9th Circuit Court Andi Cumbo-Floyd Barack Obama Beacon Broadside Beacon Press Belvie Rooks Brown University Bruce Springsteen Center for Justice & Peacebuilding Children's Defense Fund Civil Rights CNN Coming to the Table Dr. Martin Luther King Eastern Mennonite University Facebook Gather at the Table George Orwell Ghana Goodwin Liu Inheriting the Trade James DeWolf Perry Jim Crow Jon Stewart Jr. Melissa Harris-Perry Michelle Alexander Michelle Obama Mike Dooley MSNBC NPR Our Black Ancestry PBS President Obama Sharon Leslie Morgan Sharon Morgan STAR Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience Summer Peacebuilding Institute Susan Hutchison The Daily Show The New Jim Crow Thomas Jefferson Traces of the Trade Trayvon Martin
Most recent posts
Coming to the Table: Now more than ever
Edgar Mitchell returns to the stars
Patricia Iron died at an age too young for all and too old for most
Our Souls at Night
Gratitude for Being a Writer
Dear “White” People, please read Between the World and Me
Most recent comments
Glass Ceilings (7)
TNDeWolf: Thanks for your kind words, Beverly. I'm pretty sure I've learned a...
Beverly A Harper: Your Granddaughter should be so proud of u , u put in context what a...
TNDeWolf: Indeed we do, Donna! I have hope and faith in young people to continue...
Donna Brown: Excellent article,Tom. We still have many miles to go.
Diane: well said Tom! your granddaughter is a lucky girl to have a you as an example of...
Appearances by Tom
Author Stuff, Writing
Coming to the Table
Gather at the Table
Inheriting the Trade
Race, Oppression, Privilege
Traces of the Trade
Trauma and Healing
Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!
Teardrops on the CityPosted June 24th, 2011 by Tom
White man with a guitar leans on black man playing a saxophone. Both are dressed in black and white clothes. White album cover. Everything about the Born to Run album cover is black and white. Very little about Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons was.
They didn’t make an issue over a black man playing in an otherwise all-white band in the early 1970’s when the wounds from Jim Crow and the recent Civil Rights movement were still fresh and raw. When they weren’t welcomed in certain towns or hotels, they just played their music elsewhere. They rocked. They danced. They engaged in soulful kisses. They laughed. They invited us to join them “when Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half.” They chipped away at America’s racism by living its opposite.
From Eric Meola, the man who shot the iconic photo:
Those who know me well understand just how deeply I was impacted this past week by the passing of The Big Man, Clarence Clemons. I believe the last time I wept at the death of a “celebrity” was when Jimmy Stewart left us in 1997. The story of It’s a Wonderful Life (“no one is alone who has friends”) rests at the core of my philosophy of life. The music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band provides the soul; the soundtrack for the life of my family since Lindi and I fell in love dancing to “Crush on You” twenty-six years ago at my old haunt, Pat & Mike’s Cinema & Restaurant.
Our three daughters used to create dances to perform to Bruce’s music (they shimmied and bopped a tremendous Hungry Heart). We drove to Tacoma in 1988 with our four kids and our dog Harley to wait in line for 33 hours outside the Tacoma Dome in a non-stop drizzle to buy tickets — long before internet sales — to see the band during the Tunnel of Love tour. Lindi and I have taken road trips during several tours to see Bruce and the E Streeters multiple times over the course of a week or so. Highlights include several concerts being perched in the very front row; our elbows resting on the stage. Lindi’s hands resting on Bruce’s knees during a guitar solo. Me furiously strumming Bruce’s guitar as he held it out to several of us during a Born to Run solo riff.
We met the Big Man one time at a hotel bar in Calgary. I walked up to him and pointed out Lindi and our friend Angel at a nearby table.
My feelings are strong. The sense of loss is tremendous. Knowing I’ve heard Clarence play his saxophone for the last time is heartbreaking.
I’ve waited a week to write about Clarence’s passing because I couldn’t find the words. I still can’t. So I’ve shared a few moments with you. The best words I’ve found were written by Dave Marsh. I hope you will take the time to read MIGHTY MIGHTY, SPADE AND WHITEY: Clarence and Bruce, Friendship and Race. Marsh helped me unpack the myth and recognize the impact that Bruce and Clarence have had on America.
And I’ve never read more clearly and succinctly where so much of the responsibility lies for undoing racism and privilege in the United States:
These two quotes, of course, are seen here out of context. Read the Marsh article in full. Then play the Born to Run album in full. Then ask yourself once again about your role in righting the wrongs in our world.
Rest in Peace, Big Man.
(thanks to Backstreets for providing so many wonderful links to stories about Clarence, and for all you do for those of us who Ramrod down E Street on our way to the Land of Hope and Dreams)