One of Four

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers! I am making a late entry due to a medical emergency last Friday. Please forgive my tardiness. I am beginning to recover to my normal state of decrepitude, and will meet with the surgeon tomorrow to discuss what I hope will be a brighter future!

To learn more about Friday Fictioneers, please visit the blog of our fearless leader, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

lunch counter

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

One of Four

by Jan Brown

ZZ Top would have called him a “sharp dressed man,” with his blindingly white pressed shirt and bow tie, his gray hair neatly coifed. I imagined what his regal face and athletic body would have looked like 50-60 years ago. I felt a chill climb up my spine as I realized who he was.

Back in the day, he was an ordinary student—but extraordinary for his protest. He and his friends started a movement amongst other “ordinary” folks who were tired of visiting restaurants where African Americans could not be served.

I wondered, are LGBTQ welcome now?

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Word Count: 98

 

 

greensboro four leaving

David Richmond (from left), Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., and Joseph McNeil leave the Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C., where they initiated a lunch-counter sit-in to protest segregation, Feb. 1, 1960. (No photographers were allowed into the store on the first day of protest.) Photo credit: Jack Moebes/Corbis (via npr.org)

 

 

 

A&T_four_statue_2000

The February One Monument on the Campus of North Carolina A&T State University, honoring the Greensboro Four–Photo via Wikipedia, public domain

 

 

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Countdown

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers!  We are a community of writers from around the world who post 100-word stories every week, based on a photo prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

This week’s photo by Madison Woods reminded me of a story that was in the news earlier this week. Two reporters were taken into custody during the Ferguson protests a year ago, shortly after police shot and killed Michael Brown. They were eating and working at a McDonald’s a couple blocks down the street from the main protest group. 

They were released without charges–until this week, when charges were finally pressed a few days before the one-year statute of limitation deadline. Needless to say, the reporters and their news organizations were outraged. They believe the charges are over-reaching and indicative of a desire to limit press coverage. This is particularly concerning, given the new protests that have been engaged over the last week.

What follows is fiction. I hope it conveys the spirit and the feeling of the journalists’ experience, but it is not intended to be a factual account. Real names of the parties involved are not used in the story.

Photo Copyright: Madison Woods

Photo Copyright: Madison Woods

Countdown

by Jan Brown

“Five.”

Rex quickly unplugged his chargers, his phone and his two laptops. He swallowed the last bite of his McChicken.

“Four.”

Jared started stuffing his computer equipment in a duffel bag.

“Three.”

The SWAT officers looked at each other, nodded, and turned their watchful eyes back to the two journalists, who were recording the officers on video.

“Two.”

Rex and Jared understood the intimidation tactics that police officers used to control crowds. But they had never seen these tactics used to harass reporters.

“One.”

Five seconds just wasn’t enough time to pack up and clear out.

“You’re under arrest.”

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For more information about the actual events that inspired this story:

Article in politico.com August 2014

To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories, click the link below:

Carrying the Light

I’m late with my Friday Fictioneers contribution this week. The photo prompt, as some of you may know, is published Wednesday morning. I contemplated the ornate light fixture in the photo and copied it onto my hard drive, as usual.

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The photo reminded me of some lovely chandeliers I’ve seen in churches, but I had no idea what to write.

That night, I procrastinated and scrolled through my twitter feed instead of writing. I came across breaking stories from various news media and was horrified to learn of the vicious hate crime in Charleston, a mass shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The cold-hearted shooting of a church prayer group…how do we reconcile the irony, the inhumanity?

The historic status of the church and its founder, Denmark Vesey, was mentioned in the first two articles I read. This church has suffered unthinkable losses in the past. The church was founded in 1816 by black congregants who left their predominantly white churches over issues of discrimination. It was burned down in 1822 when its pastor was convicted of planning a slave revolt. When the laws of that era prohibited all-black churches, the members had to meet in secret. The church survived all of this and was rebuilt at the end of the civil war, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. In the twentieth century, the church was the site of seminal civil rights speeches and demonstrations, including a mass arrest of more than 900 protesters in 1969.

Now they have suffered more unthinkable losses. As I read the articles and watched the news videos, two questions gnawed at me: 1) Why are we the only advanced nation to have mass shootings on a seemingly regular, if not frequent, basis; and 2) Why, in a country that has the most ethnically diverse population of any country on Earth, do we still have racial hatred? The answer to the first question is fairly obvious.  The answer to the second is so complex as to be incomprehensible, but I’m sure we’ll hear many sociologists, psychologists, journalists, pundits and random internet trolls try to break it down for us in the coming days/weeks/months.  I welcome that discussion with open ears.

Meanwhile, the only answer I have is love.

I try to wrap my head around the so-incredible level of love and forgiveness displayed by the families of the victims at the shooter’s bond hearing. No one said it better than Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of one of the victims. She spoke directly to the shooter, saying, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love. Hate won’t win.” (Source: NBCNews.com)

Mother Emanuel will be open for Sunday services today. The light they carry into the world is witness to God’s love and to our human potential to love, rather than hurt, each other.  I hope my little poem reflects that light.

Photo by Stephen Hyatt http://photos.thechurchesoftheworld.com/Charleston-SC-Churches/Mother-Emanuel-AME/

Photo by Stephen Hyatt
Source: photos/thechurchesoftheworld.com

Carrying the Light

by Jan Brown

Why do churches have such lovely chandeliers? Perhaps…

To remind us there is something irresistibly beautiful, something higher and more permanent than our imperfect selves.

To remind us of the beauty that can shine from just one beacon, even in a world otherwise devoid of light.

To focus the still-bright light of  our lost loved ones, so that we will not flounder in the dark.

To infuse love, the kind of love that shines on every living being, the kind of love that will never falter, never flicker out, never discriminate and never be darkened, no matter how deep the night.

shooting victims

Source: NBCNews.com

Mother Emanuel’s light shines now, this very moment. I pray that everyone will let it in.

Amen.

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Friday Fictioneers is a lovely community of writers from around the world. My blog this week was a departure from the usual form. Normally we post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read more stories of every conceivable genre, or to post your own, click here.

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Fifty Years Later

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers!

On Wednesday, the nation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963. As we take steps toward the future that Dr. King envisioned, we struggle with our troubled history in the hope that we will not reverse the progress that has been made.

I was overjoyed on Wednesday to see that our Friday Fictioneers facilitator (say that three times really fast!) gave us a photo prompt of Union Station. Our colleague, Dawn M. Miller, took a photo that shows the timeless beauty of the architecture as well as its modernized setting. Thank you, Dawn, for this thought provoking photo!

I imagined the foot traffic that this station experienced on August 28th, 1963–and August 28th, 2013. I imagined a very specific pair of feet amongst the crowd.

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Union Station, Washington, D.C. – Photo Copyright: Dawn M. Miller

Fifty Years Later

by Jan Brown

I’ve walked so far in these shoes.

I bought them for the March on Washington in 1963. I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial in them, listening to Dr. King’s vision of the future.

I wore them all through the next year of college. Wore them down south that summer, walking and driving dusty, unpaved roads to small churches. Wore them when I wept over the burnt-out shell of the Mt. Zion church.

Five days later, I died in these same shoes.

I will wear them until all those responsible have been called to account. By man or God.

Mississippi_KKK_Conspiracy_Murders_June_21_1964_Victims_Chaney_Goodman_Schwerner

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer – Civil rights activists murdered by the KKK in June, 1964

640px-Mt__Zion_Methodist_Church_state_history_marker_in_Neshoba_County

Choose

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. We’ve come a long way, but still have a long road to travel. Each step along the way is a choice that can lead to a better world.

Choose

voices
drown each other
cacophony, not debate

voices
joined together
harmony above

arms
crush each other
slinging hate

arms
linked together
the branch, the dove

hearts
break each other
loudly berate

hearts
held together
magnets of love

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To watch the celebration in Washington streaming live to your computer, visit barackobama.com and scroll down for the link.