Tuesday, January 31, 2012

From Darkness Into Light

I went to City Hall where people were gathering for a candle light vigil in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. As I approached, I saw a banner with Abe Lincoln, and Mahatma Gandhi. It turned out this was a small group from the Occupy Orlando crowd. The King vigil was gathering inside the rotunda of City Hall where it was warm. Teens were dressed in uniforms as a color guard and drum marching band. The rotunda was packed. Glow sticks were issued to everyone in the crowd. Considered trying to sketch but I knew the political speeches wouldn't take long. Buddy Dyer mentioned that the Circus was in town and we might be walking past elephants that were being kept in the Amway Center garage. I positioned myself near the exit.

The marching band walked out to the street. There were several police cars and motorcycles to block off traffic as we walked towards Parramore. The crowed stretched back for a block and a half. Faces were illuminated with the mysterious fire fly green glow. It was an impressive sight though impossible to catch with a sketch since we were all in constant motion. Terry was at One Eyed Jacks watching a football playoff game with Packer backers. I texted her to let her know where I was going. Our final destination was Shiloh Baptist Church (604 West Jackson Street).

The church filled quickly for an Interfaith celebration of Dr. King's life. I sat near some steel drums, figuring it was a definite sketch opportunity. The steel drummer's did play with their bright red shirts blazing. Someone sat right in front of me shooting video and rather than get annoyed, I realized he made a nice foreground element. Speakers were from a variety of religions, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian. Reverend Jim Coffin gave a surprising keynote speech where he recounted a time in his childhood when his family 0ffered their land to colored people for hunting. Once word spread, people from all over the state came to that land to hunt. Although they considered themselves more liberal than most, they still told jokes that were racially motivated. Change happens slowly and we still have a long way to go.

The closing hymn was, "We Shall Overcome." My sketch was done and I knew that I needed to stand and sing along. The woman in a pew across the isle reached out her hand to me and soon everyone was singing with their hands clasped and raised in joy. "We shall overcome some day. Oh deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome some day."


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