"We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe that
We shall overcome someday"
-- Civil Rights Movement anthem based on Charles Albert Tindley's "I'll Overcome Someday"
"Two mules were hitched to the cart.
"The mules' names were Belle and Ada.
"'Ordinary mules for an ordinary funeral,' the people told one another. 'That is what he wanted.'
"'The mule is a symbol of freedom,' someone said.
"'Each slave got a mule and forty acres when he was freed.'"
I'm really feeling it all this week. Reading the news, and seeing on Facebook that some childhood friends made it down there, I'm now wishing I'd traveled to our nation's capital for this past weekend's fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington that was highlighted by Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I'm really feeling that reality about time moving on and friends, family, and heroes passing on, and how one must accept these changes, and how I nevertheless sometimes sit quietly and return to those days of being a little kid and watching the Movement on black and white television.
I've also been sitting here, watching clips on YouTube of Dr. King's funeral and seeing those mules and that cart and Aretha singing and Coretta and the kids sitting there in the church.
With the approach of the anniversary of March on Washington, I've been telling my own story about the "I Have a Dream" speech. For me, it took place just before the beginning of third grade, and I can still remember how, when I returned to school the following week, my first- and second-grade teachers came up to me, together, and told me about their amazing experience of having been in Washington, D.C. and having heard Dr. King deliver that speech. And the look in their eyes and the tone of their voices in telling me of their experience is something I remember so vividly a half-century later. It was a lesson to me in what in life is really meaningful and, in that way, it changed my young life.
"The cart rolled through the streets of Atlanta, past the Georgia state capitol.
"Sometimes the crowds sang as it passed.
"'We shall overcome,' they promised.
"Sometimes they stood in a holy silence, and the only sound was the rumble of wooden wheels."
THE CART THAT CARRIED MARTIN is based on a newspaper article Ms. Bunting read a few years ago about the cart that was used for Dr. King's funeral. Don Tate's pencil and gouache paintings really transport me to 1968 Atlanta with his great crowd scenes and with the sweet faces of the mules and with the depictions of that simple, old cart.
All these years later. Gone, but never forgotten.
32 pages 978-1-58089-9 Ages 7-10
Instructor, San Jose State University
School of Library and Information Science http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/