President right choice for city keyPublished 12:02am Thursday, September 26, 2013
Andrew Peabody, in his letter to the editor on Sept. 15, questions whether President Obama should be invited to Natchez in 2016 and given a key to the city and whether he even knows this city exists.
I strongly suspect he does.
Natchez created several precedents for our president: Sen. Hiram Revels was the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate and was pastor of Zion A.M.E. Church here in Natchez at that time. President Obama was the fifth African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.
Republican John R. Lynch was the first African-American to give a keynote address at a national convention of a major political party, and he had served as state representative and Speaker of the Mississippi House and a three-term U.S. Congressman while living in Natchez. Obama was the second African-American to give such a keynote address and the first at the Democratic National Convention.
Author Richard Wright of Natchez spent some of his formative years as a writer living on the south side of Chicago and eventually went to Indonesia in 1955 to write his book, “The Color Curtain.” President Obama’s years as a young boy with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia gave him his most significant experience of living in a foreign country, and he later became a community organizer on the south side of Chicago.
These are just three of the reasons that President Obama may be far more familiar with Natchez than we might initially imagine, and good reasons for him to be given a symbolic key to the city should he favor us with a visit in 2016.
Mr. Peabody does have some interesting ideas regarding French participation in our Tri-Centennial. However, it is important to note it was the Chickasaw tribe in the Tupelo vicinity that took in the survivors of the Natchez tribe, not the Choctaw who were allied with the French.
The French even persuaded the Choctaw to join them in attacking the English-allied Chickasaw at Tupelo, because they refused to hand over the few surviving Natchez, but the French failed in that effort.
It should also be noted the first enslaved Africans were brought to Natchez by the French shortly after their arrival. They were initially Bambara people from the Niger River valley in what is now the nation of Mali.
Some of the Bambara allied themselves with the Natchez in their war against the French.
If the French are officially invited, certainly we should invite some representatives of the Bambara from Mali, as well. There are probably already some Bambara who are musicians residing in this country who could render some of their music that many consider related to, if not the forerunner of, the Mississippi blues.
Given the African origins of the Bambara, it seems even more appropriate for our president to be invited to and given a key to this city with its multi-cultural heritage.
David S. Dreyer,
Adams County resident