I was in Baton Rouge on the day Alton Sterling was laid to rest. The Baton Rouge PD was in place to keep law and order. I was not too far from the very same spot just ten days later when Corporal Montrell Jackson was laid to rest. Both black and blue families called for an end to race-related killing and violence in the city.
In an effort to process all that happened without being sucked into the noise of the hatred, I sought personal healing by trying to recall anything that once resembled common ground between the races. It was then I found the only place to turn that made any sense at all: the Gospel hymn.
This WAS going to be a column about the Mississippi Delta.
This WAS going to be a report on my travels throughout the land of the Delta Blues with its colorful array of sounds, sights, and smells.
From Memphis to New Orleans, I was going to present some highlights of how summertime is best spent underneath the quiet oaks of places like St. Francisville, Louisiana. I had an entire list of things to see and places to be. I was already forming ideas of just how funny it would be to paint the picture of my getting off road in an average sedan that had no business whatsoever climbing slick, gravel trails, all in the name of seeing something spectacular. There were scenes from movies I was going to recall from all the places I spent my time.
But then the life-changing events of summer happened.
Amidst an already volatile political climate, the shedding of the blood of innocent men in our nation’s cities. Brother rising against brother, so to speak. Republicans tearing each other’s eyes out regarding what to do with Donald Trump. Bernie Sander’s supporters rioting in the streets with duct tape over their lips over the injustices of Hillary’s DNC.
So I found irony in tracking the Mississippi River through all the places where the sugar cane grows. I stepped foot into the quarters of a once enslaved people where the haunting melodies I heard seemed to make the earth beneath me tremor.
I traveled to America’s most critical ports on the international stage and met some of the people who run them. With the hard work of ordinary men and women as the common denominator, I studied, firsthand, the role of the Mississippi Delta region to the entire world.
I dined on the Creole cuisine that once built a nation in one of America’s earliest gateways to a new world where both opulence and poverty coexist even to this very day.
There again, I heard the haunting melody of the Gospel hymn on display in lilting brass lullabies.
I took a breath to get back to the basics. Floating among the lily pads, I took my time to consider the lilies that never have to labor or spin. What worry do they have? None.
Dressed in splendor, the Gospel hymn showed itself to the world again.
Trenisha Jackson danced despite her tears in Baton Rouge that day and neither did she dress in the traditional black attire of a widow. With red flowers around her neck, on her shoulder, and in her hair, she urged brothers everywhere to surrender their hatred. It will get better, sounded the choir.
So, I did not pen the column I had planned. The events of the nation and the world warranted the time to stop and listen to the sounds of freedom’s shout as it is slipping away on this earth, but NEVER in the eternal realm. Once again, I found solace in the Gospel hymn, for it was the best starting place I knew to find the common ground I needed to offer peace, healing, and forgiveness to those who needed it most.
Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.