By Joseph Plummer
On the eve of the U.S. national celebration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this Sunday’s UUFSMA service explores the tectonic voice of the nightingale who awakened the soul of the American Civil Rights Movement: Billie Holiday. A gifted singer of blues whose concerts from 1939 onward always ended with the harrowing prosody of “Strange Fruit,” Holiday’s performative affect radiates from the reflections of guest speaker Dr. Anthony Stringer and the music of guest singers Shawna Floyd and ShaRon Glass.
The result is an unforgettable testament to the tragedy of a great artist who dispelled the sweet Magnolia smell of the American South to expose the stink from its culture of extrajudicial torture and murder of Black citizens—for which she suffered the hounding of government, addiction, imprisonment, and loss of career and life. While her signature finale cost her so much, its relentless performance planted the singular song of Jewish schoolteacher, activist, and amateur poet Abel Meerapol in the nation’s consciousness of Jim-Crow injustice, where it still resonates.
Dr. Anthony Y. Stringer is a clinical neuropsychologist and a professor in the Emory University School of Medicine. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching and has been named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the National Academy of Neuropsychology. Dr. Stringer currently serves as a lay minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta (UUCA).
Shawna Floyd is a poet and writer who has also discovered her voice in song. She is a member of UUCA, where her musical talent has flourished alongside her sense of justice, spirituality, and her heart-felt sense of community. ShaRon T. Glass (They/Them) is a life-long lover of music and self-taught acoustic guitarist since age 11. A UUCA member, over the last 40-plus years, Glass learned to play more than a dozen instruments, including tenor saxophone, electric guitar and bass, mandolin, keyboard, and percussion. Join this gifted trio for an outstanding demonstration of the power of music in transforming moral consciousness.
To participate in our online Sunday Service, visit the Fellowship’s website at www.uufsma.org and click on the Zoom Service button displayed on the home page. If requested, enter password: 294513. Sign-in from anywhere Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:25am.
Through grants and awards, UUFSMA donates at least 50 percent of its budget to support nonprofit organizations that provide health, educational, and environmental services for underserved communities in the San Miguel region. Please support this work by clicking on the website home page Donate button. Now more than ever, your support is essential.
Due to the pandemic, UUFSMA has suspended in-person Sunday services and other gatherings. A growing collection of previous online services can be found on the UUFSMA’s YouTube channel. Go to www.youtube.com and enter UUFSMA in the search box. The UU Fellowship welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.