them. I knew the history of the Freedom Riders. Still, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the physical abuse and violence they encountered while operating with the principles of nonviolent protest.
When I read and reflect on this history, I’m embarrassed, horrified, and furious with elements of White America.
Reading the book by John Lewis inspired me on multiple levels. I know that, in addition to reading Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, I’m going to add some Gandhi to my reading list. If anyone has a suggestion for a great Gandhi book, toss it in the comments.
John Lewis was an American hero. And, his posthumous OpEd in the NY Times, Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, which starts:
Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.
ends with something I wish everyone in the United States would read, ponder, and take action on.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
While I’m reading very little current news right now, I am reading a lot of American history. I’m in a Civil Rights phase that started with Devil in the Grove. I’m sure some of my recent work with Defy Ventures had caused me to dig in deeper into this segment of American history. I know that my reaction to the recent election is reinforcing this.
I was born in December 1965 so the Voting Rights Act had already passed. While I was born in Arkansas I grew up in Dallas, Texas so I was somewhat disconnected from the dynamics of race in the deep south and instead got to experience a different dimension of it since there is generally a Texas version of most things.
I’ve always been confused by the labels Hispanic and Latino and, after living in Boston from 1983 – 1994 and getting a dose of a totally different version of race dynamics than I’d had in Dallas, I realized my upbringing in fashionable far North Dallas was a comfortably privileged one.
Reading a book like March in 2016 helps me realize how far we’ve come as a country, but at the same time reminds me how much more we can and need to do.