If we work in solidarity, we can reconcile and bring to a just conclusion the scandalous legacy of slavery and mass incarceration.

In reMember, a 24-minute video, Louie Crew Clay, an 81-year-old white Alabaman, takes us with him to Montgomery’s Lynching Memorial and Legacy Museum. They become for Clay a mirror in which he sees himself as an unwitting Jim Crow. Not until he was 30 did he learn that his own family was involved in the Klan. For him the experience is cathartic, not as an indictment but as an invitation to reconcile, to be in solidarity with all to bring a just conclusion to the scandalous legacy of slavery.


Acknowledgements

  • Special thanks to The Equal Justice Initiative and its founder Bryan Stevenson for shaking the foundations of bigotry and calling us to reconcile and do justice.
  • Thanks to those who envisioned, funded, and now work to sustain EJI’s two major projects:
  • The Legacy Museum:  From Slavery to Mass Incarceration and The Peace with Justice Memorial (a.k.a. :The Lynching Memorial) – visit museumandmemorial.eji.org.
  • Each of the following artists is represented with brief snippets from her or his recordings. The full recording of each may be purchased at minimal cost at folkways.si.edu/folkways-recordings/. I am grateful to The Smithsonian’s Folkways Recordings for its a stunning collection of historic voices.
    • Claude McKay, from his poem “If we must die.”
    • An anonymous singer wailing “Field Call.”
    • A snippet from “Three Salient Facts,” from Ida B. Wells’ 1909 speech to the National Negro Conference in 1909, read by Ruby Dee.
    • The opening lines of “Nice Day for a Lynching” by Kenneth Patchen.
    • “No More Auction Block,” sung by Paul Robeson.
    • “The Struggle” read by Langston Hughes.
  • Part 1 ends with the brief final portion of “Strange Fruit (1939)” sung by Billie Holliday, available at genocidetext.net/gaci_strange.htm.
  • Video maker Louie Crew Clay read his poem “I Saw Jim Crow in the Mirror.” Originally published August 6, 2015 by The Episcopal Café and posted on Clay’s Facebook wall.
  • Cheryl Albright sang “Before I’ll Be a Slave” a.k.a. “O Freedom.” The recording also features Alexia B. Teixeira, who recited an expert from the poem “Heritage,” by Gwendolyn Bennett. Published on Apr 12, 2016 by Project Pacem, Executive Producer: Michael Scully https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fsNKCFPNFY in the public domain.
  • Second Movement of Beethoven’s – Symphony No. 3, (a.k.a. ‘The Eroica’)performed by National Symphony Orchestra (London, England), 1945, conducted by Heinz Unger, downloaded from publicdomain.lafauniere.info/index.php.
  • “Time Stops” by “Silent Partner” available from Youtube in the public domain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spy33cjJTzY.
  • “Lament” performed by MYUU from SoundCloud.com licensed under a Creative Commons License.
  • Jeffery L. Nall, organist, performing “Deep River”, from WholeNote (2014/3/24) Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0
  • Characters and Narrators in “Terror Close to Home.”
  • Fred & James Portable for Voice Dream Readers
  • David Desktop from Microsoft
  • Quean Lutibelle from East Orange, NJ
  • Graphics of lynching by counties where we and our families have lived: assembled from those provided for all counties on the website of The Equal Justice Initiated https://museumandmemorial.eji.org
  • Google’s powerful search engines yielded multiple hits, used here as a collage of lynching images.
  • Video, script, & photographs not already acknowledged are the work of Louie Crew Clay

© 2018 by Louie Crew Clay for the public domain if acknowledged.

An HRHQL Production

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Louie Crew Clay

Louie Crew Clay,  81, is an Anniston, Alabama native and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers. He lives in East Orange, NJ, with Ernest Clay, his husband for 44 years. He holds an M.A. from Auburn University, a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), and honorary doctorates from three seminaries of the Episcopal Church. He is the founder of Integrity, an international organization of lgbt Episcopalians/Anglicans. Editors have published 2,750+ of Louie Crew Clay's poems and essays — including Letters from Samaria: The Prose & Poetry of Louie Crew Clay, NYC: Church Publishing, Inc., November 2015 and  Our Station Forgot to Give the Evening News,  Poetry Superhighway. An eBook in the press' annual 'The Great Poetry E-Book Free-For-All,' online from December 1, 2016. You can follow his work at Rutgers.edu. See also Wikipedia.org. The University of Michigan collects Clay’s papers.