I should have known our lives were destined to intersect again. It was right on 9th Avenue, I think, one evening when I happened to be in New York City standing in line for a Broadway show. Up pulled a limousine and out jumped the Rev. Al Sharpton. I recognized him, of course (by his limousine) but I should have known it was a sign.
It was a sign of . . . well, I’m not sure what, but I did recall that incident last Friday as I made my way down to the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 14th Street NW to Freedom Square, checked in at the table, received my ALL ACCESS pass and made my way into the tent with those who had gathered to kick off the march for justice around the Department of Justice building that morning.
In short, though I am not sure why, I received an invitation to start the rally off with a 3-minute speech to the crowd. I certainly cannot describe the surreal feeling of standing shoulder to shoulder with Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, Jr., III, then making my way up to the stage, looking out over all those thousands of people and glancing down at my notes then hearing my voice echo through the massive sound system.
I knew the folks in the crowd were wondering why I was up there.
Nevertheless, after delivering my impassioned three minutes of ardent demands for justice I turned to climb off the stairs, surveying the crowd of really famous people congregating at the bottom of the stage stairs. Breathing deeply with relief I mentally marked off the first 3 of my fifteen minutes of fame and smiled as Al Sharpton approached me. I shook his offered hand and heard him say, “Well, well. That was some speech!”
I smiled what I thought was a conspiratorial smile, which I thought communicated something like: “Well, you know, just another speech about justice to thousands of people, Al.” Flashing before my eyes was a future of marching for justice next to Al (or at the very least comparing notes on hairstyles). We shook hands and all was well, then I heard him say as he turned to leave: “Thanks for being here . . . Emily.”
By the time I could respond Al was already off courting yet another of the many reporters clamoring around him. My “Well, actually, it’s Amy, not Emily . . .” got carried away on the roar of the crowd.
Don’t you know Al disappeared before we could exchange cell numbers?