A Dinner Party with Three Famous People from the Present or Past

In one of my communications classes, here at The University of Scranton, I was prompted to think about who I would invite to a dinner party. Not just any dinner party, with three famous people from the present or past. For whatever reason these three people popped in my head, and I wanted to share this with all of you! The options are endless. The first guest I would have would be the mysterious Johnny Cash. He would have to come with his guitar and wear all black, like he was going to a funeral. My next guest would be Misty Copeland, and she would of course have to bring her dance attire so that I could add dancing to Johnny’s music. My third and final guest would be our third president, Thomas Jefferson. These three people each mean something completely different to me. All three of them would add a different flare to my dinner party. Just as a side note, I would be serving pasta and meatballs.

            The “Man in Black” was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist that influenced new styles of music. He mixed blues, rock, soul, and gospel to create a new original sound; added with his low, raspy voice. I was always a big fan of Johnny Cash growing up because of the rhythm to his songs. He was discovered by Sun Records in Memphis while playing in a band called The Tennessee Two. Along with his Sun Record brothers, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny sparked a new cultural identity of people that broke the rules. Writing record breaking songs like “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “Walk the Line,” and “Ring of Fire” put Johnny on the map. Cash’s personal life started to spiral out of control and he was eventually found ina near-death state by a policeman in a small village in Georgia. What brought Johnny out of dark phases of life was his second wife June Carter Cash. She guided him back to music through the love of his Christian faith. The hit that got Johnny back on the maps was “Folsom Prison Blue,” where Cash had a private concert for the jail birds of Folsom Prison. A lot his colleagues tried to persuade him not to do it, but he moved to the beat of his own drum and played for the inmates; because they were people too. People do not think of Johnny as an activist for the rights of the people, but he was. On many occasions he voiced his opinion on the war in Vietnam, prison reforms, and rights for Native Americans. The reason I love Johnny Cash is because he did not take any nonsense from anyone, he went along to the beat of his own drum. He saw people for who they really were, even if they were in jail or were former drug addicts like himself. Johnny Cash gave everyone a chance. Johnny Cash’s voice is so unique and is very calming to listen to.  I would be honored to have a true icon at my dinner table.

            I danced for twelve years and I truly appreciate classical ballet. In my opinion and from my experiences I believe that ballet is more than just an artform. Ballet is a sport and the women who perform ballet are most certainly athletes.  Misty Copeland is a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and brings athleticism to an art form. Misty Copeland once quoted, "A lot of people think of dance as a really sort of frivolous thing, that you just kind of get on the stage and twirl around.” In reality ballet comes with torn ligaments, pulled hamstrings, sprained ankles etc; just like any other sport. Misty Copeland wants young ballerinas to feel proud of what they can do. She instills strength and self-determination into young women. Talk about groundbreaking work, in 2007, after battling numerous injuries to her vertebrae and shins, Misty became one of the few African American dancers to be seen in classical dance. Then in 2015 she was named Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, which is rare to see someone from the realm of dance. She also became the first African American women to get a dual role of Odette and Odile in the ABT’s product of Swan Lake. Misty’s biggest and brightest accomplishment was on June 30, 2015 she became, again, the first African American women to be appointed an ABT principal dancer in the company’s seventy-five-year history. Misty Copeland became a part of the Under Armor “I Will What I Want” video campaign alongside Stephen Curry. The campaign encourages young athletes to persevere no matter what. That campaign struck home with me being an athlete and it gave me the message to never give up on yourself. Something that is so inspiring for young girls is the Barbie of Misty. The Barbie of Misty is a part of Barbie’s “Sheroes Program”, which honors females that break boundaries; just like Misty Copeland. I admire Misty because of her strength and determination for success. She never stopped believing in herself. She is a beautiful warrior amongst all of the people that ever doubted her. 

            Believe it or not, Thomas Jefferson has a very special place in my heart. In third grade, I had the role of Thomas Jefferson in our presidents play. To this day I can still recite my speech for the play.  When I found out I was going to be Thomas Jefferson, I prepared like no other. I researched so much about him that I became obsessed with him. While preparing for my major role, my family and I went to Old City in Philadelphia; and we happened to see the apartment where Thomas Jefferson stayed in while writing the Declaration of Independence. I could not believe that I was standing on the floor where Thomas Jefferson had walked on, it blew my mind. Of course, Thomas Jefferson has his downfalls like he was the president that owned the most slaves (six hundred over the span of his lifetime to be exact), and let’s not forget The Embargo Act of 1807; but he had a brilliant mind. He graduated from The College of William and Mary, and after studying for fifteen hours he would then practice his violin for several hours. Jefferson was a man who appreciated ballet and poetry; which is hard to find in a man today.  He dabbled in architecture and designs and filled Monticello with only the finest pieces of art. Jefferson was fluent in Latin, Greek, and French. He also had such a passion for books. In 1770, his Shadwell home was destroyed by fire, including a library of 200 volumes inherited from his father. Nevertheless, he had replenished his library with 1,250 titles by 1773, and his collection grew to almost 6,500 volumes in 1814. Although Thomas Jefferson excelled in the maths and sciences, he had a liberal arts guided mind; which I appreciate so much. My favorite subjects are the humanities, just like what he excelled in. I would love to sit and drink tea with him on his southern porch at Monticello and ask about The American Revolution, his time in France and what actually happened with Marie Antoinette, his relationship with Sally Fields, and the stories of the findings of The Louisiana Purchase. I really hope Thomas joins my dinner party, because if he does not, I will be heartbroken

This dinner party is something I can only dream of. My guest list is peculiar, but one thing they have in common is music. Johnny can play his guitar and Thomas can play the violin, while Misty dances to the beat. As I take the wonder of this experience in, I will be enjoying a plate of pasta and marveling at what is in front of me. Of course, there will be questions I want to ask, but I am sure that I will be too much in awe the whole time, totally star struck.