Our contest The Drinking Fountain asked you to compose a response to the plaque forged in fire in Alabama in 1931 that still burns the eyes. I have forward the entries of three finalists to Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Freedman for final judging. The winner–that is, the entry that most conforms to Jonathan’s perception of good writing melded to clear, heroic intent, will be announced on June 16th at the 5th Annual Writers’ and Creatives’ Reunion in Oceanside.
Jonathan has been above the fray, only marginally aware of the dissension this contest has provoked.
I’m amazed at how the three finalists are able to set a scene so quickly, establish expectations for the reader, and then veer to surprising and transformative endings! Their points of view are established through visual cues and fragmentary conversations. Time and space are compressed into realizations. Each piece is different, so I don’t want to generalize.
Let me read the stories again and feel through my reactions before I rank the winners.
I expect he will have as hard a time choosing the winner as I did choosing three finalists. Everyone who entered served a greater purpose: the pursuit of justice and reconciliation. Fault lines and hypocrisies got exposed along the way, but what was also revealed was the sincere desire to heal the soul of our nation. In that endeavor, every single entry was motivated by the finest of our virtues: compassion, humility, and love.
I intend to fill the void on the site until June 16th with thoughts and the writings of others who, like yourselves, are intolerant of what we have inherited, and may even have unintentionally, unknowingly perpetuated. This is an excerpt from Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson:
“There are many drawbacks to being ignorant of and indifferent to history. But one of the worst is a failure to appreciate the depth of U.S. racism and the heroism of the long struggle against it. We are a country in which 1 out of 7 people was owned by another. We had an American version of apartheid within living memory. It was a hard-won lesson that racism is a form of oppression that destroys the soul of the oppressor as well. We honor that lesson, not out of tender sensibilities, but because of long, difficult experience…”