The photo says so much. The lady in the wheelchair is Amelia Boynton, last seen portrayed in the film Selma. She was the local leader of the civil rights protests in Selma in ’65. Now her hand is held by the first African-American to become president as she goes once more over the Edmund Pettus … Continue reading Selma 50 years on: one of Obama’s finest speeches
What does it mean to come home? – Home, page 106 Recently, I read the Marilynne Robinson trilogy that begins with Gilead (2004), continues with Home (2008) and concludes with Lila (2014). I don’t think I have read a finer suite of novels. Collectively, in an undemonstrative fashion, they constitute an interrogation of America as a home, … Continue reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy
Peter Kennard , Photo Op, 2006 Increasingly we live in a world where nothing makes any sense. Events come and go, like waves of a fever, leaving us confused and uncertain. Those in power tell stories to help us make sense of the complexity of reality. But those stories are increasingly unconvincing and hollow. So … Continue reading Bitter Lake: helping make sense of complex reality?
Fifty years ago today, on 22 December 1964, Sam Cooke’s iconic ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was released as a single. The song had been recorded in February 1964, and included on Cooke’s album Ain’t That Good News released a few months later. Perhaps more than any other song of its time, ‘A Change Is Gonna … Continue reading A Change Is Gonna Come: 50 years after its release, black Americans still can’t breathe
‘He’s gonna look like your granddad if your granddad can kick your ass.’ Four years ago, Pete Seeger celebrated his 90th birthday party with a sell-out concert at Madison Square Garden. Characteristically, it was a fundraiser for a campaign to which he’d dedicated years of his life: cleaning up New York’s Hudson River. That night, … Continue reading Pete Seeger: he surrounded hate and forced it to surrender
TS Eliot: portrait by Gerald Kelly ‘Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future': the instantly-recognisable opening lines from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets have surfaced and re-surfaced in my conciousness this past couple of weeks. They occurred to me while reading Stephen King’s recent gripping novel 11.22.63, which is but the latest … Continue reading Footfalls echo in the memory
Solomon Northup was my name! Steve McQueen’s magisterial film Twelve Years a Slave opens with Solomon Northup, the free man kidnapped and sold into slavery, whittling a stick into a makeshift pen and attempting to write a plea for freedom in self made ink. This powerful image prefaces the story of a man who endures … Continue reading 12 Years a Slave: ‘I don’t want to survive. I want to live’