What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere.
The way from Arkansas to a family reunion in Indiana took us through Louisville, KY. Being from Hot Springs, Arkansas, home of Oaklawn Park, we had to stop at Churchill Downs.
What should we discover at the home of the Kentucky Derby
but one of Arkansas’s, and America’s, favorite jockeys!
is memorialized there!
Retired from a 32-year career in racing in 2005, Pat Day is more than one of the best jockeys in the history of racing. A born again Christian, Day is also heavily involved in the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
The victim was Solomon Northrup, an African American carpenter and violinist from Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1841. A prime example of human trafficking, this free-born, property owning African American, was transported to Louisiana and sold into slavery. Northrup would spend the next 12 years on plantations.
Northrup was eventually freed to return home to his family and tell his story. In 2014, the film story based on Northrup’s book found box office and critical success winning the Golden Globe for Best drama and Oscars for its producers (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas), actress Lupita Nyong’o, and screenwriter John Ridley proving enslavement is a strong story theme.
The blight of human enslavement and trafficking didn’t disappear in the middle 1800s. It still exists globally today in the form of forced and bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, child soldiers and sex trafficking. Slavery might also be an addiction, a marital, work or organizational situation you feel you cannot leave for any reason, or even ideology if it is harmful, dissatisfying, or would be difficult to abandon. To what have you been enslaved?
Northrup accepted a short-term music job only to emerge from being drugged to find himself chained. How and when were you enslaved? Did it start as a simple trying of something that would become addictive? Was it caused by another? Was it hereditary or simply being born into a family that held a certain world view? Has true Biblical Christianity been mixed with “contemporary culture” to approve or justify something that is inhuman, immoral, or just plain wrong?
Northrup recognized excessive mourning for his children, wife, and life is unproductive. He set about to use his talents – carpentry, creativity, and musicality – for his new master’s use. He learned to hold back information that could cause him harm like the fact he can read and write. He learned to spin the truth for self-preservation. What steps did you take to remain safe? Have you held your tongue, cooperated, used your creativity?
Though it could mean his life, Northrup risked telling his story to a white carpenter hired by his master and found a sympathetic ear. The carpenter got word to Northrup’s family who sent help. Northrup was freed in 1853. What risks – physical, emotional, legal, spiritual – did you take to obtain your freedom? What turned the enslavement tables to give you back your freedom?
Back home Northrup told his story. He became active in the abolitionist movement and lectured on his experience and against slavery. As with some true stories, there wasn’t a clear, fairy tale ending. Legal charges against Northrup’s perpetrators went nowhere. By 1857, Northrup had “disappeared” from the face of the earth. The date and manner of his death and place of burial is unknown. But Northrup’s tale stands more than 150 years later as an affront to human trafficking and enslavement. What will you have to risk to tell your story to help others alive today and in future generations?
In an 2008 Narrative Media online class, my professor assigned the class to individually create a synopsis for an Internet video game. The game was to be based on a synopsis for a movie script about a true World War I story. It was my first hands-on step into the trendy world of transmedia.
Transmedia, the technique of telling a story across multiple platforms/media, has been a buzzword for a while now. Seen primarily in association with commercial fiction, transmedia means stand-alone projects that are connected. While the projects are complete in and of themselves, when they are experienced together the sum will always be greater than the individual parts.
Transmedia was brought to wider attention by Dr. Henry Jenkins in Convergence Culture. As a life narrator considering applying transmedia to a particular story from my life, I turned to Andrea Phillips book and found three beginning criteria: “multiple media, a single unified story or experience, and avoidance of redundancy between media.”
Life story often begins like instant coffee; a one-word prompt is tossed into your brain and boils into a story from your life on the spot. To be transmedia, this story would have to be accompanied by at least one other stand-alone element that could be consumed alone. If we continue with our coffee illuatration that might be millk. Both coffee and milk are complete alone. But they can be a richer experience when consumed together.
Transmedia isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you are considering transmedia, Phillips’ book is worth the investment.