An area known for its great food and music and for the movie Steel Magnolias is also known for its racial strife and the part it played in the old Confederacy, all mixed together on a day of remembrance in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Politicians speak today, as they often do, of times now past, of things undone. A program on the mantle piece tells of a church memorial in Natchitoches, and a newspaper story tells of the significance of the day. Martin Luther King was killed, as older folk remember the violence that took place across the land, even as a small town divided by race remained somewhat silent, despite its broken hearts.
Natchitoches was too small for violence on the day Martin Luther King was killed, where people know each other well. An old white attorney and a black business leader stood together in those days to maintain an unspoken truce at a time when television images showed cities rioting in anger and in grief.
Folks in the town talk of the strange dichotomy that still exists in the South where people continue to celebrate the tearing of the nation and the dying of the dream.
Along the river where sit majestic homes, the backside of one of them flies a flag. People can barely see it from the downtown, but it is there, waving all the same. It celebrates the old South even as today the nation mourns a fallen leader. The flag is memorialized each day as it waves in the air, the symbol of defiance and the death of brave young men.
It's early morning; the sun begins its ascent and its dancing on Cane River.
The people wake up to the sounds of spring and the unfolding of the different hues that open up the heart. The winter is gone at last, a winter folks suffered through, colder than many remembered in many, many years.
The changing of the seasons took its time, even as the old ways seem to linger in a town that has its beauty and its pain.
Natchitoches celebrates love and support of people at critical times in the film Steel Magnolias, but it is also the place where the book Uncle Tom's Cabin was written, a book that talked of the terrible lives of slaves and served as one of the catalysts for war reminded by a Confederate flag. These symbols are also reminders to many of the racial divisions that take so long to heal.
The Confederate flag flies on the day folks remember Martin Luther King, on a day when a black President leads a nation once torn apart by race, reminding people that the dream has not yet come, even as the leader that told us of it is memorialized today.
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