2.10.04

Well. The itinerary said we'd get a day off tomorrow, but today firmly announced itself as the day off instead, starting with the fact that I slept like the dead until 11 am. Then while we were trying to map out the day's schedule, I had a fit of total overwhelm & exhaustion. I didn't even want to hear about any Chinese restaurants, let alone drive all over Jackson looking for them. Forget it!

We went on a driving tour of some of Jackson's civil rights sites. This took us through what was once the heart of a thriving African American community; now it's one of the most depressed neighborhoods I've ever seen. Many of the houses were so totally wrecked I couldn't believe anyone actually lived in them, except that there'd be people sitting on the porch. Ouch.

Then tonight we got to check out an entirely different segment of the city's Black community when we went to see the world's only African American circus, Universoul. The big top was set up in the parking lot of a huge mall, so we bought our tickets & then went into the mall to find some dinner. There were hardly any white people at all in that place; it was about 99% African American with just a sprinkling of other people of color. The circus crowd was about the same. The circus was great! It's not like anything else I've ever seen. There seemed to be a zillion acts, most of which specifically referenced African or African American culture. They were also working the multicultural angle, with a group of Chinese acrobats doing bungee stunts & twirling tricks, & a trio of Latino performers who did a very amazing balancing act. If you're in a town where it's coming, go see it! Why it's not coming to Oakland, we couldn't figure out.

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