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the Pale

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A Whiter Shade of Pale

Gary Norris Gray in

This article was sent to BtP by its author: it appeared online at Gibbs Magazine, the ' Weekly Afrocentric Intellectual Alternative' ,  n 14 December 2006. Intriguingly the same author published another piece, of the same date, entitled NCAA Baseball Championship--2006 Just A Whiter Shade of Pale .

A Whiter Shade of Pale

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kind of seasick
But the crowd called out for more

The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

She said, "There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see"
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be

One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might just as well've been closed

And so it was that later
As the Miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly
Turned A Whiter Shade Of Pale

The author, Gary Norris GrayThis was one of the special rock and roll druggie songs of the summer and fall of 1968. The song like the year is mixed up and confused. This song could mean so many things, yet it could also mean nothing. Each individual person who listens to the lyrics could decide what it meant to them. A Whiter Shade of Pale was a perfect song describing the year 1968, a year of chaos, sex, drugs, rock and roll, death and finally LAW and ORDER. It was the last year that massive numbers of young East Coast teenagers packed their bags and headed for the West Coast and what they thought was freedom.  It was a year when America and Americans turned from love, flower power, war, and racism to the Republican Party and Richard Nixon. President Nixon socked it to America and Americans loved it. It was America’s first modern day critical crossroad with the first critical mass in its young short modern history.
The year 1968 started with a bang in January when the North Vietnamese Communist Army carried out enormous attacks on American and South Vietnamese Military strongholds on the coast of Viet Nam. The attack was a military disaster for the Viet Min (North Vietnamese Volunteers), Viet Cong (South Vietnamese Communist), and North Vietnamese regulars.  American Television presented chaos on the battlefield by South Vietnamese and American Armed Forces.

The announcement of Eugene McCarthy as a peace candidate for the Democratic Party started the great American divide. President Lyndon B Johnson made his famous “I will not run for the office of the presidency” in March. A young United States Attorney General Senator Robert F Kennedy put his hat into the 1968 presidential ring and took the Democratic Party by storm and gain ground on both McCarthy and President Johnson.
The untimely assassinations of the Reverend Doctor Martian [sic] L King Jr in April and the death of Senator Robert F Kennedy in June broke the heart of the many American Racial Liberal. The Death of the liberal Democratic Party in the Windy City of Chicago Ill in Aug with the first televised police riot that fall stunned the soul of America. Lastly the total dismantling of the Black Panther Party military arm by government forces (Richard Nixon) and many northern cities burned. The Panther Party went from number 64 on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list to number three on America’s most wanted list. This portrayed the temperature of the times.  

Just a Whiter Shade of Pale.
It was a time when the African American Church community was the most powerful political component among African Americans. The first Civil Rights Bill of 1964, was enforced all over America. And integration became a reality a true American fete. African Americans openly questioned whether they truly belong to the United States or not, whether they would receive true civil rights or not. As Reverend Doctor Martian [sic] Luther King Jr  in his “I Have A Dream”, speech in Washington (1964) four years earlier stated that he hope that his four children would be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
In the middle of summer the second march on Washington, DC  Occurred as scheduled after the death of Reverend Doctor M L King JR Reverend Ralph Abernathy did the best that he could as he took the reins of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). While Mother Nature did not cooperate with Abernathy’s SCLC and the 2nd March because the meeting place became an endless mud hole when it rained for eight days.
No rhyme or rhythm to this crazy year would continue in the fall of 1968. In November the United States voters pulled the lever for change. The new and reformed Californian Richard M Nixon was elected as President of the United States.  
An end of this turbulent year in December, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) put its first astronaut on the moon. A scientific fete that would put the United States ahead of the Soviet Union in the Space Race fulfilling the late President Kennedy’s wish ten years earlier.
1968 A year of turmoil and of victory, a year many African Americans will not forget.
 Just A Whiter Shade of Pale

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