Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial origins

Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Walter P. Lane Camp fire canon salutes during Memorial Day services at the Golden Triangle Veterans Memorial Park in Port Arthur on Monday, May 30, 2005. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was established as the date for the nation to place flowers upon the graves of the Civil War's dead. Fallen combatants from both the Union and Confederate sides were honored on this date.

I honestly felt uncomfortable running this image. Race relations in Southeast Texas are not as good as I'd hope they should be. However, this was the most visual image of the day. Likewise, it harkens to the origin of Memorial Day.

In most cities, this image would be seen as men playing historical dress-up and making big booms. Here, it looks less innocent. I'm still trying to figure out why things are this way here.

Dallas' stratification is largely disbursed along the lines of income rather than reflectivity. It's also a city which isn't tied too strongly to history. If a building is in the way, it's torn down. If a racial barrier is in the way, it's torn down as well.

My other blog has indicated one key factor: we can't cover what we don't know about. Since I'm new here, I'm not sure if I'm missing information or if there simply aren't cross-cultural activities (aside from the obvious Cinco de Mayo and MLK Day). I hope to learn the answer soon.

If the Army taught me nothing else, I learned that everyone is green. We might be dark or light green, but we all bleed the same color red and have the same color tears.
Photos Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise
Music composed by Mark M. Hancock /

Please see this slideshow video of Memorial Weekend events in Southeast Texas during 2005.

Enough for now,


CarmenSisson said...

I always feel uncomfortable covering these re-enactments here in Alabama as well. Sometimes it seems like we have come so far, and sometimes it seems as if nothing has changed. Newsroom managers can send people to diversity training all they want, but people have to be willing to change on the inside.

I remember walking out of an early staff meeting at the weekly newspaper where I was editor. I was being chewed up one side and down the other for running a photograph on the front page of a greeter at the local Walmart....he was a decorated war hero, immensely popular in the community, and an inspiration to his fellow employees. He was also black.

[NOTE: In keeping with Mark's recent pop quiz...the 2000 edition of the AP Stylebook lists "black" as the appropriate terminology, not "African-American" unless its part of the name of an organization or if your subject refers to himself or herself using that terminology.]

Anyway, I was told that it was a waste of valuable space to run this man's photograph because black people did not read newspapers unless it was to look at the police blotter. I was outraged and spat that I did not believe that was true, but if it WAS, then it was probably because they never saw themselves reflected in its pages in any kind of POSITIVE light. And I stormed out of the meeting.

I continued to try to bring diversity to our pages, and I am proud to say that eventually our publishers saw that what I was saying was true. Our circulation jumped and we gained a new circle of intensely loyal readers, even managing to scoop the local daily on a few stories because we were seen as a trusted source and a community advocate.

When the higher echelons of the journalism world finally begin to see diversity and multi-culturalism as more than a one-day seminar and a sound bite on the evening news, then maybe the newspapers' pages will truly be "black and white and read/red all over."

Mark M. Hancock said...

Thanks for your views on this subject Carmen.
It's very true that a loyal reader is a loyal reader because the newspaper reflects the community fairly.
The newspaper should highlight the smartest, fastest, and most talented people. Skin color doesn't matter and honestly shouldn't be an issue.

Jaime Tomás Aguilar said...

I agree with miss Carmen and no matter who "reads" our newspapers we all know that we serve all citizens. You both have the great opportunity to see variety. I think that is awesome.
I like the challenge you all have in your region and the deeps roots that you have to choose from and learn about. I am learning some more here, but I really miss New Orleans–-culture capital of the world.
My "lady friend" here in Denver told me the other night: "you know what I need? A culture shock." I told this sweet Native Coloradin' (Texas Stylebook) that we are going South.
Happy humidity to you.

Mark M. Hancock said...

I'd imagine Alabama or New Orleans have more "shock" factor than Beaumont. It's a nice town with good folks, it just seems to carry some unnecessary baggage. I’ll post a prime example sometime around June 7th.

Mark M. Hancock said...

Originally posted June 1, 2005.