Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Marsalis on Hope and New Orleans

While the unfortunate words of Mayor Nagin have been capturing the headlines, my daughter IMed me from New Orleans two nights ago, thrilled by the words of Wynton Marsalis before his concert on Martin Luther King Day. She said it was the best speech she's ever heard. It appeared on the Tulane website yesterday - here are a few excerpts, but you should invest a few minutes in reading its inspirational entirety, or watching the video:
Dr. King worked in the shadow of slavery and discrimination. We are in the shadow of the worst natural disaster to ever befall America.

What better way to celebrate him than by rising to a challenge?
. . .
Most of you have returned at a time when many would have stayed away. And now that you are here, you have the opportunity to set a new tone, not only for New Orleans, but for our country. Remember, many a revolution started with the actions of a few. For example, only 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence of which Ben Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” A few hanging together can lead a nation to change.

You know, we love to patronize young people with slogans like “the young will lead the way” – when actually, the young very seldom lead anything in our country today. It’s been quite some time since a younger generation pushed an older one to a higher standard.
. . .
Don’t be disheartened by the destruction of the hurricane or by political ineptitude or even by the apathy of others. Remember, we are all home. That is why I urge you not to let this moment pass without sending a clear message to your peers and elders around the world, “New Orleans will be rebuilt, and it will be rebuilt with an intensity, with an intelligence, with an impatience and with a freshness that only serious young people can bring.” One of the great lessons of the Civil Rights Movement – when the minds and hearts of enough citizens are focused on change – America changes very quickly.
. . .
Look around the room…and I want you all to understand that there are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. They are afraid of change…some of these forces are even within you. But I’m here to tell you, when young folks are motivated to action, when they act with insight, soul and fire, they can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation. It’s time somebody woke us up.
People asked whether I was nervous to have my daughter return to New Orleans. I'm not. What better place for someone as strong, compassionate, smart, determined and wise as she?


Blogger pomegranate said...

Begin sappiness:

Your love for your daughter is so inspiring to me.

End Sappiness.

1/18/2006 10:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home