Simple Things/ Lang Kenneth Haynes
A Part Of/Apart From
Like it or not, you are probably a part of more things than you realize. And as solitary as you think you are, you are probably in the
company of hundreds or thousands of others. I am slowly coming to the realization that this is the case for me which leads me to the
conclusion that this could very well be the case for you. Another startling revelation (for me anyway) is that despite obvious and real or
imagined differences, you and I could be pretty much the same.
When I look back at the time and energy I devoted to Madison while trying to juggle many things (just like a large percentage of the rest
of the world) at the same time, I have to wonder how I kept from going under. I know. The last words of the preceding sentence make
you think of a song you’re vaguely familiar with. Maybe you heard it on the radio, perhaps you heard you parents sing or hum it. Or
maybe you listened to your grandparents try to express the sentiment long before the song came into being. Who knows? Someone once
said that we are now breathing the breath of an ant that stood at the foot of the Great Pyramid before the Great Pyramid was ever built.
There is a better than even chance that everything is a part of everything else. I was watching a show about space a few years ago and
was told that human beings have the identical chemical composition as stars.
Books have been written about the ways in which wheatgrass is very much like human blood.
Far out stuff. Madison may be a little closer to home. I was thinking about Centro Hispano the other day. I didn’t have the honor and
privilege of knowing its first director. But I did play a role in helping to put together some of the earlier events like the big-time annual
fundraiser that used to be held on the Square with a paltry number of people in attendance. Now the annual event strains the seams of
Warner Park with Piñatas, all kinds of performers, a wide variety of vendors and displays. Jonathan Gramling, the publidher and editor
of The Capital City Hues is always there as he somehow manages to be everywhere.
There was the Madison Juneteenth celebration a quarter century ago. I videographed the very first one as well as some of the
auditions. The very first one was held at Penn Park. I remember it well because it was raining and the park was very crowded. I
wondered how the event could expand and at some point in time, Juneteenth was held at the then brand new Dane County Exposition
Center which went on to become the Alliant Energy Center. The move further dispelled the myth that bigger is (necessarily) better. The
bigger venue didn’t feel the same. The advantages (more space, a roof to render the event oblivious to rain, multiple bathrooms . . . )
did not make up for the loss in feeling. The following years saw Juneteenth return to Penn Park. It is truly a community event and not
just for those who live there. People of all colors from all over the county and the world are encouraged to attend. As was the case from
the very beginning, no alcohol is allowed. Booze is not part of the fabric of the event as it need not be integral to any part of any
community anywhere in the universe as we know it. I am proud and happy to say that I had a little to do with Juneteenth. I was a part of
MUM. Many years ago I learned about a few of the organizations that Madison Urban Ministry (MUM) played a significant role in getting
started. The then-director of MUM explained that that’s essentially what they did – help to get community organizations started then
moving on down the road. I was astonished at the web of connections and I was even more surprised because this information was
presented to me during a time when I thought that I knew everything. I am grateful that I had my eyes partially opened that day. It makes
me a bit less lonely to know that I am a part of something much larger than I could ever individually ever hope to be.
NAACP .Like many people, I played assorted roles in the organization over the years. I attended more annual banquets than you could
shake a stick at. Sometimes I was a member of the audience staring at those seated on the dais. At other times I was one of the people
sitting on the dais trying not to slide my chair too far back to avoid falling off of the elevated platform. During the latter of my
appearances at these important events, I was always faced with the charge of speaking for myself or the person I was there to
represent. The last banquet I went to was not memorable because I sat on the other side of the dais from a remarkable man. Some know
him as a singer. Others think they know him as a person who is committed to young people. Many kind of know him in various contexts
and I am happy to say that I am one of those people. On the night of which I speak, the central speech was delivered by a person who,
let’s say, had a fondness for using words that had not yet made it into any edition of Webster’s Dictionary. I’m happy that brotherman was
seated on the other side of the dais from me ‘cause we laughed like a couple of kids at church –not at the man who spoke to the hungry
throng, but because he gently forced us to remember and think about other assaults on the English language. These attacks were
usually launched by people who had spent time in the jails and prisons of this country and their complexions usually had a darker hue.
This happened to be more a part of rather than apart from what I’ve just attempted to describe.
I have many tales to tell about The Urban League, The Boy’s & Girls Club, Orchard Hill, Desayuno con los tres reyes magos y otras
cosas tambien. The long and short of it is that I am a part of this community and not apart from it, and I suspect that the same is true for
you. If you don’t believe me take a look at a few past issues of The Capital City Hues.