Gravitas

Over lunch today, I read one of my favourite columnists at the Globe & Mail and just felt the urge to engage in conversation with all of you out there. (Besides, when there is  first-year essay marking to do, procrastination permeates every cell.) In this Saturday’s edition, Johanna Schneller interviews Morgan Freeman about the just-released documentary Prom Night in Mississippi. Have you heard about this documentary? It sounds amazing, and unbelievable at the same time.

Set in the small town in Mississippi where Freeman lives, Canadian film maker Paul Saltzman and producer Patricia Aquino tell the story of a high school that has two proms: one black and one white. With the help of Freeman, the students work to bridge racial divides by combining the two proms. Even though some stubborn racist parents still organize the white-only prom, most of the students now go to the combined soiree.

In talking about his acting career, Schneller quotes Freeman as saying that “These days it’s all about gravitas, characters with authority and wisdom….” My big red Webster’s says that gravitas means “seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech”. The online version extends the definition to include “substance; weightiness”.

Including this quotation in her article is just one of the reasons I like reading Schneller. I think she sees the metaphor of the man in the story of his ideas.

Two different proms in 2009 (apparently there are several counties in the American south that still support this notion.)? Crazy. Unbelievable. Racism. So sad, this hate we have for one another. You think we’ve come so far and yet such blatant racism  reminds me how much work we have to do.

Over to you now. I have to get back to my marking/grading. What strikes you as gravitas  in your world?

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