The Drinking Fountain
I found this cast-iron plaque in an antique store in Northern Idaho. How does this small monument make you feel? What does it make you think, or remember? It is history, but it is not in the past, as history should be.
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”
I remember a road trip across America as a 19-year-old with my friend Brian, stopping to see a movie one humid evening in Mississippi. We found our seats in an empty theater, but then heard murmurings and chatter, even a little laughter, from above. Then we realized that “coloreds” were restricted to the balcony, and we privileged California white boys could pick our seats down below. We walked out of that dark theater in impotent, tight-jawed protest. I can’t remember what movie was playing; I can’t forget the shame and outrage.
It all came back when I saw this plaque that had somehow migrated from the Deep South to an innocuous shelf in an antique store.
In under 500 words, tell us a story about your own encounters growing up with racism, either as perpetrator, victim, or passive vessel accumulating poison a drop at a time. Alternatively, write an essay this small, cruel monument compels. Or write a poem of healing or hurting. Or a conversation that takes place in 1931 between a parent and child who enter a diner in Alabama, the child asking what it means. Use you talents to write the best thing you have ever written.
Posting stories will begin when we have accumulated 15 stories, and end when we have accumulated 100, or March 7th( the anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge), whichever comes first. You will be able to help select the finalists, and the final entries will be judged by Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Freedman. We are offering a prize of $500 to our winner for the story that most inspires us. We are waiving the entrance fee to be certain that everyone who wants to participate can do so, but request donations of between $10 and $100 to defray the cost of our prize and promotion. Send your submission as a word doc attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org and Paypal sponsorship money to the same address.
“I can’t run no more
With that modest crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers and vows.
But they’ve summoned,
they’ve summoned up a thunder cloud…
They’re gonna hear from me.”
Let’s hear from you.
Thorn Sully, Editor-in-Chief