Sunday, June 19, 2005

Juneteenth

On this day in 1999 people from all walks of life, all ages, backgrounds and color gathered in the basement of a building in the Seattle, Central neighborhood. I can't remember where it was exactly that teacher and poet Judy Lightfoot invited us to come to participate in a marathon reading of Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, but that doesn't matter.

What I do remember is the circle of chairs, people coming and going; voices, young, old, dramatic, haltering, jazzy, melodic and operatic reading the lines of characters passing through Ellison's story.
I believe, that we, as an ever changing group, enacted Juneteenth, in our own way, with much of Ellison's musical rhythms of jazz, gospel and ordinary speech.

All of us bound by one author's writing.

Ralph Ellison chose as epigraph these lines by T.S.Elliot:

This is the use of memory:
For liberations -not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past.

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison (author of The Invisible Man), ISBN 0-375-70754-9 published by Vintage Books
Post a Comment