Carroll O’Connor was Ireland to me. His love of language, literature and performance seemed to have been “fertilized” in the history and culture of Ireland. He was progressive, comfortable with diversity, pushing himself to be a part of the future rather than the past. He was a pioneer in so many ways. Do not be deceived by what I’m saying! Mr. O’Connor was older and still had bits and pieces of the past in his DNA. But what I admired so much was his profound and muscular embrace of the now and our tomorrows. His intelligence was formidable- he read, he wrote, he guided “In The Heat of the Night” – he created a character, Archie Bunker, who seems more appropriate for today (based on this election!) than he was for the 1970’s!

I loved hearing him speak “Irish” – in his melodic accent. I think he found commonality with black folks – he was well-educated and from New York, but there were similarities of culture – music, singing, reading poetry aloud, street idioms, histories of oppression and extreme poverty, fist in your face bad-ass responses to lives in constant jeopardy. Ireland survived the troubles. I’m hoping we survive ours.

In reading responses to this election, in my struggle to come to terms with it, the reasons for it, the road ahead, I found this YouTube video from Ireland. It is the most powerful statement I’ve heard about this moment in history. I felt calmer after listening to it a few times. It hurts but it’s honest. No political correctness here. No vulgarity either. Imagine telling truth to power with only the truth.. no fluff, no sucking up, no regrets, nothing embarrassing.


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