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Memory's an eel
forty-nine years' unreliable reach.
No news, that: plagues us all--
.fans of Classic Series stats
.Gospel Writers ... all.
Time trips us up so thoroughly I wonder that we ever know history even in our own age.
I'd've sworn we packed Penn's Palestra so very angry and afraid-afraid they were willing now to murder young white-privilege not only those at Black Jackson State--on a Friday-not-a-Monday--no, no, it was Monday evening, May 4th, 1970 and we rallied inside our Palestra sang and marched from campus three miles to Center City then north two more miles down North Broad to the Induction Center--and yet
after years and years and conversation upon conversation...
there. was. no. march. that. night.
Yet in my memory there was.
And it was a hell of a march.
Snug in Our Palestra. The "Cathedral of College Basketball". But not this night. Racing-to-radio-rumors, racing from classes to the Palestra. Words, horrid truths at first so disbelieved, disbelieved-words so quickly spread, at first so horribly disbelieved then so very crushing-swift: Truth-From-Students-with-Microphones, students wholly believed-sinking-in Nixon, we knew, we knew right there in the stands we knew, we knew that man wanted us dead--Us!
How Fucking Unreal, Man!
as truth lay sprawled on grass and asphalt at Kent, Ohio, unarmed and quite dead.
And yet. I recall feeling ashamed-in-the-stands, implored to Fear, here, in the very safe-very safe Penn Palestra, 9,000, 10,000, 15,000 sharing a ginned-up privilege-fear we never deserved.
Outrage; that was justified. Fear? Come on! No; No, and
yet I do remember all the trumped up jumped up calls to Share the Fright and Horror Kent State students, of a sudden our-kin-our-blood--I remember thinking, in the stands, listening to Panthers, SDS make certain we are not just outraged at the Guard but the truth that the Guard had really done it now to us to us to us--right here inside our sweaty, cozy, safe gymnasium.
I remember thinking: (I do remember thinking t h i s): How the hell many of us have sat-in, been beaten at a Carolina lunch counter, at a Mississippi polling place, at a Philly draft board office? I had been a high school non-hero sweetly arrested at the draft board 401 North Broad Street Philadelphia December 17, 1967-- I do recall the date I recall it, six glorious hours in lock-up and one full glorious glorious week thereafter imagining myself a revolutionary at sixteen. Ho. Ho. Ho. Chi. Minh. NLF. is. Gonna. Win.
Memory is an eel.
I was swaddled in a Palestra cheering section thinking that none of us had ever been as brave as to sit, not among 12,000 like-minded but with three or four deadly-frightened yet committed souls at a Woolworth's Counter, order a malted, and get the shit beat out of you again and again and again and again. That. I do recall thinking that.
I know what Kent State did. It brought that war-stench home in ways not brought before to white privilege and, I suppose, thank God, too--that's when Congress decided maybe just may be stumbling loopy-blind through that flat-out vicious-stupid jungle muck might just might be incredibly dangerous.
And it took five. more.years.
Memory's slippery. History's hell, and sure.