MLK’s “Drum Major Instinct” Sermon

converting people when he’s in jail

Martin Luther King JrI’ve been looking at some documents from The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. There are many pieces, some handwritten notes, telegrams, as well as some audio clips, and the like.

I glommed onto “The Drum Major Instinct.” It is his sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA on February 4, 1968. That was exactly two months before his death in Memphis, TN.

I won’t get into what he meant by the title. You can read that for yourself. But I found this section interesting:

“The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I’m in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem.

“And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it.

“And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, ‘Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.’

“And I said, ‘You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes)

Privilege

“‘And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march…'”

“And not only does this thing go into the racial struggle, it goes into the struggle between nations. And I would submit to you this morning that what is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy.

“And if something doesn’t happen to stop this trend, I’m sorely afraid that we won’t be here to talk about Jesus Christ and about God and about brotherhood too many more years. (Yeah) If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around…”

Anyway, you should read the whole thing. Let’s end with this idea from five years earlier in Transformed Nonconformist: “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice peace and brotherhood.”

Adagio for Strings – Samuel Barber

a movement of the String Quartet No. 1, Opus 11 (1936)

samuel barberIt’s Lent. I’m not singing in church because COVID. And it makes me quite sad.

Now Lenten music tends to be melancholy, but it’s a good kind of sad, a reflective type of sad. For instance, give me a good requiem any time, but especially between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The Adagio for Strings began as a movement of the String Quartet No. 1, Opus 11 (1936) by Samuel Barber (1910-1981). It was so effective that it was spun off on its own. Is there anything sadder than Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings? I don’t think so, But, with some reimagining, I could be wrong.

It was broadcast over the radio at the announcement of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, and on television at the announcement of John F. Kennedy’s. Albert Einstein and Princess Grace of Monaco’s funerals featured the theme. It was performed at Last Night of the Proms in 2001 at the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks, and in Trafalgar Square following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Listen

And it is such an adaptable piece, which has been arranged for solo organ, clarinet choir, woodwind band, and, as Agnus Dei, for chorus with optional organ or piano accompaniment, among others. It’s been used in everything from the movie Platoon to The Simpsons television show.

So, if it can also be modified to be dance music, I reckon that’s the strength of the composition. In most any iteration, as someone wrote, “There is a depth in such music that reaches deep down in human soul.”

Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Eos Sextet – Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Not a string to be found.

Choral version of Agnus Dei sung to the theme. Performed by The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.

Dover Quartet. Usually, it’s the final cadence of a piece that gets to me. But for the Adagio, it’s about 3/4 of the way through. In this iteration, between 5:30 and 6:00.

The so-called “new normal”

everyone can toil from home?

social distancing instrumentsIt may well be true, but I bristle at the term the “new normal”. It seems so defeatist. Meanwhile, I make my peculiar weekly trek to the grocery store during the “old people’s time” of 6 to 7 a.m.

What I’ve observed is this: People walking their dogs tend to head to the street when I am strolling on the sidewalk. I appreciate the effort. Perhaps they have friendly canines who want to be petted. That would mean I might get too close to the owner.

The irony in physical distancing is that little old ladies still avoid me. But it’s not because they think I’m going to mug them, but because they think I might infect and kill them. Progress, I guess?

I’ve spent so much effort doing a pas a deux with the folks stocking the produce that I manage to forget to get bananas. (“COVID-19 makes me bananas.”) Meh, still no TP. Heck, no paper products of any type. I may actually NEED some by the end of May.

And my checkout mojo’s all out of whack from social distancing, as I wait until the person in front of me is nearly done before putting my items on the conveyor belt. I almost neglected to get my discount card scanned, and I nearly forget to put the credit card in the appropriate slot.

Work all day

The ability to learn from home is great and remarkable. But because the technology is available, my wife was scheduled for THREE hour-long meetings one day this past week. One was canceled, but still. Just because you CAN schedule meetings does not mean you must.

My wife is working harder now online than she did as an in-person ENL teacher. Between the noon and 2 pm meetings, a parent returned her call. She barely ate lunch. Oh, and she also had a church meeting that night, with our pastors canceling their long-planned sabbatical.

Newsweek suggests that the coronavirus will “change how we work forever.” And not necessarily for the better. If everyone can ostensibly toil from home, then we won’t need as many snow days. It may make us more “productive”, but at what cost? Americans in general already suck at the work/life balance thing.

Mic check, please

Part of my “new normal” regimen involves press conferences, on television every single day. I do not watch them. I’ll get the gist of them from print news. This is entirely a health issue.

If I see him lying that he didn’t say what he said two weeks ago, it will just upset me. If I read that he’s prevaricating, it’s much less toxic to me. No less reprehensible, just less aggravating.

Besides, if he’s going to boast about TV ratings, as he berates the media as thousands are dying, why watch? Some of my friends want media outlets to stop covering him. I’m ambivalent. For every four bits of dissembling, he says one thing actually useful and more or less true.

And for those who worry that Dr. Anthony Fauci is being silenced or that Dr. Deborah Birx is being too conciliatory, know that they are hostages. But they have what djt wants — “credit, adulation, the appearance of scientific expertise. And their survival means our survival.” So if AF is less prickly or DB more diplomatic, they’re playing the long game of being heard.

The foolish heteronymic post

reflects the creativity of the human race

heteronymBecause I have little better to do on April 1, here’s something I found in my email from years ago.

Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Some other purloined riff

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?

PLEASE take the 2020 census

not the usual place of residence

Census 2020 buttonPlease complete your Census 2020 form online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation to respond arrives. Visit my2020census.gov to begin. Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings included detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.

I had to leave my dorm!

College students living in on-campus housing are generally counted through their university as part of the Census Group Quarters operation. It tallies all students living in university-owned housing. In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to COVID-19 will still be counted as part of that process. “Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria that states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time.”

Census has asked schools to contact their students and remind them to respond. Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, students living away from home at school should be counted at school in most cases, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, I have been advised that “universities only need to provide what is allowed under FERPA.” The Bureau “will accept ‘incomplete’ responses from universities that are submitting through eResponse and Paper Data Collection.” I suspect that this will mean followup at home for a number of college students.

Second homes

For a Census Data Center discussion how to report for the 2nd home that it is unoccupied, Jeff Behler, Regional Director, Census Bureau provided this information:

After entering the ID or for Non-ID processing the street address, the respondent will be led to a screen that begins the Household Questions with the address of the housing unit.

Including yourself, how many people will be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET on April 1, 2020?

If the housing unit is not the usual place of residence and no one is living there as their usual place of residence, then enter “0”

It will look as though the online form is rejecting that answer because it comes back with a response in red: Please include yourself when reporting the number of people.

This is a soft edit response to ensure you correctly entering “0”. Submit again and the response is:

On April 1, 2020, will you be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET?

Enter the answer “No” and the next screen probes for the reason the unit is vacant

What is the primary reason why no one will be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET on April 1, 2020? The unit will be –

For rent
Rented, not occupied
For sale only
Sold, not occupied
For seasonal, recreational, or occasional use
For migrant workers
Other

Then the online form probes for where you will be living on April 1

Thank you for providing information for 123 MAIN STREET. Since you will not be living or staying at this address on Census Day, you do not need to provide any additional information for it.

Gotta have faith

As the Faithful Census folks note: Our faith teaches that every person has God-given dignity. Therefore everyone deserves to be counted in the 2020 Census. When everyone in our community is counted, we get the federal funds we need for our schools, hospitals, roads, and other essential programs like Head Start, food assistance, and affordable housing.

Responding to the 2020 Census has never been easier because you can choose to respond online, by phone, or mail– and it just takes 10 minutes to respond for your entire household.

And justice

Gayla Tillman, Civic Engagement Coordinator for Georgia Conservation Voters notes:

“The census matters because we need climate protections and solutions for all our communities. Black, Brown, and low-income communities disproportionately feel the effects of polluted air and water and utility burden. An inclusive census will not only tell decision-makers but also climate advocates how to best serve communities that have been traditionally hard to count.

“What’s more, as a descendant of people once lawfully considered property, I consider being counted in the census as personally and politically important to the fight for equity and justice… The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the many ways that working-class people and people of color are vulnerable to economic imbalance.

“The root of what our communities need is investment. That investment begins with knowing where and who people are — the census helps determine how resources are allocated in our country.”

Save your government some money!

If you fill out the form online or by mail, you save the governmental expense of folks needing to call you. If your information is there, no need for an enumerator to come to your house. In the age of COVID-19, no one wants THAT. Please fill out your form ASAP.