Saturday, March 31, 2007

Go Tell It...

Once someone told me a story that changed my life (well, in that way that we'd like stories to change our lives). A friend of mine told me about a time when she was very young and her mother took her to see James Baldwin speak. I don't think she knew much about him, but she was nervous to join the long line of people waiting to speak with him afterwards. Her mother took her hand and they waited. When they got to Mr. Baldwin, her mother asked if he had any advice for her daughter, because her daughter wanted to be a writer just like him. "My advice is to just write," he said. "It don't have to be Shakespeare, honey." I'm not sure exactly why that story changed my life, but I'm pretty sure it did.

In that life-changing vein, there's an interesting site called that features hundreds of incredible writers whose speeches have shaped the world and our conception of it. The highlights (besides Baldwin of course) include Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, Ernest Hemingway, Ursula Le Guin, William Faulkner, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many more. Some of them even have audio files where you can listen to the actual speech. Although not all of these folks are popularly recognized as "Writers," there is something inspiring about the fact that all of them were able to craft words (the same words we use!) into messages that change things.


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