By: Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
In this column some time ago, I suggested the “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a movie worth the time and ticket; although, I might not go so far as to say a drink and popcorn, which can cost more than a meat-and-three with pie. Well, now I must suggest another.
“Just Mercy” is based on the true story of Walter McMillian, also known as “Johnny D,” who was sentenced to death in Alabama in 1987 upon highly questionable and inconclusive evidence trumped up in a racially biased culture. After years on death row, he was set free by a declaration of mistrial through the courageous and long-suffering efforts of his attorney, Brian Stevenson, the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, a faithful black community, and the testimony of a white man who found his soul. Just like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” this is good for any color person below the Mason-Dixon Line to see. Or any other line for that matter. Something about this movie reminded me of the trial of Stephen Beckham, an Episcopal bishop’s son, some years ago. He is a person not far from here; just like South Carolina is not far from Alabama.
Southern folk often say “bless her heart” about a benighted soul. I don’t know why it is usually a “her” spoken by a “she.” Just is. Just saying. “Bless her heart” means the sister observed has made some poor choices through perceived intellectual or emotional inferiority. The statement has nothing to do with “have a blessed day,” which is playing on the other side of the field from offensive. I bring this up because we poor humans sometimes need to say “bless her heart” about ourselves, female and male, north or south, and any shade of flesh. We have come a long way but still have far to go in so many ways to realize a new and truly blessed day.
Art has a fine way of gently bringing us along without our violently bucking against the goads of change. Pavarotti or Pattie can do it according to who’s listening. Sometimes movies can. Certainly literature, the visual arts, and even architecture can turn “bless her heart” into “have a blessed day.” Theatre, poetry, political speeches, and sermons are art forms that can move the blessing, but they must be very good because they can also be very bad.
I hesitate recommending movies, because it is such a subjective matter like taste in music. I stream through thirty pieces of movies before I find one that I might like. But then again, I’ll start one only marginally interesting and wow! was I glad I did. Bless my heart. “Just Mercy” blessed my heart.