Sunday, September 02, 2007

More Mississippi Memories

After seeing the sign above on the Mississippi segment of "The States" yesterday on The History Channel, I got to thinking about the summer of 2004 when I took part as a middle school librarian in the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University.

Teachers came from across the country to attend a workshop entitled "Landmarks of American Democracy: From Freedom Summer to the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike." By workshop's end, I realized the priceless value in learning the history of those landmarks and then visiting them. The worksho's biggest impact for me came from the words of Freedom Summer workers and a man with Dr. King in Memphis, from seeing the look in their eyes as called forth the truths and memories they knew they must share. They made it real for us and through us, for our students.

I took my photo of The Crossroads from the JSU bus window as we rolled to a stop. We turned right and headed north on Highway 61 to Memphis, but not before we ate lunch at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club, listened to some live blues from Terry "Big T" Williams, then toured the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. (Lovers of the blues need to get to Clarksdale at some point in their lives.)

Here's my bluesman I painted in the late '90s. Click on the photo for a bigger view, please. Can you guess what structure I used for the eyes? The yellow background started out as a brown paper grocery bag. To raise the bluesman about a quarter inch from the background, I traced him onto the inside of several instant oatmeal boxes which I cut out and glued together. That makes it laminated cardboard, doesn't it? The little box by the bluesman's right foot says "Highway 61 Bottled Blues" on its cover and opens so that you can read "Get the Juice, You'll Get the Blues."

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