Thursday, December 17, 2009
Last night, Todd and I were at the holiday social at Hal & Mal's, and I couldn't stop talking about two things (a) the Saints we're going to see in NOLA this weekend and (b) the fact that I believe that today 12/17 we could call it is our city's tipping point with the psychological victory that is the re-opening of the King Edward Hotel. The symbol of our demise has become the proof of what a determined community can do when it comes together. David Watkins, Mayor Johnson, HRI, Deuce McAllister, Leland Speed, Ben Allen were the big players, but the King Ed is really proof of what Jackson is becoming.
We're planning to land in the King Ed bar today after work with lots of others (you, too?), but I couldn't wait. I told Todd last night we should go over and have a nightcap. So we did. We drove the few blocks over, parked on the street out front and walked into the glorious, holiday-bedecked lobby. I couldn't help but blink back tears. This hotel closed due to the hatefulness of old; it is re-opening due to the lessons we've learned and the coalitions many of us have built.
We turned left into the bar, which looked like many hotel bars on a weeknight with a sprinkling of people in business suits. One woman worked on her laptop at the bar. We sat on the other side of her and ordered two drinks from the bright, efficient bartender (don't know her name, yet; will tonight) and just looked around at the parking lot outside, the boarded-up buildings waiting their turn across the street, the train depots and aquaducts to the left, the full bottles lines up behind the bar. We watched proud-looking employees of various races try to figure out how to get through the side door, and joke with each other. As the bartender told us about the local bars she had cut her teeth in, she kept wiping a gleaming bar that didn't seem to need it. The whole thing felt very romantic as we sat and talked about the hotel and the change we've seen in Jackson.
The King Edward signals a new chapter in Jackson and Mississippi's history. We don't have to listen to the naysayers and negative media outlets addicted to sensationalism. We can build dreams despite crimedreams that employ people and help us solve crime. Jackson has never had a glorious past to return to: The old King Edward sat in a racially segregated city near the intersection of the black Farish Street and the white Capitol Street. We have said since the day we started the Jackson Free Press, and started cheerleading the re-opening of the King Ed, that Jackson's glorious future is ahead of us, and we all just have to build it.
We're building it, Jackson. The glory days are coming.
Join us today at 6:30 p.m. at that bar to toast the future. Cheers, Jackson.
Well said, Donna. I joined a friend there today for lunch. The restaurant was hopping. My friend said the gumbo was the best she'd ever eaten and my shrimp po boy was DELICIOUS! You'd have thought the French bread had just popped out of a N.O. oven. The hotel is beautiful and a beautiful tribute to Jacksonians and area residents who intend to live in a thriving city. Peace and Love and Joy to you, Donna, and to all this season at JFP.