Down the River ~ 7

The quote on the left demarcates the point in Huck Finn’s river journey with his friend, the slave Jim, where Huck is just beginning to see their way clear of the slave states. Here you can also see the repeating waves, printed on glass-cling, wrapping its way from the top to the bottom of the gallery’s staircase.

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“We judged that three nights more would fetch us to Cairo, at the bottom of Illinois, where the Ohio River comes in, and that was what we was after . . . “

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” . . . We would sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the Ohio amongst the free States, and then be out of trouble.”

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As a gold medal winning Olympic champion, Muhammad Ali returned from Europe to Louisville Kentucky in 1960 to find Jim Crow alive and well. In one of his new jobs, Ali had to enter through the back door. No one knows if the story is folk-lore or fact, about Ali throwing his gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a drugstore counter and run out of the shop by a gang of white motorcyclists.

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Coming to the end of the journey, you would have heard Ali’s voice, as I did many times as a child. He was a hero of my father’s– for his stand and integrity in objecting to serve in the Vietnam War.

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