I’m reminded of a little incident about 20 years or so ago—Mom and I were sitting on a little beach in New Rochelle—which was odd, we didn’t really go to the beach in NR and I think we had on street clothes—maybe we were coming from Bloomingdale's or something…and it just didn’t seem like a real beach day. Anyway, there was a really straggly young family sitting on the sand. They had a messy, white blond daughter who was gangly and dirty in that crazy little kid way. She had an extremely scraggly and naked blond, almost bald Barbie doll, all covered with paint and crayon marks that she clearly adored. She came over and danced the doll in front of us singing a la la la song 1/2 showing off and 1/2 preoccupied with the doll. “What’s your dolly’s name?” my mother asked her. The girl stopped, surprised and pleased, I think to be asked, held up the doll Liberty torch style and announced proudly; “Martin Luther CRAYON”!
I’ve always treasured this memory—this little girl linking MLK and something colorful and familiar to a kid and a tool for expression. When I was little, I used to think of King as Martin Luther Kitty because he reminded me of a Siamese cat. (this image was @ reidreporeidreport.comrt.com)
But this image reminds me of a striking part of King's speech which they showed in it's entirety on CNN today. King is not merely redemptive, a hopeful dreamer. He also takes us to task and though the threat is not violent he warns:
"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.
This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not
pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning.
Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be
content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as
usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the
Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will
continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of
Today (January 6 , 2009) would have been my parent’s 64th anniversary. This photo is from Paris in 1962—I’m in the picture too, due to emerge that June. Hallelujah was playing today on TMC, a nice little gift. The story of Chick, the wonderful Nina Mae McKinney (pronounced Neye-na like me and mom’s Eye-na) and Zeke, played by the impossibly handsome Daniel K. Haynes has nothing to do with my parent’s story except that all the players are attractive and black—which is, of course, a, what? Tautology?
Hallelujah! is also one of my very favorite films— beautiful early sync-sound, black-cast musical/drama (or a drama with music as would be common in the day) from Texan director, King Vidor.
A hot movie, it has all the racy cinematic stalwarts;
money, sex, religion, vamps and good girls, steamy baptisms and steamy revivals,
"She sho' is pretty, Mammy! I never seen such big eyes in all my life!"
country folk vs. citified folk, murders, songs, dancing and jazz. While filled in some way with stereotypes; cotton-pickers, head scratching, romanticized poverty, pickaninnies—the film ultimately shows the characters as relatively whole and human within the melodramatic confines of the genre, showing loving families and a cohesive and moral community.
I think that viewers are always surprised at the intensity and modernity of McKinney’s performance. She’s an independent and sexual woman so naturally things end badly for her but while she’s on screen she’s riveting, warm and luminous.
"So you're all hopped up about that fake preacher!"
Haynes—I always feel a little sadness watching him—he’s so beautiful and I always imagine him cast in all kinds of movie roles—he’s tall with a bass voice and gorgeous smile. His performance is compelling as he moves from a happy, cocky, a naïve bumpkin but a good son, to lover and fiery preacher—he suffers, murders and is humbled by his experiences. In the realm of the Lincoln Film Conspiracy he would have been a headliner! Haynes was a Gemini like me, I see from IMDB. He has only 9 films to his credit list, mostly bit parts between ‘34 and ‘36. He requires further investigation!
Today would have been my parent’s 64th anniversary. This photo is from Paris in 1962—I’m in the picture too, due to emerge that June!
Hallelujah! was playing today on TMC, a nice little gift. The saga of Chick, acted by wonderful Nina Mae McKinney (pronounced "Neye-na" like me and mom’s "Eye-na") and Zeke, played by the impossibly handsome Daniel L. Haynes, has nothing to do with my parent’s story except that all the players are attractive and black—which is, of course,a...what? Tautology? (More on Vidor's film coming up)