I filled her in (briefly) on slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws and lynchings, the KKK and Mississippi Burning (incidentally one of my favorite movies). I read a couple of Langston Hughes poems, while her attention slowly drifted.
We concluded by listening to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, a song she was already familiar with but had never really listened to. Like most children, she has a fascination with the morbid, so once I told her it was about a hanging she was all ears. That song has always given me the chills.
Overall, a winning and informative afternoon. I fulfilled the role of fatherly teacher with aplomb. Even my three-year-old jumped into the conversation when it turned to crows eating dead bodies (a weighty and important subject to all three-year-olds.)
I probably scarred them both.
The offshoot of all this is that I rediscovered some of the great jazz CDs in my collection. I haven’t listened to them much in probably a year. I broke out Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives & Hot Sevens on the way to and from work. Bix Beiderbecke & Miles & Wynton Marsalis on Rhapsody at the workplace. What fabulous music.
I’ve resolved not to let the discs gather dust again this year.