GreeneSpace

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Imagine . . .

Yesterday when my book club discussed Blood Done Sign My Name, a powerful history of a racial murder up the road in Oxford, N.C., in 1970, beautifully told by historian-witness Tim Tyson, we were privileged to have the author himself with us. A professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, he's in residence this year at the National Humanities Center. In fact, he's staying in a home just down the street from us.

Even today, stories like this one touch a nerve in cities and towns all across the South. Though few of them will find a chronicler as skilled and compassionate as Tyson, hundreds of such stories are waiting to be told.

On July 4, 2004, the Lexington Herald-Leader issued an apology for failing to cover the civil rights movement in what we would now call real time. Not an oversight or accidental misjudgment at all, it was a deliberately "cautious approach"--so successful that a member of my book club, now a historian in her own right, didn't know what was going on under her nose while she was in college right there in Lexington.

So here's a thought experiment: what if, forty to fifty years ago, twenty-first century computer technology had been available?

"The revolution will not be televised." . . . but what if it had been blogged?