Our Tuesday, February 21 program was a truly special moment. Herb Frazier and Steve Bailey shared their insights on the book “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth” and it was obvious that the search was necessary but not necessarily easy. There is a video of the session on YouTube at http://bit.ly/3Is1u1k.
Frazier and Bailey have been friends for decades dating back to when they were young reporters in Columbia. Frazier most recently is the Special Projects Editor of the Charleston City Paper as well as the author of several books.
Bailey is currently an op-ed columnist for the Post & Courier after a career including 30 years at the Boston Globe and a stint with Bloomberg in London.
Frazier gave much credit for Ukweli to his co-editor, the late poet Horace Mungin. Frazier says Mungin originally wanted to call their collection of poems and essays “Black History for White People” but ran into more than a little opposition. They settled on the Swahili word Ukweli…truth. Although Mungin died before the book was published. Frazier said he friend told him to “take care of our baby.”
What makes “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth” so powerful is the range and scope of the work. Poetry, essays and reminiscences from people, Black and White, who lived what they’re writing about.
One of those people is Steve Bailey who grew up in the Lowcountry. He told the Tuesday audience about going, as an 11 year old, to a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Citadel cadets firing on a Union supply ship trying to resupply Fort Sumter. Bailey said the all white crowd of hundreds cheered when the cannon roared. “There was no doubt, one hundred years later, which side we were on.” He also recounted how, after working to help launch a little league-type basketball program in Mt. Pleasant, he walked out of the gym when he realized Black kids were there to sign up. He said he never went back.
Bailey’s essay in the book is entitled “Growing Up Racist in the Jim Crow South.”
It begins…”Call this my confession, if you want. I call it the truth.”
In all, 47 writers and poets share their truth in the book. Herb Frazier says many of them continue to stay in touch and are working on new ways to “keep the conversation going.” He says they’re looking to set up a scholarship for writers in Horace Mungin’s name.
The time of the book’s publication has also seen a rise in efforts to shut down teaching of race relations in our schools. Frazier was asked what he would say to a Moms for Liberty member if she were at our meeting. He didn’t hesitate: “Don’t be afraid of the truth! There’s not much to fear unless you’re afraid of the truth”
For a more extensive biography of Herb Frazier CLICK HERE.
And here are more pictures from the February 21 DIHS program.