The week of Martin Luther King Jr’s Day

pre-note:

I am honored that the “Work Day/Hard Time”  Poetry list can host the Martin Luther King Week/Black History Month Planning as a guest team this week.   Immediately below you will find Professor Roy Finkenbine’s explanation and of this Monday — Wednesday publication.   The Team designed both posts to build on and call attention to the university’s library traveling exhibit based on the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia  (Ferris State University).

To Roy and your fellow Planning Team members  —  thank you for placing this language on the Work Day Post this week.    Look on Wednesday for the companion post, “Jim Crow Signs”.  

Have a blest day.

 

john sj

 

Introduction

The Martin Luther King Week/Black History Month Planning Team is providing guest reflections on January 16 and 18.  Consisting of faculty and staff from relevant areas of the University, including Campus Ministry and Student Life, we plan a variety of thought-provoking events, dialogues, and service opportunities each year related to these commemorations.

Our theme for these reflections is “Signs” and builds on the exhibit “THEM: Images of Separation,” which will be displayed January 17-24 on the first floor of the McNichols Library during library hours.  It is a traveling exhibit from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University (http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/) and includes contemporary and historic images (including actual signs) that demean a variety of groups.  It isn’t meant to offend, but to promote awareness, civil dialogue, reflection, and learning.

 

Monday January 16  – “Signs”

Signs are everywhere.  Some inform and direct us.  Others – both literal and metaphorical signs– divide us.  “THEM: Images of Separation,” an exhibit at the McNichols Library, takes me back to the song “Signs,” which the Five Man Electrical Band, a Canadian group, took to number 3 on the Billboard charts in 1971.

The song came out right about the time my brother showed up for a summer internship with long flowing blonde hair and was immediately sent packing.  The first stanza spoke to us.

What signs divide us today?

Roy E. Finkenbine and the Martin Luther King Week/Black History Month Planning Team

 

Today’s post:  Five Man Electrical Band

And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”
Whoa-oh-oh

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

And the sign said anybody caught trespassin’ would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and-a yelled at the house, “Hey! What gives you the right?”
“To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in”
“If God was here he’d tell you to your face, Man, you’re some kinda sinner”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?
You’ve got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can’t even watch, no you can’t eat
You ain’t supposed to be here
The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside
Ugh!

And the sign said, “Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me. I’m alive and doin’ fine.”
Wooo!

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Sign
Sign, sign

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