Deep in our hearts we know that if we’re going to ever “live out the true meaning of our creed, that all men are created equal” it will be something that happens between us day to day – in the places we live, in the lives we lead, in the actions we take and the decisions we make – large and small. Yet still we reliably turn toward our television sets and social media when the worst happens, where we know our resentments will be stroked and our fury stoked. Imagine if in times of crisis, instead of separating, we gathered? Who might we be then?
We cannot stay disconnected from each other until a time of deep community crisis forces us to confront our distance. A more divided people are vulnerable. Communities that thrive are the ones that build institutions incorporating diversity dynamically into the fabric of everyday hometown life — who in times of turmoil turn toward each other, in the glorious diversity of race, religion and opinion we find in the human race. It’s an embrace of Local Color. The 2019-2020 season of Local Color is made possible through support from The Bank of America Foundation.
In the opening number of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda belts out “and there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait…” American democracy bequeathed to us was as a draft version, and the founders left us the mechanisms for revisions. We have that power right here and now in this place we share. Forget Washington. If we don’t iterate, it’s on us.
We imagine a public space where we come to really know each other, where we look unflinchingly at what divides us as we revel in what unites us – sort of an old-fashioned civic barnraising of sorts. We imagine an idea-generating, deeply real (possibly even joyful) Hamilton-inspired Technicolor town hall. We’re deep believers this American community is up to the challenge. We think we can teach the world a thing or two.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Since we began our Local Color gatherings two years ago, we’ve come to understand that the relationship between white liberals and black Americans is much more complicated than many of us thought. We’ll go there, but we’ll do it like the neighbors we are. The conversation continues at God Squad the next day here.
Four black men were lynched here. Those events, memorialized at the National Lynching Museum in Montgomery, are the focus of a local initiative seeking to remember our community’s share of the violent legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. As we struggle to stem the rising hatred across America today, we’ll consider the complexity of the task of reconciliation and talk about modern day vigilante justice and mobs.
On this date 60 years ago, the Tallahassee Democrat read “The lunch counter in Woolworth’s was closed at noon yesterday when a group of Negroes sat down and asked to be served.” In observance of the Tallahassee Lunch Counter Sit-ins, we’ll talk about how our community has changed and whether we’re sitting together enough at lunch now.
If you’re a person of color in Tallahassee, your kids are more likely in schools with suboptimal educational outcomes. Yet education is just one more topic we seem unable to discuss across the partisan divide. We’ll aim for a conversation that throws off the binary choice between left and right and instead sides firmly with our next generation.
“I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a tradition that didn’t believe in the myths and legends (of America’s innocence on race) because we had to bear the brunt of them.” As we began our Local Color season, Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. gave a gut-punch of a plea to confront generational denial on race. We’ll end the season hearing it.
Local Color would not have been possible this year without generous financial support from The Bank of America Foundation, which invested over $200 million annually to support pressing community needs. We thank them for making it possible that — in this time of so much separation between us — this community gathers.
The Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick has alternatively inspired and infuriated Americans. Both sides see sacrifice for a greater cause and see themselves standing up for fundamental American values. Both sides embrace their own protest and condemn the other’s. Could we be more alike than we’d like to acknowledge? We’ll seek understanding across this national rift.
The stakes have never been higher that we talk real on race. Here’s the problem: we surveyed Tallahassee on having conversations about race and learned that 28% would rather organize their sock drawer, 14% would prefer a root canal. But we say it’s really possible. We hope you’ll join us as we begin Local Color Season 3.
We talk a lot about difference of opinion between groups but less about variety of opinion that exists inside them. Does viewpoint diversity undermine the solidarity of marginalized groups? Should minorities who challenge conventional wisdom automatically be considered traitors? Or might an embrace of ideological difference inside racial minorities plant seeds to heal division?
See if you can make your way around the bases and find these four local sites that have connections to Jackie Robinson. Snap a selfie at each site. Then enter to win prizes!
Jackie Robinson would be 100 next week. On April 15th 1947, he stepped onto Ebbets Field as a Brooklyn Dodger, breaking the color barrier in a segregated sport. In celebration of the 100th year of his birth, we’ll talk about issues swirling in the sports world around race and we’ll consider the progress made through sports.
This year’s Local Color panelists are racially diverse at home. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll talk about interracial marriage and adoption at a time when tensions are rising across racial lines – and wrestle with whether we ought to be more melting pot or more salad bowl, retaining our cultural differences.
Does identity politics help marginalized groups get some much-needed R-E-S-P-E-C-T – breaking through barriers to become who we really are? Or does it sometimes hide what’s most unique about us? Can we adore and endure each other? We’ll figure all this out in 90 minutes, no big deal.
In a biographical telling of Jackie Robinson who wore jersey #42 throughout his Major League career, the film 42 tells the story of the first black baseball player in the MLB.