It was good to see MarthaEllen Anderson’s recent letter to the editor, reminding us of Brother Asaiah. I miss him, as I’m sure all of us who were fortunate to know him do. I miss his letters to the editor and his wisdom and his kindness and his evenhandedness. I’m glad he gave us a park on Pioneer Avenue in honor of wisdom, knowledge, faith and love, tenets he held in high esteem.
It’s been 13 years now since he took his leave of our Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea, and there is concern among some that our memory of him is fading, or even unknown to newer arrivals. In that regard there are those who would like to erect a statue of Brother Asaiah in the WKFL Park. It would serve as a reminder to all of who he was, what he stood for and what he meant to us.
It seems to me, however, that our little park is getting smaller and smaller, especially since the northeast corner is now occupied by a public restroom. If there is to be a statue, perhaps another location could be found for it, such as the museum.
Another less conventional but interesting possibility might be on the old Barefooters’ property at the head of the Bay: Just imagine, coming upon a statue out in the middle of all that tall Fox River grass. Now, I’m not convinced that a statue of himself is something the Brother would necessarily have wanted, but others may feel differently. “Throw me in a paper sack, walk away and don’t look back” is the sentiment I recall.
As far as creating a permanent memorial to honor Brother Asaiah’s life and memory, a different and admittedly less visual option might be an endowed annual lecture devoted to the dissemination and propagation of the principles he held dear. The Brother was a man who believed in peace and communication and the respectful exchange of ideas. A recurring annual event, perhaps on Civil Rights Day/Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or on 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, perhaps sponsored by the college or the museum, might be a more dynamic, a more vital memorial and testimonial to our dear departed friend. The Brother Asaiah Bates WKFL Memorial Lecture Series. I think he might have liked that.
The Public Arts Committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission is meeting on Jan. 9 at 5 p.m. in the city council chambers.