Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me;
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
*Come into His Presence Singing p30
My experience with the Black community since I arrived in New Orleans was vast. Without going into detail, I’d simply like to offer 2 of many memories.
At one concert I presented Dr Gloria Francis Bacon. It was on Easter Sunday, and Manon and I got a full church to show up. Gloria, with her extraordinary accompanist from Chicago performed a very moving program. But the music could well have been appropriate for Good Friday.
I wondered why?
I don’t know much about history, but it seemed to me that for Black folks Christ is still hanging and crucified on that Calvary tree.
At another program, Dr Valerie Jones Francis asked if I would accompany her on the piano. It was held in Marrero. I played some classical songs that she sang; and another Black pianist played the gospel songs. The way she interacted with her accompanist was exciting and amazing to me. It was Martin Luther King Day. On the way back, while driving, she asked if I heard any slavery jokes. No I hadn’t. I think she told at least two. One of which I still remember. Have you heard any from a Black person?
I felt I was in a very privileged moment. A sign of confidence and intimacy. I didn’t understand either joke. I forgot and simply did not understand the first joke; though I tried to smile as if hip to the meaning. The second I didn’t quite understand either, though Val was almost in tears of laughter while telling it. As time went on I began to “get it” and at least it makes laugh, too.
I’ve taken race seminars, and worked in our Black universities regularly, played in all Black blues clubs, presented and arranged many Black concerts and gospel music festivals at Trinity and Kingsley House over the years. I’ve come away from it only to realize more fully how wide the gulf is between people of color and White folks. I was very lucky to have had this experience. It molded me in spite of myself, and I felt almost as if I were called.
Freedom Rider - Steve Winwood
Spirit of the living God; move among us all;
Make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love,
humble, caring, selfless, sharing.
Spirit of the living God, fill our lives with love. Amen.
*Daniel Iverson and Michael Boughen