Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tuition Thoughts

David James here
June 14, 2008

Some of us had some discussion while on the trip about tuition issues at IU South Bend. I promised a "piece." Here HERE is a link to it, my first try at it. Responses to this blog or, if you are interested in building on this discussion.

I did the Underground Railroad program at the Charles Black Center "on the Lake" here in South Bend yesterday. I played a black Buffalo Soldier. In addition to my slogan, "Blacks Come In All Colors" that I used to cover my obvious whiteness, I also described the contributions of blacks who settled, and helped others to settle the West. I played the fiddle, and sang "Rally 'Round the Flag," an old Civil War song, in which the refrain, repeated over and over, is "shouting the battle cry of 'freedom'." So I made it that the last word the children heard--about fifty-odd in groups of ten--and sang, was "freedom." More thoughts on the children, their demeanor and knowledge levels on a later post. For now, keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So I'm back home and I've had some time to decompress. I haven't posted anyting the whole trip, maybe it's because I was enjoying the journey and the people, maybe it's because I wasn't sure what to say but I can tell you that there will be other posts after this. I loved this trip and the people that experienced it with me. We learned together, we grew together and I hope that we will stay together. I think that it would be really hard not to after sharing something as powerful as this. I hope that everyone got something out of the trip, whether it was what they wanted or not. I got many things out of it, way more than I expected and I'm glad. I still can't believe I'm home, and I'm prepared to leave at the drop of a hat if someone were to say "the trip has been extended we still have another week." I'd be gone. I miss our home on wheels, the bus that became a roaming apartment building where all the tenants shared the same destination but were on different journeys. Tony, our driver, who learned a lot as well and always had a joke will be missed. I think if I play my cards right we're gonna go back to Greenwood, MS and go on an adventure. Good Times... I need everyone to bring it in one more time. 1..2..3...

The Audio CD

Tuesday, May 27, 1:30AM
David James here

I have re-mastered the Freedom Summer 08 disc, to get rid of some background noise and make all the cuts equal volume. I also have re-done the liner notes to correct some mistakes and make it prettier. I will also email everyone and let them know to pick them up from Dr. T., where they'll be stashed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nashville, TN

The sun was shining from morning til evening on our last day of the tour in Nashville, TN. We began at Fisk University (founded in 1866) and visited the Fisk Chapel where some of the student demonstrations in the 1960s began. We then went to the site of Rev. Kelly Miller's First Baptist Church, which was demolished to make way for a freeway. Despite the long uphill slope, the whole group make it into downtown where we saw the Walgreen's drugstore where some of the sit-ins took place and the steps of the Davidson County Courthouse where Diane Nash asked Mayor Ben West a question that marked the beginning of the end of the apartheid system in Nashville. On this day with some free time, some of us enjoyed the water features, which cooled us off. Lunch was on our own and then we met Mr. John Siegenthaler at the Civil Rights Room of the Nashville Public Library. He told of his life and his experiences with the Freedom Riders. The evening ended with a quick stop at Vanderbilt University and dinner at the Calypso restaurant. I am grateful to have had such a great group of students and I thank you for making the organizing of this trip worthwhile. I look forward to your journals and any additions to the blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birmingham, AL

Today we went to Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham and toured the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, an excellent civil rights museum, which also contains the history of race and labor relations in Birmingham. I was especially impressed with the oral history collection which can be accessed by touch screens in the resource room. The art gallery also added another beautiful dimension to the tour.

Another phase of the movement was the Freedom Rides, which came to Birmingham in 1961. After we finished at the museum, Katherine Burke-Brooks met us and talked about her experiences as a Freedom Rider. She shared many details that made her experience vivid to us. She also spoke of her work with Robert F. Williams, a little-known, but very interesting NAACP leader in North Carolina, who championed self-defense. We wished we could have had more time with her.

We also visited the 16th Baptist Church, which was the organizing center for the demonstrations where thousands of children marched out into Kelly Ingam Park. They were met with dogs and fire hoses and the children are memorialized in that park. So are the four little girls who were killing by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church. We went to the photography studio and art gallery of Chris McNair, the father of one of those girls, Denise McNair. She will not be forgotten because of the beautiful photographs of her father and the delicious food catered by her sister Kimberly Brock. We at dinner at the studio and then rode on to Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Tony Vaughn, our bus driver has driven faithfully and skillfully through these twisting, turning southern roads and even up to the hotel high above Birmingham, where we watched an amazing sunset. Thank you Mr. Tony!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Montgomery, Alabama and Albany, Georgia

After visiting Brick-A-Day, where we photographed the Freedom Summer 2004 brick, we found the modern-day movement alive at the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition to their moving Civil Rights Memorial sculpure and museum, they are doing important work today, defending Mexican guest workers and so much more. See their website and considering joining them

I am tired, but I wanted to post of few photos of Montgomery. We met Arlam Carr, Jr., son of Mrs. Johnnie Carr, who passed away this year. We remember her and are grateful her son is carrying on her tradition of meeting with Freedom Summer classes.

We also had reports on the steps of the capitol and on the Freedom Riders. In the evening we crowded into my room and shared the parts of the trip that have made the greatest impact on us.

In Albany, GA today, we heard Rutha Harris and Charles Sherrod. Ms. Harris's singing was as incredible as ever and Mr. Sherrod gave more good insights into organizing and into nonviolence training.

Tonight we have arrived safely in Birmingham, AL, just in time to watch the sunset over the city from the hotel's garden terrace. I am tired, but happy.

-Dr. T

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Take Off Your Thirsty Boots and Stay for a While. . .

Tuesday, 1AM, May 20. David James here.

These photos are described below.

Thirsty Boots, by Eric Andersen, is the song of the day for me. HERE is my version of it, recorded in the motel room here in Montgomery, while the emotion is still fresh in my mind, on the mighty Macintosh. We’ll dedicate this to all my Freedom Summer friends, but especially to Lola, who had a hard day. it really epitomizes my love for those people of yesterday who did what they did for us. Some of them are still alive; this is also for the love of them. Here's the words:

1 You've long been on the open road, you've been sleeping in the rain,
From dirty words and muddy cells your clothes are smeared and stained,
But the dirty words and muddy cells will soon be hid in shame
So only stop to rest yourself ‘til you are off again


So take off your thirsty boots and stay for a while,
Your feet are hot and weary, from a dusty mile,
And maybe I can make you laugh, maybe I can try,
I'm just looking for the evening, and the morning in your eye.

2 So tell me of the ones you saw as far as you could see
Across the plain from field to town a-marching to be free
And of the rusted prison gates that tumbled by degree
Like laughing children, one by one, they look like you and me [ch]

3 I know you are no stranger down the crooked rainbow trails
From dancing cliff-edged shattered sills of slandered, shackled jails
For the voices drift up from below as the walls they're being scaled
Yes, all of this, and more, my friend, your song shall not be failed. [ch]

Yesterday we drove the route of the Selma to Montgomery March, the third try, on March 21, 1965. We stopped by Viola Liuzzo's memorial. I remember her murder from when I was a young boy.

Yesterday (Sunday, May 18) we ended our day’s journey at the 1st Baptist “Brick-a-day” Church on North Ripley Street in Montgomery. Now, I wrote this whole bit, Friday, about how I was already missing Mississippi. Little did I (we) know the reception in store at the Brick-a-day Church. [Now, for them what ain’t in the know, this church was led from 1952-1961 by Ralph David Abernathy. It dates back to 1867. It burned down, and the pastor, Andrew Stokes built it by exhorting his flock to bring one brick each day for the new building, hence the nickname.] So we walk into this place—I’m missing Mississippi, right—and there on either side of the pulpit are movie screens with the I.U. South Bend crest (photo #2), and “welcome.” The church is full of people there for US, and for the next three hors we get a program from Pastor E. Baxter Morris, Dot Posey Jones (hopefully photo #3), an old timer, talking about the movement and all the great figures, including E.D. Nixon (read about HIM)—more about her later—history of the church by Karen Pugh (#3), then a long and captivating address by Montgomery’s “beloved couple,” the Reverend Bob and Jeannie Graetz (photo #4), 80 years of age and still (nonviolently) kicking ass. Oh, but that wasn’t the end children! Mrs. Posey-Jones sat down at the piano, D.K. Frizette (I hope I’ve got his name right, if not someone tell me) shepherds the combined Children’s (photo # 1) (and speakinawhich, those children were mighty well behaved during the service), Youth, and Adult Choirs to the choir balcony in the front of the church, and they proceed to do two numbers. HERE is a link to my RESOURCE PAGE where they are. (Look for 5/18 Keep Hope Alive, and Go Ye Now In Peace). If you can, listen on earphones and/or play them LOUD. I recorded them on a tiny digital machine 4”x 1”. Had I known what was in store, I would have rigged up the whole rutabaga, but this recording will suffice.
I’m telling you, I was struck speechless, thunderstruck, tears coursing, awestricken, dumbstruck, you name it. Only two other times in my crabby-auld-61-year life has that happened in such a setting. The first was when I was in seventh grade, and my eighth grade sister and the St. Thomas Moore elementary school choir sang the first harmony number they had ever worked up , with their beautiful children’s’ voices I thought I was listening to angels sing. The second was in 3rd Baptist Church in South Bend in 1984, during the Jesse Jackson for President campaign when we had a Jesse rally, and this five-man, with four-piece band group did a spiritual set that so rocked the house that women were fainting. Oh, brothers and sisters, I almost got religion that day. But Sunday, May 18 has taken the cake for all time. Listen to the MP3s from the link above. Simple lyric line: in the first, “keep hope alive got to keep hope alive.” In the second, “Go Ye Now in Peace.”

[Now, dad-gummit! I swore when I started out tonight I wasn’t going to write forever and I’m not. I HAVE to get to bed, I was nodding out this afternoon at the Rosa Parks Museum. So I’m going to quit writing, post this thing and figure out how to do the HTML all over again, and go to bed. Nitey-night. Kim and Ethan I love you.]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beautiful Sunday

The marchers in 1965 endured Bloody Sunday. Thanks to them and the churches who supported the movement, we experienced a Beautiful Sunday with a church service that some of us attended at Brown Chapel A.M.E., and a program in the afternoon by First Baptist or "Brick a Day" church in Montgomery, AL. I enjoyed singing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" in the morning and listening to the singing of "Keep Hope Alive" and a Peace song sung by the children's choir at Brick a Day. We were astonished and humbled by the warm welcome we received at Brick A Day, where we were honored guests for a special program on Rev. Graetz's 80th birthday. Thank you Rev. James Jackson, Mrs. Dorothy Posey-Jones and Pastor E. Baxter Morris for welcoming us.