In My Write Mind
***Soundtrack--"Can't Knock the Hustle", Jay-Z featuring Mary J. Blige***
5 Things About My Trip to Atlanta...
1. Big shout out to general manager Wendy Williams and the crew over at WCLK at Clark-Atlanta. They took care of us and are helping us spread the word about the Town Hall Meeting on the 17th. Their suggestions and willingness to help will go a long way in making the event successful. Thank you!
2. To Ms. Mumford and the Atlanta Public Schools, who agreed to send over 500 high school juniors and seniors to the Town Hall AND agreeing to feed them all before they come. This...is gonna be a great event. I can feel it.
3. To Ms. Jackson of the department of Sociology for attempting to get Samuel L. (a Morehouse grad) for our panel. It's a longshot, but hey, if I can learn all three verses to Lift Ev'ry Voice & Sing, then I'm confident she can make it happen. She and Ms. Stoney were the moments of levity I needed after those 20 meetings in 48 hours. I don't need to see another suit for a while...lol
4. To my girl Lynnette, whom I happened to run into while trying to find a cab downtown. Lynnette works for BET and was filming a SPEAK NOW! voting registration segment near the Underground and I literally walked across her set. It's definitely a small world. lol Much love to her for taking me and my colleague around on Friday and Saturday. And those shish-kabobs, the breakfast, the, awww hell ALL THE FOOD...she is the best!!!
5. To the weather...85 degrees every day, with Saturday being the best of the three days. Not a cloud in the sky. There weren't many places I would have rather been than there last weekend. Atlanta, see you in two weeks!
Yes, the meetings all went well. We met with congressmen, radio show producers, marketing gurus, sociology professors, career planning and placement directors, law school officers, Urban League presidents, public school superintendents, entrepreneurs, alumni, fraternities and sororities, ministers, choir directors, security guards, deans of Humanities and Social science, vice presidents of academic affairs, artists, singers, poets, archivists, historians, and groundskeepers. You name it, we met with them. All in the name of the town hall meeting scheduled for November 17th. All in the name of the National Urban League. Where I work. Seriously, I have no voice left.
And so I type...
***Soundtrack: "You Don't Know Me", Ray Charles***
Bare feet. Biscuits. Peach cobbler. Crickets. His little brother born. His brother run. Dirt roads. Laundry hung on the line. Corn fields. Piano keys.
His mother cheated out of hard earned wages. Leftovers. Rain. His mother cry. His little brother die.
These are all things that Ray Charles Robinson saw in the seven years before he went blind. The former are things we sometimes take for granted. The latter, hopefully, are things we never have to see within our lifetimes.
Those scenes, realized in the motion picture depicting a portion of Ray's life and times, are the ones that will walk with me forever. Because they forced me to learn. To learn about Ray, of course, but also about myself.
During the 2 hour and 40 minute drama about a man everyone knows for his incredible contributions to music, covering all genres from pop to country to gospel to soul, we learned not just about his music, or his womanizing, or his family life.
We learned about a man who literally and figuratively "walked in darkness" every day since he was 7; a man who refused to let his impairment get in the way of his career; a man who refused to use a cane but instead used drugs as a crutch; a man whose songs were his own life story.
We learned about his battles with the authorities and with the state where he was born; his struggles with dealing, not with blindness, but with watching his brother die as he helplessly stood by and the demons that the experience summoned. We learned of a mother's strength as she made it her life's purpose to ensure that her son not be viewed as a cripple, instilling it in his mind every chance she could.
We learned of an extraordinary gift of song that made "sinners" out of strict religionists, that made the stories of country music come alive, that made your soul shake with every stroke of the keys. Ray Charles Robinson was a ladies' man, a man's man, a loyal man, a gifted man, but most of all--a tortured man. He was a mentor, a husband, a father, a lover, an artist.
We learned all of this from what we saw during that 2 hours and change. We learned even more from what Ray saw when he was a child, and--even though his eyes were shut down--what he continued to see throughout his lifetime.
Personally, I learned to never let anything get in the way of what I want to accomplish. To use my ability to let my light shine; to use my gifts to succeed instead of cursing myself to failure. I learned that, like Ray, I have what it takes to be the best at what I do. And I learned that, unlike Ray, I can never "cripple" myself by using anything as a mental or emotional crutch. What I saw will force me not to take anything for granted, be it my sight or my family or my friends--or my life.
Sure, Ray Charles Robinson entertained me, throughout the film and throughout my lifetime. More importantly, seeing what he went through forced me to learn about myself.
And that, like those scenes from the film, will walk with me forever.
scribbled by Will at 11/01/2004 03:12:00 PM
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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)
The Write One
Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971. Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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