At our impromptu meeting last Friday night at Jim Gonzales’ in Castro Valley, while the rain was beating down upon the formerly parched earth, we were raising our voices in song for justice and solidarity. We sang something that Luci Murphy and I sang again and again during the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival last weekend, Berenice Johnson Reagon’s Ella’s Song (and I refer you to the Ella Baker page where it appears and where you can listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s performance http://ellabakercenter.org/blog/2013/12/ellas-song-we-who-believe-in-freedom-cannot-rest-until-it-comes). We also raised our voices in this particularly vibrant anthem during the MLK march last Saturday, because we need to shout it loud and clear, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until the killing of black men and women is as important as the killing of white men and women. And don’t you just love the last lines? I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard, at times I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word. I tell you, this is very much my song!
At the MLK rally I requested permission to speak on the immigration issue, which is dire and extreme and must be spoken to NOW, constantly, until we recognize our duty to ALL people who must flee their countries particularly because of our “free trade” policies. Free trade, I remind the Koch brothers and their allies, require equality of bargaining power. Contracts law 101.
So President Obama can and must issue, in these last days of his presidency, an executive order granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the newest wave of refugees to our shores. And we must kick out the new felonious five in the Supreme Court, who have been bought by big money.
I ended my bilingual appeal by declaring that we are not coming to beg for our rights, we are coming to claim them. We are brothers and sisters, we are ALL immigrants, and we come to these shores after we have encountered scorched earth policies at the hands of our oligarchs in the US, who live by and for the rules of profits above all. These are NOT the founding principles of this land, this land is your land and my land, from California to the New York islands, and it is time we take it back. America is not a country, it is magnificent continents north and south of California, and it is time we recognize that. And Nelson Mandela long ago during his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize talked about the countless human beings, who had stood in the path of tyranny and injustice, without seeking selfish gain. “They recognised that an injury to one is an injury to all and therefore acted together in defence of justice and a common human decency.”
In this regard, we are supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, the man of the people, who is standing up to the oligarchs, to the corporate behemoths that are scourging our country and our planet, to the use of money to pollute the very foundations of our planet, physical and intellectual. The young people are excited by Bernie; we who are aging are excited by Bernie, he represents the best of the United States of America, and he is calling for us to fight back.
Lyrics to Ella’s Song
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons
And that which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me
To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can shed some light as they carry us through the gale
The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hand of the young who dare to run against the storm
Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny
Struggling myself don’t mean a whole lot I come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survive
I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word