CIVILITY, HISTORY, + SONG

Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, has spurred many conversations and thoughtful moments in my life. I listened to the episode, Civility, History & Hope – Vincent Harding in conversation with Krista Tippett – in August and I just can’t seem to get it out of my mind. On my recent trips, I listened to it at least four more times and each time it resonated with more clarity. I have since read the entire transcript and I continue to contemplate the message.

From the program:

“Vincent Harding is a wise voice of history — the history of civil rights. This hour, as part of our Civil Conversations Project, he helps us imagine how the lessons of that time might speak to contemporary American divisions. Martin Luther King’s vision, he reminds us, was spiritually as well as politically vigorous; he aspired in biblical words to a “beloved community,” not merely a tolerant integrated society. And Vincent Harding possesses an infectious hope for the continued unfolding of that possibility, even now. He’s spent recent decades bringing the elders and lessons of civil rights into creative contact with new generations. As we navigate rancor in our time, he says, we can look both to history and again to the margins of society, to young people of courage and creativity.”

I come back over and over again to the thought of the “beloved community,” the feeling of Dr. King and Vincent Harding that the term “civil rights” is not enough – that we as humanity are bigger than that.

Our voice is big, and beautiful and strong.

Vincent Harding:

“I go back to some of the old black preachers, speakers, practices, by putting letters and words together. When I think about Martin, I think about Martin with the three C’s: courage, compassion and creativity. And I think that the stoking of our creative capacities is one of the jobs that is still necessary for us. I’m always talking to my young hip-hop people about the fact that we need some new songs from the hip-hop generation that will speak about the beloved community in whatever terminology they choose now. But we need some music that people can join together in to express their great need and desire for a better world.”

There is a point in the podcast, where Harding is discussing how music fueled and guided the Civil Rights movement. He speaks of a certain “kumbaya moment,” that happened deep in Mississippi. I dare you to listen to this track with dry eyes.

Listen to the interview, sing with the soundtrack, read Is America Possible?, dream…

*Photo above from our dear friend and hero Charles Moore (1931-2010)

 

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