After watching the reenactment of the Selma to Montgomery march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” came on and I listened to it for the first time. I started thinking about the lyrics in the song, which was also recorded by Sam Cooke. As I listened to the song many thoughts began to dance around in my head. I thought to myself, “This song is outlining the struggle of the black man in America.” The song tells about the plight of the black man in this country and the dilemma facing America and Rome and Floyd County, Georgia.

We know that Dylan stated that he did not write “protest” songs, as he wrote about war, peace and freedom. In his various songs he expressed how he felt as well as what he believed about each of those things, but not in the way of formal protest. In Bob Dylan’s own words, “This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ‘cause I don’t write no protest songs.”

“How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?”

I have noticed that a black man never reaches the level of manhood in this country. At an early age he is called “pickaninny” as he is lumped in with all little black children. When he is old enough to emerge out of the group and develop a personality, he becomes a boy and will remain a boy until he becomes about 70 years old or older. Depending on the mindset of the white person who is making reference to him, he may be referred to his next level a little bit earlier, which is uncle. He will remain an uncle until his death. The black man has had a stony road to travel, and he is still trudging down that road every day trying to reach the day when he is called a man.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Dylan goes on to say that the answer is obvious or evident if only we will listen and be observant about what is going on in this beautiful world in which we live. Man just needs to take a look at what is happening to nature. Mountains are already washing into the seas. Animals are becoming extinct. Several weeks ago I was saddened by the disappearance of a red fox that had become a part of my everyday life for months as I looked out the bedroom window.

“How many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?”

This is the black man’s story. I know not to what in particular Dylan was referring, but the black man is asking, “What does it take to become a free man in this country?” He did most of the plowing and tilling of the land. His labor went into most of the construction that took place here in the home of the brave and the land of the free. Every special group in this country was given the right to stake off land for free except the black man.

In the song he asks the question, “How many times can a man turn his head, Pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

These may be rhetorical questions from Bob Dylan, but for those of us who believe that, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality,” we should take the questions to heart and attempt to answer them.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

The questions set forth in that song must be answered by us all. We cannot continue to not hear and not see what is clearly being revealed to us each day.

{p class=”Body” align=”left”}Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome.

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