So I decided that this week my entry will be an acknowledgment to the fact that we only have 3 weeks of school left [INCLUDING EXAMS]… Not only that – after Friday we have nothing to turn in for this class. Doesn’t that brighten your day a bit guys? It did to me – even though my paper is still terrible and needs so much work it is not even funny and I just put together my first powerpoint ever [i know… what DID they teach me in high school right? Not citations, footnotes, or powerpoint? SERIOUSLY!!!] Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a powerpoint before tonight – oh yeah that’s everyone but me. My roommate had to help me make it look pretty and colorful. Pathetic I say. Anyways goodnight all.
So to preface – after a 2 + hour adventure on my extremely cool Saturday night, I am tired and feeling a little bit like a loser given that last night I stayed in to read Notes on the State of Virginia and tonight I devoted another night I could have been socializing [cus i do have friends, i promise!] doing history instead.
“I was born a slave” was a play/reading of sorts that was really powerful. The lights dimmed, the crowd hushed – and a narrative of the life of John M. Washington began. There was a narrator that guided the story through several quotations of John himself and several other female excerpts from the Fredericksburg community. The reader for John had a very deep voice, almost artificially so to me. This reading was an effective way for the audience to get a better sense of the life of Mr. Washington without having to have read the book of his autobiography [which was being advertised heavily tonight]. There were musical interludes, with a powerful ending of “Glory Glory Hallelujah” which Davis informs me is the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” buuutt for those of you who recognize the song by my title of it, your welcome because obviously it’s more easily recognizable by that name. Anyway – this ending was very powerful because the entire crowd sang along and the man singing lead was an amazing vocalist.
Once the reading was over, the historian we came to see was introduced and took the stage. David Blight is an engaging public speaker with a good sense of humor and a passion for what he does. He seems to wish he was a novelist because he mentioned on several occasions how nice it would have been to make up facts and have the two men that he had compiled memoirs on meet for a more dramatic effect. He demonstrated that much of being a historian is being persistent, thinking outside the box, having a good assistant who is also persistent and intelligent, and having the luck of getting to something or having an idea to do something first. He summarized briefly the lives of both the men – Turnage and Washington, and how they came to achieve their freedom. They had interesting stories and I am sure the book would be a page turner.
After his “lecture” he introduced Ruth, the grand-daughter of Washington and she delivered a well rehearsed speech that got a standing ovation – for that reason, I think I should simply put my speaking career on hold, honing my skills until I am 89 when people will admire the fact that I am still living and not care about how I speak or read from notes because they are just in awe. She seems like an amazing woman. She still drives herself around, is a TA in FL and is very lively. It was cool to hear her story. Next the great grand-daughter got up [and to be fair by this time i was wishing we were leaving] and she spoke for another 10 to 15 minutes. She was very emotional as I am sure I would probably be if this were happening with my family – but dragged on for a while, given how long the audience had already been sitting. She did make a valid argument that we should pass down information about our lives to our children and their children and let them know where they come from. This was obviously a big deal for her and it was pleasant to see her reaction to such a monumental event in her family’s history.
One thing I just can’t wrap my head around is – How can someone not even know the name of their Grandfather? I know the names of my Great Grandfathers! Then again I did have the privilege of meeting and knowing one of them. It is strange to me that they didn’t know more about their family and it took a historian to figure basic things out for them. I think that is sad. It is important to know and love your family… and it is silly to not know a thing about where you come from.
So who’s going to this and can we please meet up before hand so we don’t all walk in separately and awkwardly now knowing what to think?
I have a story that demonstrates the main idea of this article – its kind of long but pretty exciting and hence its worth sharing but not taking up class time [if that makes sense]
My boyfriend unfortunately witnessed a shooting last year [i know, scary. And NO he is not a thug and does not live in the ghetto at school or anything]. The confrontation was between his neighbor [also a college student] and two men who lived down the street. A bunch of my boyfriend’s friends were out in the street being drunk and stupid setting off fireworks… Robbie [bf] was studying for an exam he had the next day but was aware of the raucous outside his house. He went outside when he heard the fireworks going off and witnessed the scene as it unfolded. Apparently 2 guys that lived down the street approached cursing, half naked [only in boxers in 30 degree winter weather], and trying to start a fight. They apparently did not appreciate fireworks being shot at 11pm down their street. It was apparent that these men were either intoxicated or on some sort of drugs because of their aggressive and strange behavior. To get to the chase, Robbie got his roommate in the house [who had previous run ins with the police and was intoxicated] and stood on the porch helpless to what might happen yet. — personally i would have liked for him to get in the house and or call the police at this time but boys are silly — So in this shout-fest the students [Robbie’s friends] were given the impression that these guys had a concealed knife and they made for their respective houses. Robbie’s neighbor, Mark, went inside and got his shotgun to scare the men away. Mark stood on HIS porch and told the men to leave, threatening to shoot them if they continued to advance on his property. One man continued to come at the porch and Mark shot a warning shot into the air. At this the man ran at him and Mark shot him in the leg with a bird shell, disabling him and obviously hurting him badly. Then the 2nd man grabbed a tiki torch out of the yard and began to swing it at Mark, running up his yard and up the steps of his porch. Mark shot this man two times once in the leg and once in the private parts [unfortunate and not intentional]. After the first shot the man continued to come at Mark so he fired the second. [I know this sounds ridiculous but this did happen – despite obvious bias on my part and a few details potentially misplaced since I wasn’t there]
Robbie was one of two guys to witness it besides the 3 directly involved [the shooter and “victims”] and he was taken to the police station for questioning. This where it comes back to the article. Robbie obviously witnessed this crime and there was no doubt who was involved since two men were in the hospital and Mark turned himself in when the police arrived. What is interesting is what details we make up if we didn’t remember. Robbie thought there were only 3 shots fired. In my story there are obviously 4 and I think the police report says that there were 5. It may not be relevant to the charges at all but this is a crucial piece of information which everyone had differently.
In circumstances where tensions are high and adrenaline is pumping, it is easy to miss key details and to fill them in with what makes sense. Robbie remembered that both men were shot and that there was a warning shot. He did not remember that there was a second shot fired in the air as warning [which i left out in my story] and then a second shot at the 2nd advancing man. It doesn’t matter how closely a witness pays attention – they are going to miss something. Robbie had no motivation to change the story from 5 shots to 3, it is what he truly thought happened. He also told me that he was worried that with every retelling he was solidifying his story, but also potentially changing it. He wrote it down the next day to be sure if he were questioned further he would keep the story the same. Needless to say he didn’t do well on his exam the next day….
So I was under the impression that if I read and understood my material that I would be more than set for an in class discussion where all I had to do was guide other people through questions about the chapter. WRONG haha talk about crash and burn. Note to the wise – learn from the first groups presentation and prepare clear, well thought out questions that are in the introduction that HOPEFULLY THIS TIME everyone read and then maybe we will have less crickets in the room tomorrow.