On Toward Walking the Streets
"I remembered Sunday night when I got home and settled-down that I had a granddaddy and his two brothers who went off to war to free the Cubans and the people out there in the Philippines and they got killed and nobody got freed. Then my father went off to help Mr. Wilson save the world for democracy. He came home early; dead before all that savin' the world never happened and we buried him in a pine box in Florida."
Rogers looked for and found Caroline. Lifted his wrist. She wept.
Maggie gently hugged her.
"What I'm tryin' to say is that this is no good if it's a one-time excitement. Take this paper," and he held up his copy, "this'll do more good than 'most anything if we keep it going-but Mrs. Wye's not going to be here forever so that's up to us.
"Then there's this election," and he pointed back to the map and then over to Marsh. "You know why we like The Judge. He don't lie to us. You all smart enough to know we's not goin' to win this election. That's his great thing, The Judge; he tells us what we all know but's scared to admit right out public. We's practicing, humping-up our courage, for doin' it ten years from now and maybe winning then. This is to show the white folks we's serious. Oh, we do good now and maybe we'll get more street lights and a new bus line, but we ain't goin' to win like we need to win."
Rogers stopped, walked back and forth a couple of times estimating just how far he could go. He decided to risk it.
"Friends, we ain't high-steppin' to a barbecue. The people we are up against use a lot of nice words to us folks, but when they talk to themselves they use different words. I keep reading and hearing things like 'The American Century,' bein' 'trustee for the world,' and enforcing 'law and order in the outer world.' And they talk about other countries...."
Rogers looked over to Griff. A long look.
"You remember what the Reverend said on Sunday about no lines on the map? That keeps comin' back to me. No lines on the map. What I get from that is that it's not countries - it's people. So I don't like it when the big white folks talk about other countries being clients, dependents and puppets, and go on testing the atomic bomb to make it bigger and better. You know, folks, we just destroyed the home of some of those people out out in the Pacific.
"Now all that talk about saving the world does puff people up pretty big. Hot air does confuse the brain."
He stopped for the laughter. Then he smiled, held up his hand like it was a mirror and shook his head. "Well, I'm in too deep to back out so I got to get on to the other side."
It was an effective bit of theater. It gave everybody a chance to relax and anticipate the climax.
"It is too bad that our leaders don't talk as straight as they did when my granddaddy and his brothers got themselves killed for freedom. Back then they used the word empire. Well, that's what we got now - empire. Everybody thinks that empire has only got to do with other folks, most of 'em bad...."
He turned to the board where Marsh had tacked the map. There was some open space. Rogers walked over to it, picked up a piece of chalk and drew a circle with arrows sticking out all around it.
"That's what most folks think of as being the empire. Us fightin' off the bad ones. But that's only half the story."
He drew lines with arrows pointing from the circle into the middle.
"That's the other part of the empire, and we's right there in the middle. We want to live without those arrows. We want freedom here at home, and we want to be helpin' other people, not bombing their home places like out there in the Pacific.
Table of Contents
- Maggie and Mr. Hank
- The Reverend
- Squalls Along the Flight Line
- Flying Home to Church
- A Visit with The Judge
- Monday Morning With The Admiral
- Into the Dining Room
- On Toward Walking the Streets
- Glimpses of An Election
- The Dream and The Reality of Violence
- The Admiral Loses More Than a Few Good Men
- Down That Lonesome Road