This great inner wanting yearned for a freedom we don't much talk about these days, in our relative affluence and comfort, but the music and the movement of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with its roots in Africa, in Gospel revival -- in growing up black in America -- went so much deeper than that.
When a founder retires, the transition can be especially challenging. The organization was created specifically to support the vision of the founder. How does it support the new leader, and provide necessary visibility for a new vision, while recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the founder?
The Obamas won the White House in part because of their ability to move with that studied grace and confidence through the rutted, booby-trapped landscape of race in America. In that sense, Ailey and others literally helped lay the groundwork, by showing the beauty (and not just the fear and discord) of our distinct but intertwined roots as a polyglot nation.