Monday, September 10, 2007
Highlander Center, and Asheville, NC
this past labor day, i spent with generations of organizers and activists at the Highlander Research and Education Center's 75th Anniversary in New Market, TN.
We celebrated 75 years of organizing with poor white folk in rural Appalachia, black folk throughout the South, and more recently, with some Latino leaders in the rural South, using tools of cultural organizing, participatory research, popular education, grounded in local and regional history and culture - that is, invested in a sense of place. and working to ensure that language and culture are shared, and are not barriers to communication.
We are blessed.
So much music, a depth of relationship between music and performance and organizing and people's hearts, a body-knowledge of when which songs mights be appropriate. And new songs from old ones, playful floreos on lyrics and melodies and layers of harmony.
it's been years since i've been to the appalachian mountains, these rolling hills, their layers of blues and greens and purples.
tents, fans, ribs, song.
slave songs, dulcimer songs, banjo and bluegrass songs. freedom songs. jazz and spoken words as song. worksongs. love to the movement songs.
i met a woman with whom i shared the ribbon dance. and i treasure our meeting, watching the shared beauty of that silk ribbon moving in air. i appreciated that she saw the power of it,
and thanks to monica for showing us a little bit of the knoxville that she loves - the yummy sangria place, and Calhoun's, the BBQ place on the river near the boardwalk. flying out of knowville, i stopped at a little nature center called Ijams (pronounced I-yam, like ayam, chicken in bahasa indonesia-melayu). walked along the river, it's big and flat. i forgot how big the water is here ...
it is 1.5 h from knoxville to asheville, nc.
asheville, nc, is a little center for yippie's, new restaurants, all the trappings of fancy city living.
we are in the blue ridge, in the great smoky mountain range, this is cherokee land, where we shared cornmeal and milky way stories, and the stories of how the turkey vulture flew up over the soft earth when the turtle came out of the water, and in the wingbeats of the vulture flying north, drew up the earth into the ranges of mountains that run from what is now georgia through upstate new york.
it is a place of big rocks and broad rivers.
an old-new place for latinos and other immigrants and refugees, from south africa and mali, mexico and honduras, vietnam, and colombia.
our companeras in asheville. are doing amazing work.