In light of racial, cultural divide, Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival builds bridges
Author:

Jennifer Kiely

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In light of racial, cultural divide, Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival builds bridges

courtesy of Masslive.com, photo by Ed Cohen. http://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/08/...

I can't help but reflect on two events that occurred on Aug. 12 that provided a powerful contrast of good and evil that has descended upon our collective consciousness and caused us to pause.

At about 3pm I looked out from the stage of the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival and saw thousands of people of every race, creed and color dancing and rejoicing to live Jazz music. At the same time, I first learned of the shameful violence that was taking place in Charlottesville, Va.


The 2017 Springfield Jazz and Roots festival brought 16 acts across two stages to downtown Springfield on Saturday, August 12.

I looked up at the bright sun that was shining down on this diverse and joyous crowd and couldn't help but wonder if that was the same sun that was shining on the almost all white-male protesters spewing hatred against Jews and Blacks and anyone else who didn't look or act like them in Charlottesville. Perhaps there was a lunar eclipse passing that way or some other unexplained darkness down there. The bright sun over Springfield cast its warm light upon thousands of people from this community and beyond, all of whom were celebrating with intense positivity and love for the music and towards one another, while at the same time a detestable and vulgar display of the worst in America was taking place, seemingly in our shadow.

The Springfield Jazz and Roots festival blurs the boundaries of race and ethnicity because the music unites us as one humanity. Music is a universal language that instills fellowship and love and brings the best out of people. It provides a forum to celebrate our uniqueness and our similarities in peaceful communion with one another; The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival showed us that.

Are we a nation of hateful people that is increasing divided politically, economically and ethnically? The violence in Charlottesville showed us that.

We can only hope that the beautiful light that we shared together in Springfield on Aug. 12 can be a beacon to show us the way, and to shine down onto the darkest corners of the human heart, bright enough so that the angry people that marched with torches and chanted Nazi slogans on that same day may someday see the light. For humanity's sake, I hope so.

I am thankful for the Springfield community and the outpouring and appreciation that we received during and after the Jazz and Roots Festival. I wholeheartedly believe that this is one of the great celebrations that Springfield has to offer.

The beautiful Court Square is in a tiny little corner of the world and on Aug. 12 our community demonstrated in a most powerful way the joyous healing of music and its place in the world to promote peace and harmony.

Evan C. Plotkin, Springfield