Friday, December 28, 2018

Unexpected Gifts: Visions of Angels

Our very talented priest at St. Richards, Winter Park, provided an unexpected gift this Christmas Eve. Her sermon took an unusual turn for Christmas Eve sermons. She talked about angels.

The lectionary text from Luke is the only account of shepherds who saw angels in the skies over Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. Luke paints such vivid portraits of the events he narrates. Little wonder he is the favorite epistoler for many of us.

Marc Chagall, Israelites Eating the Passover Lamb, 1931
The first angel to appear to the shepherds had to first quiet their fears. Contrary to the cutesy, Hallmark visions of angels, these messengers of G-d (Hebrew, mal'akh) were often experienced as a fierce, imposing presence of the holy. There is a reason they almost always begin their encounters with human beings with the greeting “Peace!” followed by assurances that the humans encountering them are not in danger.

In Luke’s story, the angel relates the news of a Messiah who had come to save all of Israel, a child born in Bethlehem, the City of David. They are told that they would recognize this child by the very meager state of his birth: a baby wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in a manger, the feed trough of domestic animals – hardly the stuff of the “king of kings” as the Christ child will eventually be constructed by later Christian theologians. 

Abraham Hondius, The Annunciation, 1663
As the shepherds arose to go find this newborn child, the skies suddenly erupted with angels: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven…” This angel encounter is a part of the story that is usually glossed over quickly in Christmas Eve sermons.

But not this night.

Alison told the parish that, like the baby Jesus, there are angels around each of us when we are born. When we see babies staring out into the distance, smiling and cooing, reaching out to something no one else sees, they are acknowledging the angels they can still see that are always around all of us all the time.

Sadly, as we mature into fully grown human beings, we lose sight of those angels and many of us come to believe they simply don’t exist. Never underestimate the proclivities of the modern rational mind to dismiss as nonsense that which it cannot explain through empiricism and left brain reason. Modern control issues play out in many ways.

A Taste of Heaven    

But not all of us lose sight of those angels.

I awoke Christmas morning dreaming of angels. With a smile on my face, I began to think of the times that I had been aware of the angels present in my life. 

In a class in seminary, we were invited to try to remember our very earliest memories we were capable of recalling. We were told it would provide some insight into how we saw G-d. One scene arose immediately.

At the end of my second year, my family moved to Sebring in the heart of cattle and citrus country. We lived in one half of an asphalt shingled duplex in a complex of the same situated across the highway from a former air force base and bombing range. These duplexes had at one time housed enlisted men and their families during the second world war. The complex was originally called Splinter City, hardly a glamorous appellation. After a recent visit to that place, I think the name was probably well deserved. But to a three-year-old with a vivid imagination, it was a magical place.

One afternoon right around Christmas time in 1956, I was sitting on the wood floor in the passageway between the kitchen and the living room. My Mother was cooking and singing, as she often did. The wonderful smells of chicken and dumplings and collard greens and my Mother's beautiful voice filled the room.

This space served as an exit to the fenced back yard. There my sand box with all the toys my little brother and I used to build castles awaited us under the sheltering arms of a big oak tree. A French door with glass panes down its length led to the outside. Though it was chilly outside that day, the warm light of the afternoon sun poured through those windows at an angle. I sat in that pool of sunlight, playing with my toys.

Suddenly something caught my attention. In the sunlight dozens of dust devils were dancing in the golden sunlight. When I would reach out toward them, they eluded me and all of them would dance even more energetically.

“Momma,” I exclaimed, “The angels are here!”

“Of course they are, honey. They’re all around us all the time.”

For that moment, I think I had a brief taste of heaven: a warm, sunlit room in my home, my saintly Mother just steps away, cooking up food producing heavenly smells and singing. 

"Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe..." 

All was well in the world. I felt safe, deeply loved by both G-d and the family I had been given, and completely content. Heaven.

A Very Close Call

But this would not be my last visitation by angels.

I believe my Mother was right. Angels do surround us in our daily lives even as we are often oblivious to them. But she was also convinced that there are guardian angels assigned to each of us that watch over and sometimes step in to protect us from ourselves. In my lifetime, I have had that experience more than once.

In 1972, I was in community college and just beginning to come to grips with my sexuality. It would probably have been easier had I ended up a Kinsey 1 (on a scale of six) rather than a position close to the middle of the scale, three on most days, three and a half after a couple of beers. The result was no small amount of confusion particularly in a heterosexist culture which pressured its members to be heterosexual or at least pretend they were.

After a girlfriend had dumped me, I fell into a deep depression. Truth be told, I was terrified of the truth lurking within my unconscious that I might actually be gay. Being rejected only intensified that doubt. After a sleepless night, I drove to her workplace and parked in the lot at the time I knew she’d be going into work. I just sat in my car and watched her walk in and wept. Only later did I realize how creepy that was.

After she entered the hospital to begin her shift, I began the drive back to my trailer near the college where I lived during my first two years of college. As I neared the town of Tavares, where US 441 splits the middle of Lake Woodward, I decided that the pain I was feeling would never go away and that it was not worth living given that reality.

At 65 mph, I headed my car off the highway toward the lake.

Archangel Jophiel 
My car was completely off the highway and beginning to descend down the banks of the lake when in my head I heard a voice loudly shout “No!” The next thing I knew, I was back on 441 nearing the far end of the bridge across the lake.

I had been spared.

Weeks later my Mother would ask me, “Son, what were you doing at about 6:30 last Thursday.” At first I resisted telling her knowing it would upset her. But Mother persisted. “I need to know,” she said.

“I was completely asleep when something woke me up and I just knew there was something terribly wrong with you. I was absolutely terrified. All I knew to do was to get out of bed, onto my knees and pray for your safety. And so I did. And after about a half hour, I knew you were OK and was able to go back to bed.”

“So, tell me what happened, Son.”

Her face fell as I recounted those awful moments. They had occurred precisely when my Mother had had her experience. With tears in her eyes, she simply said, “Son, the guardian angels are watching over you.”

Putting the Angels to the Test

That would not be the last time I would put the guardian angels to the test.

The day I was accepted into my doctoral program at FSU in 1991 I was awakened in my home in Fremont, California at 5 AM PST with a call from Tallahassee, Florida, where it was 8 AM EST. “I just thought you’d want to know the good news,” the office manager said.

I was overjoyed. I was going to be able to live into my dream to get a Ph.D. But that proved to be a very long day that began in triumph and ended in disaster.  

It was midterms time at the Graduate Theological Union where I was in my first term as a Masters of Arts student. I had been up most of the previous night working on a final paper. I’d had little sleep.

I also had no one to celebrate with me. Andy had gone to work crying that morning, grieving that I would be leaving him once again to return home to Florida. He had hoped we would stay in California.

When I arrived home that night, he was still not home, attending class at a University of California extension to hone his programming skills. I was lonely, desperate for someone to share my good news. So I decided to go to the closest gay bar, some 15 miles up Mission Boulevard, to find someone to celebrate with me. There on an empty stomach and about three hours of sleep, I was soon congratulated by patrons at the bar with rounds of peppermint schnapps shots and beer. And very soon I realized I was in deep trouble.

I knew I was in no condition to drive home when I left the bar about 11 PM and I never did make it home. Only five miles from my home, a wave of unconsciousness passed over me. I drifted off the road into the back of a parked semi-truck and totaled my car.

The next few days are largely outside my memory, perhaps mercifully. I was bruised but had no major injuries. The glass moon roof over my head had remained intact even as the passenger side of the car was smashed. I had been very lucky, indeed.

The deeper injuries were to my person. I was just about to be ordained deacon, finishing four years of seminary and ordination process. I’d come to California to attend seminary on my own nickel without any diocesan sponsorship. I’d found a parish to sponsor me and a bishop who’d agree to ordain an openly gay man, no small feat in 1991. As I assessed my situation, it felt like everything I had worked so hard to accomplish was about to go down the tube.

Enter the angels.

Russian icon, 19th CE, Guardian Angel
In the hospital that night, I found that when I would awaken from the sound sleep that results from trauma and medication, I could hear the sounds of wings fervently beating all around me. I felt protected, lifted out of my misery.

That would continue over the next few days as I recovered at home. Each time the realization of my serious error in judgment and my resulting predicament enveloped me and I began to despair, I would hear those angel wings and found myself flooded with a sense of well-being and words of comfort: All will be well. Do not worry. I am with you.

When I told my Mother about that experience she simply said, “Son, you have some very strong guardian angels protecting you. There must be a reason for that.”

I have taken that last statement very seriously ever since. Whatever that reason might be, I was clear I needed to take this “one precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of with no small amount of seriousness. I learned a lot of lessons from my experience 23 years ago. That has included the wisdom not to let the worst thing I ever did define me.

Angels in Human Form

There have been other close calls in my life in which I believe angels played a role. You see, while I have come to question a number of the theological constructions that form the basis of western Christian dogma over the years, I’ve never doubted the existence of a G-d whose presence I experience everywhere I look. And my nearly constant sense of the presence of those who have gone before me convince me that an afterlife of ongoing growth into the image of that G-d awaits me and all of G-d’s creatures. In light of that, the presence of angels all around us all the time is not much of a leap.

Beloved Nanny, Henrietta Hadley (1984)

I am also clear that there are angels who appear unbeknownst to us in human form all the time. There are those strangers who suddenly appear out of nowhere without whose interventions our lives would have gone very differently, perhaps even ended at that moment. 

There are also those who appear at pivotal moments in your life to guide you. Many of my angels have been women – wise, strong, loving – whose roles in my life have proven indispensable. For the presence in my life of all these angels and the gifts they have brought to it, I will always be deeply grateful.

But I do not take them for granted. There are times that I envision arriving in the afterlife to encounter a double line of guardian angels standing in front of the Pearly Gates, arms crossed, serious looks on their face. No doubt I will need to pass through that gauntlet to get to the gates to the afterlife. Sometimes I can even hear them saying, “Mr. Coverston, please step over here for a moment. There are a few matters we’d like to talk with you about….”


Glory, Indeed….

In all honesty, I was not expecting to hear about angels Christmas Eve. That was a gift. And I did not expect to awaken Christmas morning thinking about the angels that have graced my life. That, too, was a gift.

For all these unexpected but wonderful gifts I have received this Christmas, beginning with the sermon which stirred up these visions and the vibrant parish in which unexpected gifts are often the norm, I am grateful. And for all the angels who inhabit my life and those who watch over it, I am ever in your debt.

Glory to G-d in the highest, indeed!

Stained glass over altar, St. Richards


Harry Scott Coverston

Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston 2018


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ocoee: Justice Delayed Finally Arrives – Part II

[Continued from Part I]

Passing Through the Refiner’s Fire

Orange County was simply not ready to deal with its history the night in 1998 the Democracy Forum first held up the mirror for Ocoee to see its then 78 year old Shadow.

But things change, even in an Orange County with a once virulently racist past. The county in which the Ku Klux Klan felt free to parade in city streets by torch light a mere century ago is now just under 41% white non-Hispanic in composition. Those of African descendance now make up nearly one quarter of the population.

Ocoee, which just elected its first person of color to its City Commission in 2016, is today a diverse city its ancestors could have scarcely conceived of. The US Census report of 2017 estimates the population of Ocoee to be just above 50% white, non-Hispanic.

However, demographic changes alone do not do the hard work of owning a collective Shadow. Embracing a bloody past rooted in a racism which has abated in its virulence but never completely gone away is the stuff of hard work, of gut checks, of conscience wrestling, of letting go of worldviews that oriented their holders to what they saw as reality.

All of those very human behaviors were on display last week as the Ocoee City Commission engaged in an act of repentance, redemption and resurrection. Its Mayor, Rusty Johnson, a white man emerging from the simmering stew of Southern racism in which many of us here were raised, issued a proclamation that acknowledged the dark events of November 1920 and asserted that they would never happen again here or anywhere else.

The proclamation designates November 2 as a day of solemn commemoration in Ocoee and reflects the Council’s decision to place a state historical marker in its civic plaza to remember those events and to inform those who do not know of them. It is scheduled to be dedicated Nov. 2, 2020, the one hundredth anniversary of the Election Day Massacre.

While the proclamation could have been issued by the Mayor alone, it was striking that he took the initiative to have the entire Commission vote on the proclamation. It passed unanimously. Much like the Brown v. The Board case decided by the 1954 Warren Court, it was essential that the decision makers be recorded as unanimous in their determination to repudiate this history and to vow to head in a new direction. The proclamation explicitly rejected its history as a “sundown town” and embraced a new identity as a “sunrise city” marked by diversity and acceptance.

The people of Ocoee have done some remarkable soul-searching. It is not easy to first embrace and then distance oneself from a history that implicates one’s town and one’s ancestors in terrible acts. No doubt, not every Ocoee resident shares the willingness to do so. But this event took courage, the leaders of Ocoee proving willing to pass through the refiner’s fire. The end result, noted by Bill Maxwell, the African-American voice of the Diversity Board, was a measure of redemption.

All of them are to be commended.

Prophetic Action

“For he has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

It would be easy to tell this story and focus only on the official, historical aspects of this event. Some historians are prone to do so. But when you are an eyewitness to history being made, your perspective is a little more fleshed out, a little more immediate,  than mere dates, names and events can convey.

When the vote on the proclamation was complete, the Commission opened the floor to speakers to respond to their action. What followed was one of the most remarkable events of my life.

The Mayor would begin the process of truth telling, offering his own story of how he came to recognize the need for this proclamation. Much of it centered around the voyage with his Diversity Board to the opening of the EJI Lynching Memorial in Montgomery. But the Mayor referenced his faith, citing scriptures from Hebrew and Christian sources, evidencing how the faith expressed therein inspired the faithful to “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with G_d.” (Micah 6:8)

Thereafter, speaker after speaker rose to relate their responses to this action. Some of the descendants of families who lost their homes and their loved ones related the pain of unacknowledged suffering, of seeing a once vibrant history simply erased as if it had never happened. One of them pointedly responded to the Commission: “I accept your apology.”

What resulted was an eruption of justice, mercy and humility that was striking in its similarities to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made famous by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in post-apartheid South Africa. As the speakers told of their pain from years of injustice, the Commission and audience, including some descendants of those who had caused that pain, listened attentively, some dabbing their eyes.

All around me, people wept tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of redemption. And at that moment, with tears in my own eyes, I realized how incredibly privileged I was to be present for this incredible event where truths were spoken and reconciliation sought.

Hard Work Still Ahead

For many of us who have been working toward this day, the proclamation was both a bit of a surprise even as it was a wonderful affirmation of the hard work so many have done over the past four decades. 

The heavy lifting on this project was done by the Diversity Board of Ocoee whose work for two decades was praised at the commission meeting. They, in turn, had been brought into being as a result of two groups that began the initial work toward owning this Shadow beginning in the late 1980s, the Democracy Forum and the West Orange Reconciliation Task Force.

The local Orange County Task Force of the Equal Justice Initiative which last spring dedicated its new lynching memorial and museum in Montgomery was also instrumental in this accomplishment. For the past two years placing a marker in Ocoee has been a primary goal. Seeing it soon to be realized is heart-warming. Recognizing that the achievement of that placement ultimately came from within Ocoee itself is even more so.

The work of the Task Force is not completed, however. Our soil collections from the sites of the massacre in Ocoee and the lynchings in Orlando will soon be placed on display in the museum in Montgomery. We are working out the details on placing markers in Orlando to mark the two lynchings there we have been able to document, one of them July Perry.

We are also hard at work developing our many town hall forums across the region into an educational-curricula for local schools. Our children must know their heritage, ALL of it. Toward that end, the task force is overseeing a scholarship essay competition at five of the Orange County high schools. 

Finally, its collection of artifacts and documentary evidence will soon form the basis for an exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center during 2020, the centennial year of the massacre. It will also provide the materials for traveling exhibits for events across the state.

Much hard work lies before us. But for this day, I am deeply grateful. It is the first step toward a justice too long delayed which has finally begun to arrive.

EJI-OTF soil collection, possible lynching site of July Perry, Orlando


Harry Scott Coverston

Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston 2018


Ocoee: Justice Delayed Finally Arrives – Part I

“This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’"  Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" 16 April 1963

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” Theodore Parker, 1850, restated by Martin Luther King, Jr., 1956

Last Tuesday, history was made in a once small town with a very dark history. In Ocoee, a now burgeoning suburb of Orlando, the City Commission unanimously voted in favor of a proclamation recognizing an atrocity that had occurred there and vowing it would never happen again.

A Deadly, Destructive Frenzy

The Ocoee Massacre occurred nearly 100 years ago just a couple of miles from the sprawling lakeside municipal services complex where the commission convened. The gleaming structures fronting a nearby lake with its sparkling fountain are a stark contrast to the grim events of nearly a century ago when a moral panic whipped the then small citrus town into a deadly, destructive frenzy. 

On Nov. 2, 1920, two African-American men attempted to vote in the presidential election in Ocoee. They had been encouraged by a white Republican appointed federal judge who hoped to make political inroads in a Solid South whose local Democratic hegemony was the public face of the Ku Klux Klan.

Ultimately, the men were prevented from voting by poll officials. They cited Florida’s Jim Crow laws passed to nullify the effects of the 15th Amendment enfranchising former male slaves in the wake of the Civil War.  When the men persisted, one of them was pistol whipped before fleeing the polling place.

 With rumors swirling around town of an impending riot, one of the men, July Perry, would be taken into custody at his home, transported the 10 miles to Orlando and placed in the county jail. Before the night was over, he would be broken out of his jail cell by a white mob, dragged through the streets behind a car, strung from a tree and used for target practice.

Reports of this lynching place it at various sites within Orlando. One of those sites would have located the lynching within sight of the home of one John Moses Cheney, the judge who had encouraged the victim to defy the Jim Crow system and vote.

Responding to Racist Dog Whistles

But the trouble was just beginning in Ocoee. Perry had been taken custody following an altercation at his home in which both Perry and a white police officer had been shot. As local citizens stood in the Wall Street Plaza in downtown Orlando watching election returns posted on a street front display, word swept through the crowd that a racial riot was occurring in Ocoee and all available “volunteers” were called to assemble in Ocoee to help restore “order.”

Racist dog whistles have long been the norm among white Southerners who wish to retain a patina of socially respectability even as they continue to hold racist values and engage in behaviors designed to preserve white male dominance. That practice continues today as was recently observed in the Florida gubernatorial race.  

In the 1920 version of dog whistle speak, “volunteers” essentially meant local Klansmen. A nighttime torch-lit parade of Klansmen had just occurred in the streets of Orlando a couple of weeks before the election to emphasize that no African-American men would vote in that election. It was bad enough that women could no longer be denied the franchise in 1920, following the ratification of the 19th Amendment. References to “order” essentially meant that local white male dominators were not about to give up control without a fight.

Before the night was over, the North Quarters of Ocoee where Perry once lived would be reduced to cinders. Homes, churches and a Masonic Lodge would all be burned to the ground, some with their human occupants still inside. Reports tell of terrified victims fleeing their burning homes only to be shot down in the fields they once tilled. While there are no clear records of casualties, estimates range from 3 to 63 dead that night. 
What is clear is that an entire residential neighborhood of Ocoee vanished overnight. While the nearby South Quarters, another African-American neighborhood, was not razed, its residents would quickly flee Ocoee thereafter leaving behind homes and property, major accomplishments for a people just 50 years removed from a time when some of the older residents had themselves been seen as property.

No African-Americans would vote anywhere in Orange County for another 17 years. And for nearly 70 years thereafter Ocoee would be an all-white town. Should any person of color decide to challenge that, the lore of a hanging tree complete with rope and signs warning them not to let the sun go down on them in that town reinforced a segregation born in atrocity.

“Forget it as soon as possible…”

Human Shadow, both individual and collective, has a way of avoiding conscious confrontation. It is a very human response to the cognitive dissonance that awareness of wrongdoing produces to repress it from active memory. In Orange County the repression of the Ocoee massacre and Perry lynching began almost immediately.  

The day after the worst election day violence in American history, the embers of former homes, churches and two Masonic Lodges in Ocoee were still flickering in the North Quarters. Soil had just begun to settle on the grave of July Perry in Orlando’s historical Greenwood Cemetery. Ironically, that grave would be located just yards away from the eventual gravesite of one of the leaders of the massacre, Colonel Sam Salisbury.

The November 3, 1920 editorial of the Orlando Evening Star called the incidents in Ocoee and downtown Orlando “deplorable.” It advised its readers that “Now that the disturbance in the western section of the county has come to an end, all citizens should forget it as soon as possible.” Two days later the paper would attempt to rationalize that advice with the explanation that “any further investigation would stir up memories better left alone and would only leave an everlasting feeling against them [Negroes] in all Orange.” The use of self-absolving constructs are common in denial.

Clearly the people of Orange County took the advice of the newspaper for many years. Attempts to remember – and thus redeem – the events of 1920 did not even rise to consciousness on any kind of an organized level until the late 1980s. Calling themselves the Democracy Forum, a group of social justice advocates, largely members of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, quickly drew other local activists excited to finally begin unearthing those two nights of horror in Orange County and their aftermath.

With the help of the cemetery sexton, the Forum located the grave of July Perry in Greenwood and paid to have a marble commemorative stone placed on his final resting place. They began to gather a wealth of stories, photos and documentary evidence from newspaper crypts and the files of the NAACP in Jacksonville. They discovered a short story by Zora Neal Hurston about the Ocoee massacre which inadvertently affirmed the local white party line which described the events as a “riot” requiring law enforcement to put it down.

When the Democracy Forum had accrued enough evidence to feel confidence in finally telling its story, it scheduled a public forum. The widely publicized event was held at a Border’s Books set amidst a gleaming modern shopping district complete with mall and theaters within a couple of miles of the killing fields of Ocoee.

By all accounts, it was a tense evening.

“It wasn’t us…Let’s just move on…”

Descendants of the participants in the massacre challenged the use of the term massacre (“Any incident becomes a massacre when more than six people are killed” replied the sociologist from nearby Valencia College). They challenged the death toll which ranges from 3 to 63 depending upon which of the documentary sources one uses, none of which are official in modern terms. The local coroner’s office cannot verify any number higher than three. No doubt that is because many of the dead were burned to death in their homes or buried by their murderers.

But, the more salient responses of the local community to the forum took two directions.

One, it wasn’t us. Many would argue that Klansmen came from miles around to participate in the slaughter of African-Americans, many of whose financial prosperity had begun to challenge their white farming counterparts in the citrus belt of Florida. It was a bit of an ironic twist on the “outside agitators” dismissal of the legitimacy of civil rights actions during the 1960s.

Souvenir postcard from Massacre, found at

Of course, there was a network of Klansmen, many of whom were local political officials, in Central Florida’s citrus belt. The descendants of plantation owners who had migrated to Florida after the Civil War, it’s hardly surprising that their fear and loathing of the black labor source they saw as both less than fully human and yet essential to their profit-making could have played a role in these events.

But the second direction of resistance to the re-membering of the Ocoee Massacre took a more familiar turn: Why stir all this up now? Let’s just move on. Let bygones be bygones.

This is the stuff of repression and denial. It’s also the stuff of Shadow, dark memories repressed from consciousness which take a life of their own in unconscious psychic sewers, just waiting for a chance to come to life in the form of projections onto vulnerable targets. 

All of this occurred in an Orange County which in 1998 was in the midst of yet another major demographic shift, much like the context of the original events. With local identity up in the air, it’s little wonder this first attempt to bring the events of that awful night to consciousness would prove unsuccessful.

Whatever else it was, Orange County was simply not ready to deal with its history that night.

[continued, Part II]

Harry Scott Coverston

Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston 2018