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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Black History Month

I would like to reprint one of my favorite stories:

John Conyers and Rosa Parks

I heard Mister John Conyers speaking on NPR yesterday. When Congressman Conyers talks, I usually listen. We had the honor of being represented by Mister John Conyers in Michigan's 14th Congressional District for some years towards the end of our residence on the eastern side of Detroit. I voted for him every "biennial".

As time went on, our daughter, who was studying Political Science at the University of Michigan, secured the opportunity to intern for Congressman Conyers for the summer. We drove her down to her rooms at George Washington University with a car full of her belongings. Staying at the Holiday Inn across from the Watergate, my car was broken into; the first and only time that has ever happened.
Of course, if you read Science Fiction, you know it is an old concept that the country boy goes to the Country's - or even the Planet's! - Capital and arrives with wide-eyed wonder... and bad things begin to happen. Sort of a metaphor for the emptiness of most pomp and circumstance surrounding power... there is a sort of sigh that even Power and Magnificence have no traction when it comes to poverty and the crime it engenders.

This story is not about me nor the state of society. It isn't even, strictly speaking, about Mister John Conyers. Oh, the Congressman is in it, all right, but he is not the main point of attention. That point is... well, it's hard to say; I guess it is how different things are to people with a lot of history compared to young people: young folks have a lot of life and they do not archive it, rather they squander sparks of vitality with free hands. History is dead and gone.
Older folks get wiser, save their money and store their understanding of the world: they take the sparks and the conflagrations of the past and create unforgettable mansions of accomplishment. History is a reunion for older folks; it is a party.

Well, rightly so, too, rightly so. It goes to show us that everything we do has consequences, and is important. No act is lost. Even the smallest ripple will travel the ocean and break upon some far beach. There is no such thing as a action without a reaction, and the camp meetings in the future will be filled with our acts of Honor or our acts of Neglect.

One day in Congressman Conyer's office, a call came in from an elderly lady. My daughter got the call as she walked in from the corridor. She had just left the Congressman out in the corridor to come in and get a note pad to take down with her to a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus. No one else seemed to be there, so she picked up.

She put the caller on hold, found her note pad, then returned to the hallway. She asked whether Mr. Conyers wanted to take a call from an old lady right then before going down to the Caucus.
He looked at her with inquiry.
"It's a Mrs. Parks..." she said.
"Ah...!" Mr. Conyers said.
"... Rosa Parks, I think she said." my daughter added.

Mr. John Conyers did go back right then, running heels to head, to get that call. And my daughter learned that not all History was in the sweet bye-and-bye; a whole lot of history is right now. And that's why everything we do is important: it is history in the making.

Now the reason I say this is that, at this time, Mr. Newt Gingrich's office was just down the way, and about this time he had orchestrated a shutdown of the government. I do not forget. Just as Mrs. Rosa Parks discovered her time for Bravery and Honor, so must we. We must be honorable in the midst of dishonor, and we must be controlled in the midst of a madding crowd.
Then we shall overcome.


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