For Nashville Councilwoman Nancy VanReece, her passion for public service began with an act of intimidation. It was 1968 — and she was 4 — when someone threw a rock through the window of her family home. It was the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and her father, a dentist, had lowered the flag on their porch to half-staff.
VanReece, who has since become the first openly out lesbian elected to a legislative body in Tennessee, shares the pivotal childhood moment and then listens as Nashville poet Kelley Bell turns her words into poetry:
I was wrapped in the colors of nighttime. Sleeping curled until I heard the crash. A blast then short cascade like beads my mother’s feet down the hall. The ‘go back to sleep.’ Then the murmur of voices like any other bedtime …
Credits: This episode of Versify was edited and mastered by WPLN’s Tony Gonzalez, with additional editing by Emily Siner and Anita Bugg, and Susannah Felts. The show is written, hosted and produced by Joshua Moore, a poet with The Porch.
Today’s story and poem were recorded by Sean Clark at the 2017 Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration. The music is by Josh Woodard, Dr. Turtle, Jahazzar, Yair Yona, all found through the Free Music Archive.