November 2018 – Minutes

CLJP Minutes November 13, 2018

Monticello Room, Westminster Canterbury

Present: Taylor Beard, Hal Horan, Dave Warren, Peter Weatherly, Bob McAdams, Chip Sanders, Bayard Catron, Ed Murray, Diane Murray, Carroll Houle, Dave Warren, John Peale, Burnie Davis, Carol Muntz, Jean Newsom, Phil Best, Burnie Davis

Guest: Susan Miller, introduced by Diane Murray

Ed Murray opened with prayer and Sanders presided.

The Minutes of the October 9 meeting prepared by Horan were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Since the October 9 balance of 2,476.85, Beard reported an income of 240.00, consisting of dues paid by McAdams, Sanders, Grupe and Gray, and an expense of 10.00, paid for our October speaker Gene Locke’s lunch, resulting in a balance for October 9 of 2,706.85.

Ed Murray asked if there had been any acknowledgement of the death of Bill Gray’s wife, Antoinette on October 12. This prompted Horan to acknowledge Antoinette as a long time member of his film class and Antoinette’s long leadership in the International Women’s Group, sponsored by UVA, where she twice invited Horan’s wife, Del to show and tell of her quilts.

Horan then moved with Diane Murray’s second that a contribution be made to whatever charity was listed in Antoinette’s obituary. (No charity was listed, so the check was contributed to Congregation Beth Israel, with a request that the synagogue notify Bill Gray.)

Apologies to McAdams for my unavoidable delay in getting these minutes, hoping his

United Kingdom House of Commons debate on the possibility of a Nonviolent society was a success and that that his side won.

Program: John Peale on the Black Experience in America with special reference to James H. Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2011)

Peale started by acknowledging that he was well aware that his speaking from a “white privileged perch” necessitated a humbled honesty.

Peale began with stories of two children: Martin Luther King, Jr. weeping as he watched is father being humiliated by 3 white toughs and James H. Cone waiting a very long time for his father to come home which he eventually and happily did. In both cases, like a very dark cloud of terror from which no black person was exempt from lynching, was the way whites could secure a lynching tree even on the most flimsy reasoning.

After the failure of Reconstruction and the rise of the KKK, lynching was a means of white control, should any black try to essentially assert his rights.  Lynchings were often attended by hundreds local whites, so much so that often post card manufacturers set up portable card makers on the spot, so folks could keep as a souvenir or send the grim pictures to “friends and loved ones.”

The lynching tree caught the imagination of black poets who saw in the tree exact parallels of the cross. After all, the Roman empire had practiced crucifixion as a grisly visual reminder to their conquered lands as to exactly who was in charge.

In fact, Peter’s witness to the crucified Christ uses a tree instead of a cross—Acts 10:39  “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.”

Cone maintains that while the whites had the upper hand in all matters, starting in the ante bellum period when slaves were taught that they were “no—nothings,” they didn’t rule the blacks’ spiritual life in which they could see themselves as children of God, transforming the lynching tree through suffering love into a despair defeating hope.

Poets and song writers saw in the lynching tree Christ being crucified again and again like a bitter crop of the “strange fruit” that Billie Holiday first recorded in 1939 by a Manhattan record store. At the time Holiday was known only to those who frequented the New York City Café Society. Time magazine would later call Billie Holiday history’s greatest jazz singer and “Strange Fruit,” the best song of the century.

In 1963, Robert Kennedy invited several black notables to his NYC apartment  for a discussion on race, hoping to avoid in the north the unrest that was happening in the south.  As a political move, the discussion did not go well, being told that he did not understand the problem.  Later, James Baldwin would write to Kennedy: “No truce can be binding until the American people and our representatives are able to accept the simple fact that the negro is a man.”

Kennedy later resigned as Attorney General and become a senator from NY.  He began to see race not as a political matter, but as “a moral rot at the heart of the American empire.”

He put on “the shoes of the dispossessed” walked the painful walk.  Perhaps that is why, after his assassination on June 3, 1968, so many folks, both black and white, stood in silent homage as his funeral train passed.

This was an attempt to keep my minutes to the usual 2 pages, front and back.  Hence, the summary.  For the full account of Peale’s excellent presentation, the link is  http://clujp.org/?page_id=482at

I also urge you to see Bill Moyers excellent interview with James Cone discussing his book https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVyo5dzYs44

Link to a recording of Billie Holiday’s song about lynching, “Strange Fruit,’

 

Cone’s childhood experience of  the anxiety he felt on his father’s delay getting home, reminded this scribe of another song about lynching— “Supper Time,” written by Irving Berlin for the 1933 musical As Thousands Cheer, where it was introduced by Ethel Waters.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=297&v=Y5Zvjjbc-Hk

The next time we gather will be Tuesday, December 11.

The meeting adjourned at  2:05 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Hal Horan, Recording Secretary