Interstellar is spectacular and a movie made for a future we don't presently have, but will get the chance to secure.
|A monument to the pioneering celebrated in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar|
From children being taught (in the movies fictional future) the Apollo 11 moon landing was a hoax to the book shelf notably displaying A. Scott Berg's Lindbergh biography, Interstellar is a movie made for those who have an atavistic reaction to Matthew McConaughey's monologue on the importance of the pioneering spirit:
“We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers.”It's fitting to remember to recall what the black population was doing when white America was looking to the sky in anticipation of the Apollo 11 mission on July 16: Ralph Abernathy Jr., the heir to the civil rights throne of Martin Luther King, was leading the Poor People's Campaign on a mule and buggy march across America.
As the Saturn V rocket prepared to launch into the sky, a rabble of blacks approached the space vehicle on a horse and cart to protest inequality and - in their eyes - a misappropriation of resources that could (and should) go to help the black underclass.
Easily, this is one of the most pathetic moments in the recorded history of humanity.
Prior to seeing Interstellar, a trailer for Selma played (yet another entry into the civil rights porn catalouge of making contemporary whites feel guilty for the actions of their ancestors; in the process creating animosity against every white who every existed among contemporary blacks).
The film will canonize the protest by blacks to be able to participate in a civilization they had no hand in creating, but - once unleashed via weaponized equality - whose hand was entirely responsible for the degradation of the civilizations white built. (see 2014 Birmingham, Selma, Detroit, Memphis, Camden, East St. Louis).
Which brings us to yet another Great Moment in Black History.
Just as the scene of a horse and buggy full of black people, juxtaposed with a massive rocket ship (Apollo 11) clearly served as a metaphor for the vast racial differences in intelligence, morality, and collective will power on July 16, 1969, the story of black people protesting the erection of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is one worth remembering.
The Gateway Arch was built to commemorate westward expansion, Manifest Destiny and the (indomitable) pioneering spirit of the white men who tamed this country, building a mighty nation out of the wilderness of the territory acquired by Thomas Jefferson in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
It's a stunning monument, and an incredible feat of engineering brilliance. Charles Guggenhiem directed the brilliant Monument to the Dream (no, not Martin Luther King's...), which was a documentary telling the story of the building of the Gateway Arch. Nominated for an Academy Award in 1967, Guggenhiem's documentary unabashedly tells the story of a people still on a collision with space exploration and the successful landing on the moon.
The documentary is now known as the Building the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
But it was in 1964 black people would prove, once again, they must always be the center of attention. [50 years after Arch-climbing protest, 'We still have work to do' on minority hiring, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7-14-14]
Though the Gateway Arch was designed by white men, with white engineers and architects trusted with completing the project, the lack of black participation was noticeable to those nascent members of Organized Blackness. In Jim Merkel's The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats who Built the Gateway Arch, we are treated to a story of black defiance directly in the tradition of the mule and buggy march on the Apollo 11 launch site.
In a chapter titled 'Climbing to Equality', we learn:
Shortly after noon on July 14, 1964, workers at the Arch grounds were opening their lunchboxes and preparing to eat bologna sandwiches, coffee, and maybe soup from a thermos. None of them was aware that the full force of the civil rights protests of the 1960s was about to break into what heretofore was the uncontroversial construction of the Gateway Arch.
But civil rights activists had already turned attention toward what they saw as a lack of hiring of African-Americans during the monument’s construction. It was only a matter of time before a highly publicized protest would occur there. By 1964, St. Louis was awash in protests. In August 1963, hundreds demonstrated against what they saw as racial discrimination at a local bank, the Jefferson Bank & Trust.
African-Americans could only expect to work menial jobs, such as janitors. Many activists who were involved with those protests turned their attention toward the hiring of African-Americans at the Arch. Percy Green II, a leader of the Jefferson Bank protests, said activists thought there should be more hiring of blacks, since it was a federally funded project: “We didn’t know why there weren’t any black contractors as well as black employees.”
MacDonald Construction Co., the prime contractor for the project, indicated it hadn’t found any qualified workers. The activists then started setting deadlines and making plans to do something big. Early in July, Green and a white protestor, Richard Daly, conducted what Green called a “reconnaissance” of the Arch grounds to determine whether they could execute their plan.
Then on July 14, they called a demonstration and a news conference for the east side of the Old Courthouse, within sight of the Arch. While reporters listened to Robert Curtis, an attorney and spokesman for the protestors, Green and Daly walked onto the Arch grounds, wearing work clothes.
As workers ate their lunches, Green and Daly scurried to ladders on the north leg and started climbing. When they reached 125 feet, they signaled people holding binoculars at the site of the news conference to indicate they’d climbed partway up one leg. Curtis then announced that two protests had climbed the north leg of the Arch. Quickly, the reporters left the news conference and dashed toward the north leg.
“We felt that that would be the only thing that would draw attention to the amount of racism (at the Arch) and how federal funds were being used to perpetuate it,” said Green, who was 29 and the chairman of the employment committee for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a local civil rights group.
By that time, the Arch was about 300 feet tall, but Green and Daly didn’t want to higher. If they came close to the workers and there was an accident, they might be held responsible. From an elevator close by, police tried to talk them down. But they said they were staying until blacks started working at the Arch. The two were surrounded in kind of a cage, but there was reason to fear, and they acted cautiously. But they did plan to come down earlier.
Green had to get work at midnight. He figured that if he came down six hours after he made his climb he’d have time to make bail, go home, wash up, and get to work on time. They climbed down, were arrested, and went limp before the waiting police officers. They made bail, and Green got to work on time that night.
That night and the next morning, the papers, radio stations, and TV stations were full of stories about the protest. The National Park Service reacted by pushing for contractors to hire blacks and more black subcontractors.
More black workers did come on the job, to an extent, and three black-owned subcontractors were hired. “I’m satisfied that a token effort was made,” Green said.
“There certainly was not sufficient number of blacks hired,” But, he said, “Had it not been for our action, what little was done never would have occurred.” Green went on to be arrested more than one hundred times for civil disobedience. He’s been interviewed numerous times about what he did at the Arch. The protest and outcome still affect Green’s viewpoint about the monument.
“This is a hell of a monument, but the question is, I wonder how many black people helped build it.” He also thinks about those who lost their property when the lands were cleared for the Arch. They pyramids might be a great piece of architecture, but there was a great cost, Green believes.
“The only thing you say about those monuments is they put those cities on the map, but at what cost?” he said. “I think in terms of, you know, there are mucho injustices.” (p.127 - 129)"Mucho injustices..."
Nature is unjust, no matter the attempts by man to scuttle this immutable fact.
While our destiny is the stars, our immediate future is nothing more than the albatross of places like Selma, Ferguson, and the pathetic sight - memory - of the Poor People's Campaign of black people on a mule and cart demanding equality, justice, and the continuous penance by white people for their ancestors (supposed) sins and transgressions.
But there's a monument in St. Louis, not far from Ferguson, standing as a testament to the courage, fearlessness, and pioneering spirit of a people who tamed the North American continent and sent men to the moon with the slide rule.
The Spirit of St. Louis wasn't just the name of Charles Lindbergh's plane; it resides in all who watched Interstellar and realized the movie represents a revolt against the unnatural state of the modern world.