Frank’s View (column) : Marking MLK Day and missing Branford’s movie theater

A few days before Regal Branford theater closed New Year's weekend.

A few days before Regal Branford theater closed New Year's weekend.

Susan Braden / Hearst Connecticut Media

In January we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

For those of us who can remember him, a man, small in stature with a large, beautiful voice that resonated not just because of its timber, but his voice resonated through the words that he spoke.

You see, Dr. King was one of those people who managed to create an entire movement, based on the principle of nonviolence, that spread across the land and eventually captured the conscience of America and encouraged us to do the right thing.

He challenged us to let go of the old fears and prejudices and begin to build a new social order based on equality and the belief that we can all learn to live in harmony in this “promised land.”

Of course, these lofty goals and ambitions don’t easily come to fruition, and they don’t happen without all of us agreeing to make a sincere effort to live our lives with some level of fidelity to their real meaning.

So, all these years later, we still have work to do, we still have to acknowledge the unfinished tasks that Dr. King identified for all of us.

The world’s constantly changing demographics challenge us to try to hear his voice in this different world and interpret what his message would be to us right now, in this place.

Would he be reminding of the unfinished work he left behind - to bring all people of color into a social order that will welcome them as equals, and perhaps, to also identify the emerging human issues that continue to challenge us to create a better, safer, kinder and more equal world for all of us to live in harmoniously?

The work of great men and women who advocate for social change is usually never really finished because we tend to slip back from time to time, and because new challenges rise to test our resolve to do right by our neighbors whoever they are and whatever they look like.

The King legacy needs to be respected because of its relevance even now in this changed world of ours.

Here in Branford, on the morning of Jan. 17, a celebration of Dr King’s life will take place, in a virtual Zoom gathering at 8:30 a.m., sponsored by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Heritage Foundation. The speaker will be Chris Wilson author of The Master Plan, and you may register at BreakfastCommittee.

This would be a good time to reflect on how far we have come, and how much further we still need to travel down that road of righteousness.

On a lighter note

The Branford cinema has closed which leaves the shoreline with just one place available in Madison where you can actually go to watch a movie on a large screen and with all of the sound amplifications to boot.

Although I must admit that I have become accustomed to having the choice to watch a first-run movie right in the comfort of my own home, there’s a lot to be said in favor of the theater experience.

First of all, it’s the space and sound that adds to the enjoyment of watching a movie, then it’s the added attractions of the refreshments in the lobby - snacks to buy that you probably wouldn’t have available at home, such as the popcorn with extra butter and the array of candy that is only rivaled by the candy department at the local drugstore, and the drinks which you can buy in bigger and bigger cups.

But mostly, it’s the whole experience of going out to a movie, something that in my earlier life, was considered a real night out. There were date nights at the movie and there were times when you went with a group of friends.

In fact, for many of us, the first “on our own” outing was probably a visit to the movie theater. So losing the local movie theater is more than an inconvenience, it’s more like losing an institution that has been part of our lives.

I can remember walking to the large movie palaces in downtown New Haven when I lived in Wooster Square. That was a major social event, and it gave many of us an opportunity to visit another world of opulence and fantasy.

So my enjoyment of a movie while sitting on my couch, with a freshly popped bag of popcorn, just doesn’t measure up to being in the room where the wide screen spans from wall to wall, and where the sound seems to be coming at you from everywhere.

But mostly, what I miss the is the experience of enjoying what I’m watching with a lot of others who came, as I did, to get away from the reality of life for a couple of hours. We all need that from time to time.

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