Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Beauty Of Grey

This Saturday the Norwich NAACP holds its 29th Annual Observance of Juneteenth Day in Howard T. Brown Park.

As a kid, I thought when you turned 11, your age was eleventeen in keeping with all the other 'teen' years, so a word like Juneteenth is right up my alley.

For the fishermen who enjoy the Marina at Norwich Harbor, Saturday may be a little more stressful, with (I hope) a heckuva lot more people around and about, but it’s all to celebrate a very good cause.

When you count newspaper headlines and television news reports we are having what seems to be a continuing uptick in the frequency of hateful and hurtful speech as well as harmful and often fatal interactions in almost every corner of our nation. But Norwich, Connecticut, isn’t California, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oregon or a dozen other cities and states. Yet. And that’s probably not an accident.

Let’s not kid ourselves. There's still unresolved sorrow, resentment, fear, anguish and anger all associated with the origins and causes of a system of oppression, slavery, whose end in the United States was first celebrated on June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned the War Between the States had ended months earlier on 9 April and they were now free. 

That was the first Juneteenth Day and one hundred and fifty-two years later, or close to it, will find us together for reasons large and small this Saturday morning starting at about ten and going until we run out of fun at some point later in the day.

There will be a parade, as well as speeches, and lots of other outdoor activities (fingers crossed for great weather), but underlying all the arts and crafts, music and dancing (don't worry, I am supplying none of that), exotic and down-home foods is a serious cultural observance, despite how we often and hard we shout at one another in public debates in every facet of our collective interactions, that helps underscore the actual health and vibrancy of our shared history and heritage.

The farther out in space you go the more alike we look-leading me to wonder if we're not somehow better off maintaining that perspective even when we have all returned to Earth. Look around the globe right now at the unrest in every corner that seems to come down in some way to "my flavor of different is better than yours" whether the fight is about religion, politics or pony rides (checking to see if you were still reading).

Too often the things we do speak so loudly I can't hear what we're trying to say. We are not yet the nation we always strive to be. But we're farther along on that path than we were yesterday and will be even better tomorrow, because of our ability to recognize, and also celebrate our differences while using our diversity as a thread to weave the fabric of our nation and society even more closely together.
-bill kenny

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