We Shall Overcome -- Some Day?

So, I work for a retrograde institution that does not observe Martin Luther King day. Dammit. I called a travel agent -- out of the office for MLK Day. I emailed a museum curator -- closed for MLK Day. Goatdog doesn't have to work today at the ad agency -- MLK Day.

Well, it's not entirely true that the university doesn't observe it. In fact, it observes it, this year, with a series of performing arts events and parties and speakers. Today, it observed it with a lunchtime event with Big Famous speaker (who was good, but oh-so-cautious) and a lot of students and others who spoke with passion and political energy. It made me cry. I had never felt before like I was supposed to be part of the "We" in "We Shall Overcome." This time it didn't occur to me to think that I wasn't, despite everything that separates me from the people who live in true poverty just a few blocks from where I live in relative comfort.

I didn't cry, I didn't feel part of the "We," just on account of the university's non-observance of the holiday, even though this is becoming more scandalous and obscene with each passing year, as museums and ad agencies and travel agencies and everybody else gets with the program. I'd like to know whether this university is the biggest employer of African Americans in the state. It might well be. And as with choosing February to be Black History Month -- that is, choosing the SHORTEST month -- there is symbolic significance to the fact that we can have a lunchtime program, hell, we can have lots of programs over the course of the week, but we can't give working people the damn day off. Well, if the staff had the day off, maybe they wouldn't be around to populate our lunchtime program with faces that aren't pale, thus leaving the rest of us looking ridiculous. Is that the fear?

(I don't actually think it's even true. I think people would still come out to hear the caliber of speakers who come here, maybe especially if they had the day off.)

But the reason I cried and felt part of the "We" is about the state of things in this country, about the daily rollercoaster of hopelessness and optimism. I sure hope we'll overcome. There's no other option.


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