Despite all the benefits which modern technology has made possible for humanity to enjoy in the 21st century, many have observed that in some ways on certain days we seem to be taking more steps backward than forward. News reports and film documentaries contrasting volatile social and political conditions in the United States during the 1960s, for example, often point out similarities between the two eras when it comes to racial oppression and gender inequality.
At the same time, various present-day technological triumphs are undeniable. One of the greatest is that of the telephone, which has evolved from a shoe-box-sized two-piece device used solely for voice communication to a single hand-held unit capable of functioning as a camera or miniature computer.
Riding the Bus with Man-Boy and Shaniquananda: And Then Not
The sixth story in Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah, titled "Riding the Bus with Man-Boy and Shaniquananda: And Then Not." It presents readers with a partly-humorous and somewhat serious study of how well we are learning (or not learning) different lessons taught by history when it comes to personal behavior in public places and how technology impacts such behavior. This is the synopsis for it:
"It is not news that technology and innovation continue to impact our personal and public lives in unexpected ways. How that observation plays out proves a matter of some concern when a passenger compares riding the public bus system in Savannah both prior to the opening of a new transportation hub in 2013 and afterwards. In addition, the narrator ponders what it must feel like for a group of elderly African-American women, who decades ago fought for the right to sit at the front of the bus, to listen to Black Millennials Shaniquananda and Man-boy seated further back loudly discussing on cell phones intimate details of their sex lives."
Interestingly, this story was inspired in part by Luther E. Vann's great painting, "Christ Listening to Stereo," featured in the book ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Love. For that painting, Vann sought to capture the essence of a young couple on a bus in New York City. Armed with headphones, they shut out surrounding distractions and appeared immersed in a world of private tranquility, thus the title of the painting. It makes for a strong study in contrasts when set beside "Riding the Bus with Man-Boy and Shaniquananda."
C2019 Harlem Renaissance Centennial
Because original versions of artwork included in the international first edition of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah remained available for sale throughout process of publishing the book, there was some doubt about whether they should be listed in the Table of Contents. They are properly identified at the beginning of corresponding chapters but to further augment readers' experience of the connection between the book and its collectible illustrations, links to the original versions are included below in the enhanced Table of Contents.
When clicking the link to art on Dr. Abigail Jordan it will become apparent that the book illustration is a black and white detail of a much larger original. Moreover, the sole non-original exception to the listed artworks is a cartoon employed at the beginning of the story titled 'Riding the Bus with Man-Boy and Shaniquananda: And Then Not.' The cartoon is borrowed from a now defunct 1949 publication known as Riders Reader.
Enhanced Table of Contents for
The phrase “Immortal City” as used in this chapter is borrowed from the title of the first volume of the four-book Civil War Savannah Series (by historian Barry Sheehy, photographer Cindy Wallace, and historian Vaughnette Goode-Walker) which in 2011 was published in commemoration of the American Civil War sesquicentennial.
Possibly the most important function served by dreams is that during periods of social, political, or personal stagnation, they can provide the catalyst for continued progressive movement forward. It was what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream did for America at a time when the developing practices of democracy were stalled by racism, gender inequality, class prejudice, and other forms of social injustice. It is what the innovative visions of diverse creative thinkers around the world may be doing for humanity right now.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial
“When considering how the practices of slavery, philanthropy, and rebellion could all converge behind the exquisitely-rendered doors of the Telfair Museum, it becomes less difficult to imagine the different implications of it housing works by artists as diverse as France’s Claude Monet (Nov 14, 1840 – Dec 5 1926), America’s Luther E. Vann (Dec 2, 1937-April 6, 2016), and Lebanon’s Kahlil Gibran (Jan 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931)... There is a kind of unrecognized kinship between their painted meditations on the layered realities of human existence and the ever-unfolding wonders of time’s relationship with space, and light’s eternal dance with shadows and hues.” (from Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah)
The above reference to “practices of slavery” (hopefully obviously) should not be taken as allusion to those associated with today’s Telfair Museums of Art. It refers rather to past practices which made possible the foundation upon which the museum was founded. It is nevertheless painfully relevant to our modern times because of the current pandemic of human trafficking. That makes the work and function of the modern Telfair Museums, which often bridges cultural divides and celebrates human diversity, all the more essential.
100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
Gift of Redeemed Integrity
I had spent many years staying as far away as I could avoiding a city that I associated more with fear, grief, and pain than I did with love or joy. It is no secret that we have first to claim the injuries that antagonize us before we can release the suffering caused by them. Claiming my own was further compounded by newer challenges that continued to pile up in real-time. These too had to be endured, rejected, screamed about and cried over, confronted, and then finally claimed before healing growth could take place.
For a century and a half, my city––and my country––had been like me. They had tried––like me––to avoid pain at all conceivable costs. Not only did this prove, in the end, impossible, but neither was it (as one finally realized) at all desirable.
Terror can sometimes surprise us by eventually revealing itself as a gateway to beauty, just as ineluctable destiny can––sometimes––unlock doors to freedom. Very possibly, more than the transformative grace it can bring to your own life is the gift of redeemed integrity it can present to the lives––and deaths––of many others.
I like the phrase 'gift of redeemed integrity' from the previous sentence because for those struggling with adverse circumstances it reaffirms the all-important value of "keeping your eyes on the prize." That kind of focus can be difficult to maintain during chaotic times in tumultuous environments. Daring to believe it was even possible to do so played a major role in constructing for readers over the period of a decade the writings and visual art presented in the pages of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah.
Co-Author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creator of Silk-Featherbrush ArtStyle
About the Author:
A passionate reader, committed writer, artist, photographer, dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, hurricane survivor, maker of poems, believer in the value of compassion, historian, award-winner, journalist, adherent of beauty, and student of wisdom.
100th Anniversary Of The Harlem Renaissance
2019 New Book Releases
2019 Spring Reading
2019 Summer Reading
African American Artists
African American Authors
Art By Aberjhani
Art For Sale
Author Richard Wright
Black Authors Born In Savannah Georgia
Black Authors Born In Savannah-Georgia
Blogs By Aberjhani
Books By Aberjhani
Books By Hans Rosling
Contemporary Southern Literature
Dreams Of The Immortal City Savannah
Encyclopedia Of The Harlem Renaissance
Essays On Art
Essays On Art And Literature
Essays On Literature
Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge
Historic Homes In Savannah Georgia
Indigenous African Americans Of Savannah Georgia
Indigenous African Americans Of Savannah-Georgia
Literature Of Commitment
Martin Luther King Jr.
Moses Trappio III
National History Day
Natives Of Savannah Georgia
Natives Of Savannah-Georgia
New Art By Aberjhani
New Books By Aberjhani
New World Writing
Nobel Laureate Albert Camus
Owens Thomas House Savannah Georgia
Owens-Thomas House Savannah-Georgia
Owens-Thomas House Video
Poet Rene Char
Quotes By Aberjhani
Quotes By Albert Camus
Quotes By Martin Luther King Jr.
Quotes By Rene Char
Quotes By Thomas Merton
Stories Out Of Georgia
Telfair Museum Owens Thomas House
Telfair Museum Owens-Thomas House
Vanda Trappio Patton
Writers Born In Savannah Georgia
Writers Born In Savannah-Georgia