Thursday, January 15, 2004

Time moves so swiftly ...

I've been joking about the fact that -- on the downhill side of the years past fifty -- Christmas comes every six weeks. Time does speed up as the years pile on. Feel breathless at times from the effects of the rate of change. The collapsing of time this weekend is having a strong effect on me, trying to remain contemporary while being asked to dip into years past, causes some shift in the fault lines of age -- and I'm feeling just a bit off balance... .

Tomorrow morning at ten o'clock the West County Times reporter will come to do a profile for release in Monday's edition. The photographer will come at around one to do his thing.
At 4:30 I'll attend a meeting with a group created by the Redevelopment Agency's Rosie project to go over ideas for signage for the areas leading to the new national park. At six we'll leave for San Jose and the Democratic Convention. The important evening event is the convening of the Black Caucus at seven-thirty. This will give me some idea of what issues will be involved in the creation of the platform. These discussions are rich and often contentious and never dull.

Have already decided to skip Saturday's agenda in favor of attending David Pierson's memorial service. That will plant me firmly in the past -- but it will help me to get into the space from whence the speech must come. However, the leap-frogging between such emotional levels is dizzying. I'm hopeful that this will enhance and not hurt my ability to deliver my thoughts at the Monday event. It is a tremendous opportunity to share that trajectory I've lived through, beginning with that naive young frightened mother, and ending with the return to Walnut Creek as a person of note. And I say that with more of a sense of wonder than of false pride. There's just not room in my life for that.

It took many good and not so good people all leaning together into the winds of constructive change to make that possible. Dr. King was surely one, but then so were a lot of ordinary black men, women, children, who were willing to lay their lives on the line for the right to vote and for the right to have the kinds of educations that would lift them out of poverty (didn't do so well with that one, did we?). African Americans throughout the country, and a lot of good "people-of-no-color" came together to bring about the change that I'm now enjoying. A lot of those folks are still living in the suburbs all over the nation, and some that I know are still working hard to break down the barriers that divide us. Meanwhile, I chose in the late Seventies to return to the inner city to do my work -- and all else has blossomed from that decision. I've never regretted it for a minute.

I'd give anything to be able to sit down with Dr. King, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Fanny Lou Hamer, and yes, Malcolm X, to give a report and get their feedback. It is so humbling to recall the sacrifices those heroes made during those torturous years. I so regret not being able to let them know that little people like me listened and learned, and that forty years later -- we're still fighting the good fight -- with a bit more sophistication garnered from years of working behind those doors they opened for us to move through.

But their work and ours is far from finished. I'm sure that we all know that. Assessing that unfinished agenda and finding ways to address it will surely take up the balance of my life, and perhaps those of my children -- and maybe yours... .

But first there's a war to stop, an environment to save, and a country in political chaos to somehow re-orient. And maybe the problem is that we haven't the time or the capacity to achieve all that if we don't take them on simultaneously. I fear the fall into Fascism and Corporatism and away from the path toward world peace and racial harmony for which Dr. King gave his life. I'm far less hopeful that we will back away from the edge in time for me to witness this transformation, personally. Except that -- just maybe -- this awesome rate of change will work in our favor. Do you suppose?

(Maybe I just wrote the closing remarks for Monday's speech...)