Journalist Stephen Siff has a new book out on journalism’s coverage of “acid” through the Sixties. Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed provides a fascinating review of Siff’s book here: Review of Stephen Siff, “Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience” | InsideHigherEd.
The Rev. Church Smith has died. For someone of whom many have not heard, his historical significance is nevertheless large. Here’s the NY Times obituary:
Historian Edward J. Blum highlights the tensions in remembering–commemoration–fifty years after the March on Washington and the Birmingham Bombing:
How do we balance King’s dream with McNair’s nightmare [father of one of the four girls killed in the bombing] in our supposedly post-racial and now-digital age? We still live in a country of freedom dreams and violent nightmares.
Indeed. Commemorations single out one or more things from the past–but the past is intertwined, not only with the present, but with itself. Commemorations can sometimes lose sight of the complexity and paradoxes for the sake of single-minded focus.
For myself, I’m uneasy with commemorations, in general. Perhaps it is an occupational quirk that goes with being a historian. I’m too aware of the complexities of the past. Yet it also has to do with my convictions about human nature and experience–which necessarily inform a study of the past.
Commemorations are understandable, even necessary, things. They are an important collective way of acknowledging the past, even beginning to come to terms with it and, at times, moving on. This, however, is when things are at their best. Often, commemorations are less than this “best.” Perhaps the bigger they are in scope, the more difficult it is to commemorate well, since with greater scope there is also a larger number of people to try to engage in the commemoration. It is much easier to commemorate the March on Washington than the Birmingham Bombing, which actually came so soon after the March. Our human limits and self-regard bend all things, including commemorations.
Read Blum’s reflections in full here.
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington has been much in the news this past week. And rightly so.
MLK did deliver other great speeches–sermons, really. Historian James Bratt of Calvin College rightly muses on the ways in which King sought to bring prophetic Christian faith to bear on his time and place in ways that transcended mere civil religion or partisan politics, even if he never fully escaped such things. Here’s Bratt’s piece: the12 – Blog – King’s Mountaintop, Our Valley.
Hey, check out this really cool interview with Larry Eskridge, author of God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America. I bet you’ll dig it …
(As you can tell, I’ve always wanted to be cool, but I have been cool-challenged, including during the Sixties, even though I lived in San Francisco, Berkeley, and the Bay Area 1968-1989. So, I became a historian …)