I am a child of the Sixties, I may have been young but I remember watching all of it. The Excitement, The Hope on people's faces, and how it all shifted in the Spring of 1968. I used to go visit my Great Aunt May in Downtown Baltimore and I was at her big Old Brownstone when Martin Luther King was assassinated, and we listened to Bobby Kennedy on the radio that night.And my great Aunt, a child of the Civil War lit candles and sang Amazing Grace and cried. And I rode home with my grandmother and we shared Kleenex and the Peppermint lifesavers were salty from the tears. My Aunt May was in her Nineties, she had lived in her Brownstone since the 1930's. She paid for it herself. She was a retired Opera Singer, dancer, model and performer. She lived in that house and that Neighborhood was her neighborhood, and her people. She knew everybody and they knew her, she was Missy May. She said when Martin was killed " There will be Trouble, This should not have happened".
And that Spring it started to feel tense when we would go see Aunt May on Thursdays to pick up laundry and bring the groceries. There were less smiles and less singing on the street and less jumping rope. Something had changed. "The Hope has Shifted" My Aunt May said.
By June the Hope would indeed Shift. Bobby Kennedy was Killed the first week of June , 1968 on a night that should have brought Hope and Optimism.He was brutally murdered on a Night of Victory in front of those who loved him. We went down to see my Aunt May, she lived in the Middle of Downtown Baltimore, she knew there would be riots. She would not leave her house. She yelled at My Grandmother" These are my people, my neighbors, I will stay here, I will share their pain. I will share their Loss , their Grief. " And she did. She rode out the riots, sitting in her livingroom with her neighbors, they shared Bourbon and she sang to them and they guarded her house with baseball bats on those explosive nights. ( Which when found behind the door led to quite a row with my grandmother). Her neighborhood was mostly destroyed during the Riots that summer, yet she did not even have a broken window.She did not care about her house, she was heartbroken and as devastated as her neighbors. "They didn't just kill Bobby, they Killed Any and All Hope " she said.
I still remember those trips downtown that Steamy Hot summer. I can still smell the burnt candles, and the burnt buildings and the crumbled piles of debris on the Street and the broken glass everywhere.The rage and angst was palpable, the anguish of Broken People and Broken Dreams. I can still smell the rotted garbage that was everywhere in the heat, and I can still hear the crying and see the tears.....I was small, but the Images were Big as we would drive slow and my grandmother would try to figure out where to park.
That Spring and Summer as a little Girl , I did not just learn "History" I learned about Hope, Courage, and Dreams of Something better.....and then I learned About Pain and Devastating Grief...I learned it from my Aunt May and her Neighbors. That being One People and being Unified with Neighbors is Powerful even when there is a Tragic Loss of a Person Of Greatness. That the Moment may be Lost, or Stolen, but it lives on in Hearts , even for 40 years.
So Here we are 40 years later....and Again the Ripples of Hope have been embraced and Felt by Millions. We stand together on a Precipice for Change after 8 years of Pure Hell, and we can feel that Hope, that Excitement. Yet we know in This Country, Our Country that such Moments can be Shattered, Broken...It can Happen. We all Carry That in our hearts, not far from our minds eye.I like many others spent many years studying and embracing the Lessons of What we had lost. I wanted to be able recognize Greatness when it came again, I wanted to be able to share it with my child and the next generation. That Moment has come upon us again....A Moment to share History and Greatness, and even Hope.
So Yesterday I watched as Mrs Clinton mentioned how she should stay in the Race , because Her Opportunity Could still arise and she brought up That Summer, and That Assassination. But for her it was just casually mentioning "History", there was no agony in the mention. She mentioned it in terms of her own Presidential Future, exploiting Our Traumatic Past and shading it with her Opportunistic Aspirations. I felt ill , I kept picturing THAT summer, and what was lost, and the devastation and I kept wondering about it. Didn't SHE Remember that Pain , that fiery misery ? Didn't she remember the Loss, the Soul wrenching stench of it ? When did she lose a piece of her heart ? What Happened that she could not even feel the Agony of the Words that she said ? And later in the day AFTER the Obama campaign issued a statement , she admitted "regret that her comment might have offended anyone" . There was No Apology to ALL of us, or the Obamas, or even really the Kennedys. And All I could think was WHERE were you Hillary when the buildings burned and The Hearts of Millions Broke that awful summer when Bobby was brutally murdered ? Why don't you remember ?? ....It was never "just History". It was Our History, Our Pain....It was that Pain that kept so many of us searching and working so hard. It was That Pain that brought us Wisdom.
"Even in our sleep,
which can not forget,
Pain falls drop by drop
on the heart.
In our own despair,
against our will,
by the awful Grace of God."
Spoken by Robert F.Kennedy the night that Martin Luther King was killed, to comfort the crowd in Indianapolis.