Welcome to Gate City Revue

“Gate City Revue is writers, musicians, artists, and other citizens gathering their vision. Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, a gateway city from the South to the West, our mission is transforming community challenged by radical change.”

Such is the mission of Gate City Revue. Its launching marks the starting point for an online magazine aimed at transformative and radical change. The editorial stance of Gate City Revue is grounded in its faithfulness to the city’s historic reputation as a gateway to other places and, more importantly, its own historic role in the struggle for civil rights and social justice in the South. The transformation we seek in the face of radical and incessant changes of all kinds often seems remote and utopian in these times of uncertainty and danger. And yet the ever-more rapid advance of digital technology opens up vast possibilities to us daily.

More than ever, much of what we do in Greensboro occurs in relation to other cities in the state and across the nation, or those beyond our borders. Here is the magic of what historians call globalization and the contemporary global experience – people all over the world in movement and thus leveling barriers that have separated them in time and space till now. For our city, it means gateways for all who live, work and play here that are infinite in number. Promising and comforting, indeed.

As for its central task of “transforming community challenged by radical change,” whatever can be said at this point is simply this: The “gathering” will shape the course and define the terms in due time or it will not and dissipate.

This brings to mind another core principle of the magazine. Truth is not an eternal ideal external to us that offers absolution in the end. Truth is simply the path to it. Truth is grounded in the way human beings relate to one another and determine their actions. Truth calls on us to replace moral relativism with moral realism, that is, with an understanding of why things happen that make sense according to objective criteria, science, and to act accordingly. From this comes the possibility of something better than what now exists.

Of course, radical change can also be for the worst. Consider what we have in the moment. Pandemic and the fateful march to fascism as one outcome of the depression.

Why call this magazine a revue and not a review, which is what people immediately type into their browsers? The answer seemed logical and likeable. Gate City Revue is not intended as a literary magazine and the familiar spelling automatically suggests that. Then, too, Wikipedia defines revue as a “type of multi-popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches” that originated in late nineteenth century European society and, specifically, with the French cabaret.

This is the spirit of Gate City Revue. Its whole purpose is to attract people who write, play music, act, teach, prepare food, sell clothing, cure the sick, flip burgers, defend the innocent, or work in an office or on a sanitation truck. It matters not what people do when they gather but that they think and interact as individuals conscious of the need to move in concert but always loosely and joyfully, as in any cabaret. Open and daring, firm yet breezy, bold in its visions but grounded in principles, entertaining yet always seeking to inform – here and beyond.

One person can launch an enterprise but in this case implicit in the gathering is the leap from the singular to the plural, from the one to the many, from a de facto managing editor to a board that reflects the seminal and ongoing mission of the magazine. Even the mission statement reflects Al Brilliant’s wonderful editing of what I had written, which I thought was pretty good. Again, the direction is obvious. The mission will only be realized by those who want to extend and deepen their commitment to it and will crystalize with the appearance of an editorial board, ideally, from the gathering itself.

In the meantime, coming changes to the website will point to the immediate development of the magazine. “This Week in Black and White” remains with occasional guests, such as the one scheduled for next week by Justin Harmon, who teaches leisure and recreational studies at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and a great friend whose name has been mentioned in previous columns. Also planned for the website are, among other things: a weekly news digest with information not generally available in local media: announcements of cultural and political events and happenings; guest op-ed columnists and contributors; the work of musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and poets; athletes; psychologists. You get the picture.  

To think about doing any of this in these troubling times strikes some as oddly out of sync with reality, perhaps even frivolous considering that a pandemic and economic depression unprecedented in scale and consequence threaten us all. Yet here is radical change we must now confront and from our basic struggles exists the plausibility of a different course, one more humane and which rewards the greatest number with the fruits of their own labor, manual and mental. “No struggle, no progress,” as the best of us believe and practice to the best of our abilities and often with great sacrifice.

Greensboro is rich in its people, in its soul, in its blackness and its brownness, in its complexities otherwise masked by those who either cannot or will not accept truth as the path to it. Of this I think we can be certain. What happens now is the challenge of establishing new gateways between us and within us as we seem moving further apart. People need to bury their differences and prejudices and come to the gathering. Transformative steps toward progress in the moment and for the future. This is what Gate City Revue aims to facilitate and stimulate to become a gateway publication for the twenty-first century.

Welcome to Gate City Revue.

“Downtown,” Emmet Williams

Posted in The Week in Black and White.