The Right to Marry - June 16, 2014

Freshly Picked Stories

Nafisa Syed

Story-picking is one of my favorite parts of the production process.  Selecting the best stories from among the branches of a transcribed interview is both challenging and wonderful, as many things are. It brings back memories from my first year as an intern, on the Counterculture Project production team. I remember thinking, “How do I pick only a few stories?” 

But that’s part of the beauty of story-picking – you don’t have to narrow the transcript down to a specific number of stories. At least, not yet.  All you have to do for now is fill your basket with as many compelling stories as you can find.  This is no difficult task, since our transcripts are filled with everything from nuggets of wisdom to witty anecdotes.

I’m currently reading the transcript of Mrs. Casey George-Jackson, and just from reading the transcript, I feel like I’ve known her for years.  She talked to us about being in an interracial marriage, since she is white and her husband, James, is black. 

The way in which her older sister helped George-Jackson and her parents come to terms with and respect her relationship with James is particularly striking:

My mom wasn’t ready to talk about it [my relationship with James], because it took her about a year and a half. I have to credit my sister for forcing my dad and James to meet because my sister was getting married. She told James and I and my parents separately, you are all invited to the wedding and whatever issues you need to work out before the wedding, you need to work them out because she didn’t want to have any issues at the wedding or any distractions at the wedding. That’s when my father, after my sister said that, that is when my father decided to meet James. So they met a couple months before the wedding in Chicago, my parents came to visit for a weekend. We just went out to lunch, all of us, and my dad met James for the first time and it was fine. He apologized to me at the end of that weekend and said that he was wrong and he could see why we were together. I have to give my sister credit for forcing the end of all of that tension.

Mrs. George-Jackson’s personal story is remarkable, but also relatable. Stories like hers are at the heart of the Right to Marry Project. We don’t simply want to convey the history– we want to tell the stories of people in our community who lived through the history, and share their insights. Our project encompasses the history of the right to marry, framed in the context and experiences of our community.


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