Witness to History?

I recently stood on our little town common with 100 or so other people – also dogs, babies, and pigeons busily vacuuming up whatever bits of food had fallen to the earth.

It was part of a national Stand against Racism event sponsored by the Y, an institution I had never thought to associate with social justice issues before now.

The night before was cold – in the 20s even, which is why people look so bundled up in spite of the leaves on the trees. (It’s been a weird spring all right, hot in March and now all this chilly rain but by noon when gathered the sun was warming things up pretty well.)

I find it fun to look at the pictures you take at an event because they’re so weirdly moment-to-moment.

I mean here’s my friend Karen with her ‘oppose isms’ sign waving to the passing cars. That’s Robin closer to the camera – she’s a pediatrician – and beside her is Nancy. They all looked like that for only a fraction of a second.

Same goes for some of the young people you see here:

This video kills me too, only partly for way the guy who edited it starts humming ‘We Shall Overcome’ right at the end.  It’s gets me too for the lightning-fast glimpses you get of everybody – except for Sandy who directly addresses the camera for 20 or 25 of the 40-second clip. I mean I see only a glimpse of these guys I spend so much time with. I see myself only briefly next to Tristan and his sign. Check it out; it’s super-short:

It’s a homemade video but there it all is, you know? This unblinking witness. I keep looking at it and thinking I’m at Gettysburg in 1864 and we’re about to see Abe Lincoln take off his tall hat to briefly wipe his brow before putting  it back on to deliver that famous address. Call it a Forrest Gump feeling.

Below is a real-life Forest Gump talking to the young guys I spoke of. We all had dinner with him last month at the end of which someone asked him if he felt like the black Forrest Gump because of all he has seen and been part of it.

They said this because he knew Rosa Parks. He marched with Rosa Parks. He was also a bona fide member of the musician’s union when he was only 12. This was long before his 45 years he spent as a thoracic surgeon here at Winchester Hospital.

I keep going back to these images. I mean I was there  at this event. I heard Tobi the fine trumpet player talking with Dr. Gibson the saxophonist about how you keep your lip in shape – yet I was unaware of so much that I now see and hear here in this little harvest of images.

musicians 64 years apart

It just makes you wonder: how does anyone know what really happened? Who did who fire first at Lexington and Concord? Or the Boston Massacre? How do can anyone understand anything when we can see but a fraction of that Bigger PIcture?