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Friday November 17th 2017

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Doo Wop And Cannon Falls

by Peter Molenaar

The luckier members of my generation were again able to watch public television’s annual review of the Doo Wop Pop Rock music emergence (late ‘50s—early ‘60s). As always, it was an awesome emotional head swoon. Moreover, let us self-reflect, the splendid performances of so many popular Black artists served to educate and humanize millions of white Americans

Note: I was born August 26, 1950…

How is it that these tunes are lodged in my brain and subject to recall? Probably it is owing to the daily school bus rides into the town of Cannon Falls. The good bus driver had the radio on all those years.

Yet the town remained white, with just a touch of Dakota blood mixed in. Any outside person of color was sure to incite such internal red flags as: Get a grip, be nice but do not touch. It was from elsewhere, moved by the music, that some white folks went South to confront the terror regime there. The news trickled in. We learned that some were killed.

August 15, 2011

“With a scenic river behind him and a Lake Wobegon crowd in front, President Obama couldn’t have chosen a more picturesque setting than Cannon falls, Minnesota, to kick off a three-day Midwestern bus tour.”—StarTribune.

That “scenic river” is the very stretch of the Cannon River which I fished countless times in my youth…the site of so many contemplations and momentary excitements. One can’t help being semi-religious regarding such matters. The president has walked upon the path of my life.

More importantly, Cannon Falls embraced our nation’s first Black president. In one instance, there was a long hug after which the president held hands with and looked into the eyes of a woman whose son is returning from war. Apart from everything else, I was deeply moved by this scene and am damn proud of my home town. OK?

Yet it was not all the scent of roses on a sunny day. Even in Cannon Falls there were Tea Party types on the fringes. Let us be clear: The “Take Back Our Country” slogan is a call for the ascendancy of vile racism. This call must be defeated.

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