Friday, October 03, 2003

Met the camera crew and the NPS people at the memorial as planned ... .

There were a few nervous moments, but the edginess passed quickly. Spoke to Rick Smith of the national park service as we were walking toward the memorial, "...I do appreciate the fact that you and Judy Hart continue to seek me out when I'm such a wild card, and you never are sure what I'll say or do." He laughed and said reassuringly, "that's why we call you."

That removed any sense that I would be expected to spout the company line. After all, I knew absolutely nothing about the Ford Company grant, had only heard of it yesterday and knew none of the details. However, Ford was sponsoring this nationwide campaign, and surely had the right to put their imprint on it. It would be interesting to see how this balance would be worked out. Needn't have worried. Judy signaled with a subtle frown and ever so slight shake of the head to ignore any pressure that might rise, and it was freeing.

As it turned out, most of the questions were generic, of the kind that one might expect. Didn't feel particularly sparkling in my answers, but did feel at least adequate. But -- you should have been around for the Betty-to-Betty repartee on the drive home. I was brilliant! Isn't that always the way? Cameras and mikes were gone and the party was over, but brain was deeply involved in instant replay, complete with the benefit of appropriate editing.

This evening I attended a party hosted by a member of the Richmond City Council, interesting man with a deep respect for historic preservation. Learned from Judy Morgan, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, that the pieces taped today will be edited and aired nationally on November 11th. She told me that they will be used to invite Rosie's all across the country to participate in the collection of oral histories on an interactive website. Interesting project. I am surely only the first of many who will be interviewed over the coming year.

It pleases me that the nation will get to see the Rosie memorial, a wonderful structure celebrating the woman of the home front workforce. It was designed by two San Francisco women. The work is 400 feet long; the approximate length of a victory ship. But you'll see it when the piece airs in November. This may be the first national exposure, and I can't wait for that to happen.

Second thoughts? Of course.

When asked why I believe that the Ford work is important, my answer is something I can't recall -- even these few hours later.

But, on the freeway:
" is important because this work gives us a chance to revisit a time when racial bigotry was rampant, but to now revisit that history with a sensitivity informed by all of the events that followed -- the desegregation of the armed forces, the March on Washington, Rosa Parks, Dr. King, Selma, the Voting Rights Act -- Birmingham, Freedom Summer of '64, Medgar Evers, two dead Kennedys, Vietnam and the international peace movement it spawned, the birth of the United Nations. Richmond was the starting place for a great social experiment that drastically changed the lives of women, and it's still going on. What happened here may have served to jump-start the new revolution, or at least helped to shape the future that we're now living in. This new park and the old Ford Plant mark the birthplace of that dramatic social change."

Wish I'd thought of all that this afternoon. But isn't that always the way?