Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Night Two of U2 in Detroit – People Have the Power

Message left on our banner
Originally uploaded by Brande Jackson.
Rosa Parks definitely had a presence at the show last night – I was thinking about that as we drove to the show, she had passed away in this city the day before. I was brought back to a discussion I had with my 3rd and 4th grade students at some point last year in discussing civil rights. We were talking about heroes – what makes a person brave, and they inevitably wanted to know my thoughts. I brought up Parks – one of the truest examples of bravery that I could think of that would also make sense to an 8 year old. ‘It would be like someone telling your grandma as she is coming home from work, having a bad back and being tired that she couldn’t sit in the seat on the bus, even though it was open, because of the color of her skin, because of who she was’ I told them, nearly all of them first generation immigrants from Mexico and Central America. ‘And now imagine your little old grandma looking up at some big mean man and saying ‘no’ because she knew she was right and refusing to move.’ They all sat back for a minute, some with grins imaging their grandma taking on the man, others noticeably upset at this prospect of someone being that cruel to their grandma. I was thinking of that conversation with my kids last night when Bono talked about Parks before ‘One’: “Middle aged woman going home on a bus, refused to give up her seat for a younger man, because of her quiet dignity and strength America became a better changed country”. Inevitably, it brings you back to this work we are doing with ONE – work essentially supporting those people that show countless acts of bravery every single day of their life, going about working towards something they have every right to: a life that isn’t cut short by stupid and pointless and preventable poverty.

Doing this work, I honestly never have nights where I ‘go through the motions’ – you can’t do this work if you get to that point, the only thing that keeps you going through the insane hours and travel is a love and belief in what you are doing. But there are nights when what you are doing becomes crystal clear and you can see the larger connections – sometimes it’s an interaction with a fan, some nights it’s the conversation you have with your co-workers en-route to the venue, some nights it’s because of the band, and some nights it’s because of the world at large. Last night was one of those unique nights where it was a little bit of all of the above. Detroit fans have proven to be incredibly supportive of this campaign, Parks was on everyone’s mind, including Bono’s, the snippet of ‘MLK’ at the end of ‘One’ that gave me – someone that been at over 50 U2 shows this year! – the chills, one of the few performances of ‘Crumbs From Your Table’ - a song that was playing a lot when we were planning and designing outreach for this tour in the early winter months of this year - all combine to leave you feeling like there is a larger force that connects us all. And the end of the night, touching on what happened in DC, with ‘Bad’ giving way to ‘People Have the Power’ (something that is quickly becoming my favorite moment of the night when it happens) and the crowd taking over on the vocals – there is something powerful about a 23,000 people singing, something joyous, and there is something incredible about that many people joining in together in conveying such a simple and powerful message. It may be ‘just a rock show’, but it leaves you feeling a lot of hope, with a distinct sense of being a part of something that is larger than us all, and in the end, that is what matters most.

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