Michael Dowling and Medicine Wheel’s Beacon to the Dream , Photo © 2013 Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo
additional photos by Matt Samolis
A few more photos by Joe McKendry
• The day I entered a bar in downtown Louisville, KY ; a young draftee in full military winter dress uniform and after ordering a drink three times to no avail, a waitress said. “We don’t serve you here.”
• The school day during the times of Boston school desegregation when returning from a wonderful recording studio day trip I had arranged as a part of my JazzEd Program, I and my group of kids from East Boston’s Otis school were talking about our days experiences when a group of thugs on the corner chose to address me with the “N” word through our open windows and silenced the whole group.
These are but a few of the “death by a thousand bites” many African American males experience daily, however yesterday something surprising and very positive happened that will occupy my memory alongside the above mentioned negatives.
Looking to get a bit of fresh air before the days close I went to Castle Island where there was a large crowd assembled and everywhere blue lanterns lit by flashlights. I found that I’d stumbled upon a large celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther Kings “I Have A Dream” speech. (Put together by Medicine Wheel and kudos to them.) For the next hour and a half, in the company of a decidedly multicultural but majority white crowd from Southie, I joined them in listening to speakers and watching a showing of the film of that speech on the walls of Fort Independence. The speakers emphasized “Southie is changing” and indeed it would be hard to imagine such a gathering years ago when I was an artist circuit-rider trying to help kids understand our commonalities rather than our differences.
Then as the film ended folks picked up their lanterns to walk together around Pleasure Bay, I strolled down the hill in the crowd when a young white male touched my hand and said “I’m sorry”. I thought he was apologizing for bumping into me but then he did it again. When I turned my face in his direction he said, “I’m sorry for what my people did to your people. I’m sorry!
I was so touched and shocked I couldn’t find words for an appropriate response. I mumbled something but I really needed to give him more in return for such a soul barring statement. I doubt that I’ll ever see this man again but I’ll put this out into the universe and hope the energy will bless him somehow. Young man, no need to be sorry. Go forth with that feeling in your heart and strive from this day forward, to make the world a better place. Your words last night healed a few of my scars from times gone past and the memory of you courageous statement will exist as a bright light penetrating the darkness of past inequities.