Thursday, January 19, 2006

Martin Luther King

Does anyone else feel especially compeled to ensure their children experience the Martin Luther King Holiday like I do?

For years, I've dragged my ragamuffins to East Knoxville, an hour's drive now from Loudon, to watch the community MLK parade. Austin East's marching band is always my favorite part; they've got something funky and they're not afraid to use it. Politicians, classes, churches, and clubs wave huge and serious MLK faces and "I have a dream" posters on sticks. There are more tricked out, pimped up, thumping rides cruising down Martin Luther King Boulevard than you've ever seen in one place. Everyone throws candy. Somebody usually hands out children's books. I love the bold colors displayed by participants.

Tator had guitar lessons Monday morning of the parade, so I scrambled to find some other event to honor King's memory. I'm so glad I did. Knoxville College, Knoxville's historic struggling black college, hosted an MLK concert. Knoxville Chamber Orchestra and a huge celebration choir put on a show. I'm not great at guessing people numbers, but there may have been 70 animated singers. The choir and orchestra teamed up and played separately. A few soloists knocked my socks off with their powerful voices. The first, an elegant woman performing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand", made the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end with the rise and fall of her dramatic voice. Her range was absolutely astounding. At five years old, Pooh Bear didn't understand why everyone kept interrupting her song in the middle with clapping and "Come on, sing it now". "Mommy," she whispered, "Shouldn't everyone wait to the end to clap?"
Pooh Bear also giggled when she saw a gigantic man with a tiny viola come in and proudly sit down on stage, "Mommy, that violin is too small!"
Wise One loved an instrumental African tune which sounded like rain in a jungle at times. "Mom, I wish I could play violin like that."
Tator took it all in. So did I. Why do I always cry at "We Shall Overcome"?

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