Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Senior Center Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

Above: In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday today, Diana Redecker reads an original poem at the Senior Center downtown.

Tears rolled after Diana Redecker read her original poem, "Sally and Tom," at the Senior Center today, written in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday is today, and was celebrated by several senior center groups, including the Forever Young Chorus, the Olympia Poetry Club, and the Reading Group.

Seniors gathered to share original poetry, personal stories and rememberances of the civil rights leader and movement, and hear excerpts read from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches and writings.

Redecker, who has participated with the Poetry Club for about a year and a half, also leads a senior discussion group about the history of the Pacific Northwest on Fridays. After educating those gathered about the relationship between Hemings and Jefferson, she moved several people to tears with the reading of her poem.

Her poem was written in the voice of Sally Hemings, an African-American slave. She was a half-sister to President Thomas Jefferson's wife Martha, and a partner to Jefferson for 38 years, having several children by him.

Sally and Tom

Tom, you loved Martha, my sister,
And now secretly you love me.
But when will our babies be free, Tom,
When will our babies be free?

Answer me, Tom, just answer.
Our babies are slaves, like me.
You wrote of freedom for all, Tom,
But when will our babies be free?

I've raised her children and mine, Tom,
But we can't call them one family.
Listen to me, Tom, I'm begging,
When can our babies be free?

Thirty-eight years we've lain together,
And your name you can't give to me.
And when we are laid in our graves, Tom,
Will you still lie beside me?

I have one question for you, Tom,
Can you invent something for me?
A long telescope to see a faraway time
When all babies will be free.

(copyright) Diana Redecker
January, 2010

In honor of Sally Hemings and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sara Rucker Theissen, Senior Services for South Sound activity coordinator, said later, "When we collaborate and celebrate special events, we go deep. It's heartfelt."

Above: Senior Services for South Sound is located in downtown Olympia at 222 Columbia St. NW. Senior Services offers a wide range of services and resources, entertainment, clubs, classes, caregiving and home health care assistance, meals and more. Contact them at 586-7408 or www.southsoundseniors.org.