“Light in the darkness…”

Today is Martian Luther King day? A holiday I think the country should behold with more reverence. It is not just about a man with a vision, it is about a struggle in our country to name prejudice, face fear, and become one of the greatest movements of growth for our nation toward finally recognizing us united as a whole for all people. Personally I think it is a far greater holiday than some of the others we have. I am deep in thought this morning about my visit to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta. I was on a national tour with a show called The Trip to Bountiful and we had a day off in Atlanta, only two of us were interested in seeing this awesome landmark. As you walk into the center it is divided into sections. The first section deals with hate and how prejudice grows from fear and ignorance. They show a documentary film in which they candidly interview white people off the street about their perceptions of black people. I was utterly shocked and it has haunted me for years since to see such loathing. I remember thinking this can’t possibly be real, nobody can be this dimwitted. I had no idea there was such vehement loathing for another human being. What surprise me even more was that I was a small kid during era and didn’t know anything about it. We were not effected by, or have exposure to such hate in Montana. I had a cousin Seven Michael Hobbs who used to come stay with us each summer from Seattle, he was black, my same age and all was normal. It’s one of the things I love about Montana and keeps me here is how open and down to earth people here seem to be. I have always been accepted as a gay man and have never felt fearful. Today we celebrate a journey in a country without fear and loathing.

I did this image about 10 years ago and it was shot on chrome film (slide film). Oh I miss the beauty of working in film, there was no latitude so you had very little wiggle room for exposure and had to work to set up the image and get it right the first time because you wouldn’t see the actual results for days after, but the result was so deep and rich.

There was a powerful showstopper moment in the musical Hairspray sung brilliantly by Mary Bond Davis that rings though my head this morning:

“There’s a light
In the darkness
Though the night
Is black as my skin
There’s a light
Burning bright
Showing me the way
But I know where I have been

There’s a cry
In the distance
It is a voice
That comes from deep within
There’s a cry
Asking why
I pray the answers up ahead
´Cause I know where I have been

There’s a road
We have been travelin´
Lost so many on the way
But the riches
Will be plenty
Worth the price we
Had to pay”

I Know Where I Have Been lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman