Friday, May 25, 2012

Some poetry has died.

I realize I write a lot about dead people. But ever since I was, as we say in New York, knee-high to a cockroach I have enjoyed reading the death notices in "The New York Times." They are, at their best, portraits of the large and small who have changed our world.

Today there is the obituary of Hal Jackson, a pioneering radio announcer who died at 96 having spent more than seven decades on the air. Jackson, who was black, became one of the first black announcers in the nation, defying the "no nigger" policy then prevalent across "the land of the free."

The inflammatory Rev. Al Sharpton had this to say about Jackson: "Hal was the constant voice of black America...From M.L.K. to a black president, he literally was the one who connected those dots.”

It's a great story, the obituary, and well worth the three or five minutes it will take you to read it.  If nothing else it will remind you of the progress America has made in race relations as well as the power of persistence and dreaming. Jackson broke through like few others have.

But the biggest thing I got out of the obituary are the words below. We forget about, too often, the power of living language and poetry. Jackson had the gift. And he will be missed.

“This is Hal Jackson, the host that loves you the most, welcoming you to ‘The House That Jack Built.’ We’re rolling out the musical carpet, and we’ll be spinning a few just for you. So come on in, sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite recording stars from here to Mars.”

1 comment:

Graham Strong said...

Interesting -- read that last passage, and you immediately realize where the inspiration for Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati came from.