Thursday, February 17, 2011

Durham: The City that Moves Like Jazz

There’s so much to love about Durham. The stunning buildings that once served as the cottages for the tobacco industry are the perfect link between the past and present of a city like no other. Durham is a village that moves like jazz music. The sway of our collective bodies anticipates the next shift like the adding of a new instrument bringing solo to rich harmony.

Durham is that big band grooving in a way that transcends the burden of boundaries. We bring to this composition the strength of our historical claims. Can you hear the drum swing over in Hayti? Can you hear the trumpet blow blue notes over in Walltown? Listen to the sax moan in Braggtown. It’s the blend that makes it swing.

Yes, Durham knows how to dance to melody made possible by the varied voices in the band. Oh, what an astonishing sound we make. It’s not the clatter of chaos; it’s the blending made possible due to mutual respect and admiration. Those myriad of voices can’t play until each understands the contribution of the other players.

The great temples of our city are there to remind us of our sacred claims. An illustrious sanctuary serves as the focal point on Duke University’s campus. It stands as a cue to all who come that our hope is for a community grounded in universal truths. Truths like love, compassion, peace, mercy and justice. Sprinkled across the city are temples of hope-White Rock Baptist Church, St. Joseph AME Church, Watt Street Baptist Church, Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, Judea Reform, First Presbyterian-they are everywhere reminding us of our purpose and potential.

Durham has stood in faith. We, as a community, have grappled with the burden of unraveling the common thread. This is the significance of Marry Durham. March 19 is our day to celebrate the strength laced in the range of our difference. Ours is a universal movement. We dance salsa, ballet, yakum natima, bhangra, waltz, tango, ballos and jota. We are more than our particular ancestries. We are that pot stewed by the worth of the other ingredients melting in our company.

We are better because of our differences. We strive to honor and respect the magnitude of each contribution. Yes, for better and for worse. Yes, when your position challenges mine. Yes, when I’m incapable of understanding the yoke of your years-I will stand with you Durham. I will wrestle with my own presuppositions until I see the face of God through all of you.

We are Christians. We are Jewish. We are Muslims. We are Buddhist. We are Atheist and Agnostics. We are beached in the lumber of racial and ethnic distinction. But more than the determinants of our ideological and corporeal existence-we are Durham. We are a community that swings like an improvisational groove. Each of us serves a role in the band.

On March 19, 2010, we will marry the city we love so much. Like Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” we will stand as a universal community engaged in the potency of massive particularity. We will act as one band with a sundry of voices playing a new composition crafted by our union.

Come play with us.