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Highlights from Crystal R. Callahan

I had ambitious aspirations of driving through the 9th
Ward and doing millions of other missionary things
while there. Afterall, their infrastructure is still
so eroded. Indoor plumbing systems worse than outhouse
conditions. The fact that their telephone books have
yet to be updated since the storm - and people have to
just call around and ask each other about working
hospital locations. The picture our cabbie showed us
post-storm where he had to spray paint his name and
telephone number on what was left of his house just so
people could know he was still alive and how to reach
him. But, the truth is, Rome wasn't built in a day -
and neither will the healing of New Orleans and the
Gulf South. I learned that it will be gradual and
that any and every little thing I can do to help this
region and the many others we learned about won't
happen overnight. I even considered booking a flight
overseas since I discovered that I'm so drawn to the
international side of the Vag movement! People came
from all over to tell of their trials and triumphs in
their homelands. After a half-day of almost allowing
my zeal to make me crazy, I began to embrace that
instead of trying to do a million things each day, I
would just have to make the most of each moment within
the fleeting 4 days.

And who had any idea that waking up at the crack of
dawn to go to a very spontaneous Saturday morning
march from Congo Square would change my life forever.
So many outrageous moments happened. In sum, I felt
the presence of my ancestors and my descendants as I
plugged into the past, present, and future. All
weekend, Eve and all of the participants from the most
famous to the most incognito – were completely
accessible, in the Activist Lounge and elsewhere.
There was no distance or pretense, we got pictures
with so many because we were all leveled by one common
denominator: wanting to make a difference in the
anti-violence movement. We marched right with Eve and
all of the others who spoke to us from stage (I have
the video footage to prove it) and on that small New
Orleans street first thing in the morning, I felt like
I was marching with Martin Luther King on Washington.
We danced, and cheered, and cried some more with
onlookers, reporters, police escorts, and marching
bands urging us on. I belong in the streets -
activating – I remain open to discovering the crusade
I am destined to lead.

I saw my mountaintop as we made it right to the
Superdome entrance. I caught on tape glimpses of a
woman leading one of the marching bands with a shirt
that read: SURVIVOR on the front and WOMAN OF THE
STORM on the back. She was just one of the 1,200
Katrina women that V10 bussed back home to New Orleans
as a part of this celebration. The budding filmmaker
within kept jockeying for position just to get her
shirt on camera and beat out other reporters for the
best angle. When all of a sudden she stopped and just
broke into this incredible dance tribute to all she
had been through. I swung around to get her in
full-view, she noticed that our camera was going to be
her way to tell her story and boy did she. She
connected to me, to us, to the camera, to the world
and went into this glorious rendition that went on
forever with us screaming and crying and saluting her
every move with: "THIS IS WHAT WE CAME HERE FOR!!!”
Every day I rewind that footage in my head, and I hear
her song playing and I dance like her knowing
everything is going to one day be OK. She later spoke
with Aleia and told her: "I saw y'all with the camera,
I love y'all shirts. Thank you so much for coming
down here, we needed it. We really do feel the love."

Crystal R. Callahan
V10 Superlove Sister
San Diego, CA Delegation

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