We should never forget that as necessary are dates and places in history, so people are equally, if not more so. Such as the offspring of the master and his enslaved housekeeper, children born some twenty-five years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Had they not found a haven to thrive, these children, who grew up to become my grandparents, would have been unable to accomplish their incredible work in urban African American communities across the United States and Canada. The refuge to which they were led was the Mennonite church, an organization whose alignment with Jim Crow laws of the Antebellum south belied any notion of racial egalitarianism. Lastly, had James Lark not been ordained as the church’s first Black bishop, a position that allowed him to appear to be a vassal of the church rather than a defender of injustice, had any of these things not happened, Flight of the Mourning Lark would not have been written.
How many times have I made the trip? Traveling from Sacramento to San Francisco, a distance of only some eighty miles or so, yet light years apart in attitude. Yeah, I am one of those people, one of those pitiful souls who worked in San Francisco, lived in Sacramento and commuted daily. For ten years, TEN YEARS, I made the trek, making sure I got to that office before most of my staff, and most definitely before my boss.
What’s more incredible, almost unfathomable, is that it was almost thirteen ago. And yet today, I make the journey thrilled beyond measure over the prospect of knowing that in just a few hours I will meet up with some of the most talented musicians in the business for a recording.
I smile as I look over in other cars. I offer my apologies to the guy that has just cut me off, and upon approaching the Bay Bridge toll booth, I get in the “Cash” lane even though I have a FasTrak pass, only so I can pay the toll for the car behind me. And speaking of Bay Bridge, I think ahead with great anticipation for I know in just a little over an hour, I will greet that scene that will surely take my breath away, that “Baghdad By the Bay” moment when I cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge. If that in and of itself would not have been enough, today I get to make beautiful music.