I would sit on the street corners in my hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, and I would play. And, generally, I would start playing gospel songs. People would come by on the street - you live in Time Square, you know how they do it - they would bunch up. And they would always compliment me on gospel tunes, but they would tip me when I played blues.
Men and women in my lifetime have died fighting for the right to vote: people like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered while registering black voters in Mississippi in 1964, and Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965 during the Selma march for voting rights.
Germany has spent the decades since World War II in national penance for Nazi crimes. America spent the decades after the Civil War transforming Confederate crimes into virtues. It is illegal to fly the Nazi flag in Germany. The Confederate flag is enmeshed in the state flag of Mississippi.
I grew up very differently than a lot of other people in my hometown in Mississippi. But I can't imagine my life any other way. I flew home and surprised my best friend at his graduation, and I remember turning to my mom and saying, 'My graduation was so much cooler than this.' I had Melissa Joan Hart give my commencement speech.
Information helps you to see that you're not alone. That there's somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who've all longed and lost, who've all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you're not really any different from everyone else.