We’ve been all sorts of good busy in these parts. We’re doing great overall. Aside from the preponderance of tissues we’re upright, and accounted for. Watching your brown president become your president again must be about as life affirming in the “I can do anything I may ever choose to do” department for a five and eight year old of the same complexion and gender I would imagine. I can’t help but wonder how seeing a woman accept the oath of office might have impacted me thirty-five plus years ago. Here in Maine we also took great pride in the selection of Cuban American poet Richard Bianco as the inaugural poet as well. Hearing all the references to gay rights, climate change, and just about every other equality I can imagine, I felt like a walking goose bump for most of the morning. I feel hopeful. Tremendously hopeful today for the world our children will inherit.
I also had the amazing good fortune to collaborate with several dynamic women and men, young and old and in between, on a celebration honoring Dr. King that families from at least six local elementary schools attended yesterday. The creative portion of my contribution consisted of a staged dramatic reading of Martin’s Big Words by Dorreen Rappaort that I adapted, narrated, and directed with the help of several amazing youth volunteers, and other PTO parents and friends. With three rehearsals in a forty five minute period we pulled it off to an audience of about 250. I was also able to facilitate a little participatory conversation about “big words” as it related to MLK before we wowed the crowd. Afterwords families participated in creating a gigantic mural of dreams (that will be displayed at the City Hall, and travel to several of the participating elementary schools) and were led in a remarkable ongoing drum circle. Right?
I wrote to my co-leader of our “Cross Cultural Committee” of the PTO that this event allowed me to feel as if I answered Dr. King’s call to service in helping to organize and facilitate this event. She wrote back that creating the opportunity for so many youth of color, and families and children to show up and engage in all of these ways was a gigantic source of joy for her too.
If you are wondering how we managed to pull all this off and send the first 75 families that arrived there home with a free copy of Martin’s Big Words while working full time, raising our families, and being in relationship-you should be. It was hard work. I’m not afraid to admit that. But the results were enthralling. The positive reverberations are innumerable. One photographer who was sent to the event without a reporter, took me aside and said; “I am going back to the office and fighting for this story. The looks on folks faces during the play, the drums, all of it? Now that was moving. That is a real story.”
Feeling inspired? Want to do something like this at your local elementary school next year? Great. Find some like minded folks, and get started. Start small. Organize around a great book, and invite to help would be my suggestion. (For a great post with a zillion resources on books to talk about race, check out this post at Rage Against the Minivan). If you are not part of your PTO, now would be a great time to join.
Did you attend, organize, read, compose or experience something that inspired you and yours too this weekend? Share it here, or commit to something you’d like to help make happen next year in the comments, and then come back periodically and share your progress! We’d love to be your cheering squad!