I really like my United States Congressman, Andre Carson. I appreciate the diversity his religion brings to Congress.
From my first correspondences with his office several years ago, I noticed a much more specific and in-depth response to each issue than I usually get from legislators. I have especially appreciated the impassioned speeches I’ve heard him deliver at the Kennedy King Memorial, which he supports. He uses those occasions to highlight current injustices and urges us to work to right them. Congressman Carson at Kennedy King Memorial
About three years ago I responded to an email request from his office to walk in a parade wearing a T shirt with his name. Hoping this might be a chance to meet him, I did walk in the parade (St Patrick’s), but work in Washington prevented him from attending.
I attended my first Pride parade with the same intention, several years ago. This time, he attended. He shook hands with and spoke briefly to each of us, then we were began to march. The parade route is a little over a mile long. It was a joy to see how the crowd responded to him, and he to them. He was always rushing over to the crowd to shake hands.
About half way through, I realized I was wearing my Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)’s “War Is Not the Answer” button on my camera strap (I was taking photos that I then shared with his office). I felt a little awkward as to whether that was appropriate, but didn’t take it off. Joe Volk, former Executive Secretary of FCNL, enjoyed the story, which helped make me feel it might be OK.
In 2013, I was in Washington, DC, for the annual meeting of the FCNL, since I was on the General Committee. I was very involved in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance at the time, and wanted to discuss that with the Congressman’s staff, but knew this was not something FCNL could support. I had a good meeting with Nathan Bennett, his Legislative Director. After that was done, he asked if there was anything else. So I made it clear this was not related to FCNL. Then I talked about tar sands and our environment, Keystone, and the national campaign to use nonviolent civil disobedience to try to prevent approval of the pipeline, since part of the purpose is to spread awareness of the dangers. It was immediately apparent Nathan was very well versed about the entire subject. He remained very pleasant and asked very penetrating questions. I was even more impressed. On the way out the Congressman and I exchanged a glance—he was in another meeting.
Today, I wore my Andre Carson for Congress T shirt, but walked with Indiana Moral Mondays, since I am their photographer and they are my people. Fortunately, the Congressman’s contingent was immediately behind us. He walked through our group, shaking everyone’s hands, on the way back to his group. As always, the crowd loved him, and he the crowd. He flashed me a thumbs up one time. But on another occasion he sent me a gift that I didn’t realize until I was editing the photos at home. I was wearing my “War Is Not the Answer” button again. Here you see him flashing me the Peace Sign.
Thank you, Congressman Carson,
Jeff Kisling, Indianapolis
Album of photos from the Pride parade http://1drv.ms/1IRCzBv