Saturday, April 3, 2010

Necessary Trouble

Today I watched the documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution which opened with U.S. Congressman John Lewis relating how is elders always encouraged him to stay out of trouble, but when he first got arrested while fighting for civil rights in the 1960s he felt free--that fighting for what is right is "necessary trouble."  The documentary features interviews with people who participated in the numerous boycotts,  sit-ins, freedom rides, and marches that brought about revolutionary changes in American race relations, both well-known and not so well-known.  Special emphasis is placed on the music and songs activists used to sustain themselves during the movement, including performances of those songs by contemporary artists--John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, Joss Stone, The Roots, TV on the Radio, and Mary Mary.

Although I've seen numerous films, both narrative and documentary, about this era of our history, I felt particularly moved by this film and the accounts of violence these peaceful protesters endured just to obtain basic rights.  Back then, Congressman Lewis and others were beaten when they attempted to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  Just two weeks ago, several people yelled racial slurs at Congressman  Lewis as he prepared to vote on health care reform.  Tomorrow, in addition to Easter, it will be the 42nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death.  We've come so far, but we easily forget how to be civil.  While all change requires struggle, we'd be wise to remember our humanity.

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