Lee & Jackson Monument at Wyman Park Drive & Art Museum Drive

Lee & Jackson Monument at Wyman Park Drive & Art Museum DriveThursday’s ride took me up the hill to place a large order at Popeye’s and then down the hill, over, and up again to Druid Hill Park to do a bunch of laps as I try to get used to clipping in again. I got out of the habit, and now I’m scared of it. I used to clip in every day, even just for a quick two mile ride to Tulane. I taught in my bike shoes and hopped back on the bike to ride around town afterward. They were normal–now they’re not. I’d like to make them normal again, at least in time to pull myself up and over and through the Adirondacks at the end of July. That’s what was on my mind as I did my laps, getting more and more and then less and then more comfortable with my spds. Also on my mind were the tennis courts in the park where, in 1948, tennis players, Black and white, staged one of the first public protests against racial segregation. These courts drew the likes of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, who had to play on separate courts. And I thought about the pool where everybody swims now, the old segregated pool filled in with dirt and grass as a memorial to ye olde times of racial segregation. There’s the sign that reminds us that the park was used as a place to muster Civil War and signs pointing the way to Safety City, where kids can learn how to be safe pedestrians, though I’m not sure there’s training there to avoid the violence that can accompany Walking While Black. I did four laps, thinking about the layers of history of racism embedded in this park, and the marks of the mighty struggles mounted to overcome some of the most literal forms of it. And then I rode home, stopping to take this picture of a monument to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee that sits at this intersection. I pass this monument all time time, and sometimes I notice it and how fucked up it is that we have this monument to the Confederacy, and how for me, that is akin to having a monument to slavery, and how other times I don’t even see it. I wondered what it means that in many this history fades into the background, and what difference it makes to see it, to talk about it, to make visible again and again and again, that the common sense of these places where we live has not even gotten to the point where we can collectively say that slavery is truly a national shame. We still honor it in our everyday. And then I stopped for a grilled cheese sandwich, went home, and read about these latest of lives lost. What sadness.

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