Tyler, Texas was one of the hundreds of cities which had a March for Our Lives event on Saturday March 24th from 10-Noon. It was held on the Downtown Square, just like the Dreamers event on March 6th. It was estimated that 200 people attended the event; all ages were represented, and lots of folks had signs.
Tyler is in Smith County–a city of 105K, roughly 100 miles east of Dallas. Politically, Tyler is known for always voting Republican but having a low voter turnout. Economically, Tyler is classified as an “Eds and Meds” Economy with two large hospitals and three colleges. There are lots of restaurants and hotels too. A quarter-million people work in Tyler during the day; then just over half go home to some small town.
Anne McCrady was the host of the event. She is locally famous for the annual Art of Peace event in Fall–as well as poetry and activism in general. We heard from Reverend Stuart Baskin, a Presbyterian minister–who gave a stirring speech at a Martin Luther King celebration several years ago. The 2010 MLK Community Celebration fulfilled Dr. King’s prediction that one day the sons of the slave master and slave would sit at the table of brotherhood together. The other keynote speaker that day was Wallace Jefferson–the first African-American Chief Justice in Texas. Reverend Baskin’s great, great grandfather once owned Judge Jefferson’s great, great grandfather! http://english.ohmynews.com/ArticleView/article_view.asp?no=385940&rel_no=1 I told him about my account of his talk that I’d had published in South Korea. His daughter remembered me as her substitute teacher at a nearby high school. Then it was time to “pass the mic around.” Here’s my take, to borrow an expression from Fareed Zakaria.
“I’m a former teacher too. Assault rifles should be for the military, not civilians. And not many military need assault rifles either–except the infantry and some others. You don’t need an assault rifle if you’re taking care of a helicopter.
We should be embarrassed at being the most dangerous advanced country. It’s not enough to be safer than Honduras.
And finally, when we closed our eyes and thought of a shooting victim, I remembered a favorite student and got misty-eyed. Not all gang violence is Crips vs. Bloods. It can be Intra-Crip violence. Thank you.”
Mrs. McCrady and I happened to attend the same church today, and she congratulated me for my talk. I visited with her husband, Dr. Mike McCrady before the service. It turns out Dr. McCrady knows my pulmonologist, Dr. Luis Destarac. This has been a good weekend.