[In May and June of 2020, a time of pandemic isolation, economic collapse, and intense partisan rivalry, videos of Minneapolis cops lynching George Floyd — a Black man with his hands cuffed behind his back — sparked nationwide mass protests against widespread police brutality and systemic racism in America.]
Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, 6/8/20
When I am at a loss for words....I allow the Spoken Word poet within me to speak... in the midst of...because of...in spite of...where we are now in America:
Black Lives Matter....because Black lives have always mattered!
I stand against police brutality.
I stand for economic equity.
I stand with those who never tire in their crusade against poverty.
I stand in solidarity with those who fought for justice yesterday and with those who continue to fight for justice today.
I am many in my one..... as we march and kneel and speak out.
May we root out the evil in our nation with our vote, our voices, and our feet.
I got my hands on the Freedom Plow .... then and Now! "Now is the time. America is the place."
Phillip McKenna, 6/8/20
It is an agonizing period. Uplifting to see so many people spontaneously rising up for a prolonged period. Disheartening to see the violence and looting. However, the non-violent lessons of Dr. King have been broadly absorbed across the generations since his death and they are finding new ground to grow on.
I was finishing a book as the protests erupted on the moral, political, and strategic paths of MLK and Malcom X before their assignations; The Sword and Shield", Joseph Peniel. It is a good discussion of the times and the leaders that led me to take your book off the shelf. Which led me to reread King's "The Other America."
I feel we may be making real progress. Democracy is at a crossroad, but new leadership may benefit from the growing groundswell of discontent.
Miriam Cohen Glickman, 6/8/20
I worked with SNCC In Albany, Georgia, Washington D.C. and Mississippi From the summer of 1963 to February 1965.
I was impressed with the peaceful demonstrations these past couple of weeks. There were only a couple of things that I, A civil rights veteran from the 60s, would have liked to share with the march organizers. I would have encouraged the organizers to be aware of agent provocateurs and spies and to the extent possible to try to quell any violence.
Also I would have encouraged them to include singing - lots of singing. I did hear that "We Shall Overcome" was sung in Minneapolis. Our struggle had such a rich collection of songs that we sang with such gusto and that inspired and comforted us.
Lisa Keen, 6/8/20
One man's hands can't tear a prison down
But if two and two and two and fifty make a millions, we'll see that day come round.
I am hoping that the time has come when enough people will rise up from apathy and despair to bring down this system of racial injustice, poverty, incarceration, wars, and hatred and elect leaders who will help us build a better world. In the meantime I will keep fighting.
Bruce Smith, 6/8/20
Although the struggle for freedom from racism continues, let me add that at this time, we are way ahead of where we were in the 2950s or 60s. I'm still in Virginia where I started long ago.
The Difference is that this year... both of our daughters have been in action the past few weeks. My spouse and I were asked to do "grand parenting" the other day so that daughter and her regular baby sitter could attend the march in DC. (We live about 25 miles south of DC). Our niece, a lawyer in St. Paul, joined the march there. Our oder daughter got into things with her inlaws in eastern NC. She is also a lawyer. Several relatives and friends were in the action at UVA a while back, but one of them, currently a professor at a norther university, was working as a medic with an armed Jewish organization that provided security for folks there. Pres.Trump now accuses them of being "violent extremists" in Charlottesville. Also in that action, was a young reporter who covered the Nazi there in a way that scared many of us... So I am happy to report that several if not most of our family is doing well and in the fight for human rights in the United States.
Janet Braun Reinitz, 6/8/20
Just Five Words
RACISM IS THE ULTIMATE VIRUS
Jules P. Kirsch, 6/8/20
If there is a significant difference between the George Floyd protests and those of the 60s civil rights movement (together with those of the 60s-70s anti-Vietnam war movement), it is generational. The population of the United States is more diversified today, and the older generation(s) have been succeeded by a new generation that I believe is entirely comfortable with the fact that the tapestry of black and brown and Asian Americans is a distinctly American phenomenon that they are proud of. This pride is evidenced by the large numbers of white protestors across the country, who seem to be relatively young. The old guard will try to label the protestors as African- American and therefore can be ignored with electoral impunity. I believe that the coming election will reflect the changed demographics of the country.
Spes Dolphin (Linda Seese), 6/9/20
wow — lots of feelings. seems like such a long struggle. it does seem a good sign that many races are being involved and it is so so wide-spread. for me at 78 in a pandemic in a state with a very large native american poplulation, which is being very adversely affected by the pandemic, im trying to help get supplies to the navajo nation, as are alot of people around the land of enchantment.The following letter was sent to various newspapers in Vermont.
i really really really hope this is a tipping point, but i did think we would have a revolution after missiissipi with all the resistence to war in vietnam, women's movement and gay movement.
after i leave sunflower co. june 65 some of us met to think about organizing in poor white communities int he south. for me, i couldn't think to stand their racism and we never did anything with it. how to meet people who supprt orange man and even in the rust belt where i grew up.????
i'm so happy to hear the leaders of blm referencing fannie lou and ella beside the more famous men.
To the editor:
A questioner near the end of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott's press conference Wednesday (June 10) wanted to know whether the governor supported white people's right to speak who were reportedly not allowed to speak at a protest over the weekend in Montpelier? The event was one of many held in Vermont to protest police violence against black people and racism.
Why was the question asked? Might not people rallying to raise awareness about domestic violence turn away a speaker who supported domestic assault? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that? Might not people rallying for "right to life" decline to have a speaker who supports a woman's right to choose? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that? Might not Second Amendment advocates turn away a speaker who wanted to abolish the amendment? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that?
Was the question an insinuation that white folks are being discriminated against when they are asked to listen to Black people who have been on the receiving end of discrimination? Was the question raising doubt that Black people can speak for themselves?
The question smacked of someone trying to make a case that white lives, as opposed to black lives, matter. The question smacks of white privilege.
White folks need to learn to listen.
Mario Marcel Salas, 6/17/20
Criminal Police Contract is Covering Up Their Crimes
In San Antonio, Mike Helle, the head culprit of the corrupt SAPOA contract, announced he is retiring after years of getting rotten criminal police officers rehired, helping to make San Antonio number one in the United States for getting abusive and racist police officers rehired. This association is a danger to decent police officers and more importantly to the citizens of San Antonio.
Black and Hispanic officers are being referred to with racial slurs and this association, through its aggressive protection of corrupt police officers, has contributed to over 123 deaths of people that have died while in SAPD police custody over a 10 year period, most of who were people of color. Mr. HELL is reported to be resigning. However, we need to be watchful that they don't try a fast one by trying to appease people with a person of color taking his place and still doing the same rotten things. Instead of holding our hands at rallies, we need to know that that an officer did not let a fellow officer get away with beating someone up.
This corrupt and criminal set up, called a contract, hides the past records of abusive and racist police officers and there are claims that racist cells of police officers exist in the SAPD. According to their contract they can make a complaint go away by inserting a 180 day limit on the time a complaint can be brought forward. . They can hide past abusive behavior by refusing to allow records of past abuse, after a short period of time, to be used in a current violation of conduct. They can walk away from changes that could be proposed by city officials by invoking the "Evergreen Clause," which allows the current contract to remain in force for 8 years, thus being allowed to refuse honest negotiations to change the brutal criminal contract that they have now. We need a real civilian review board that can fire abusive officers and send serious complaints straight to the District Attorney for prosecution. Tear gas and injurious projectiles against peaceful protesters must be banned as well as choke holds and knees to suffocate.
The Police Chief is mostly powerless because as soon as he fires an abusive officer they can have that officer rehired through arbitration. This is the most corrupt mafia-styled contract in the United States. Additionally, this contract is nothing less than a criminal enterprise which allows them to buy off city council members with campaign contributions. This association leadership should be investigated by the FBI for using a criminal contract to control the disciplinary process. This so-called union needs to be dismantled and re-organized so that their power to get brutal, racist, and criminal police officers rehired is curtailed. They are the main problem in our city and the Movement will not stop until this contract is dismantled.
Susan Butler, 6/19/20
I want to weigh in on the question of how Civil Rights Movement veterans are feeling about our current movement: Very optimistic! During the 2015 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery I had the privilege of being on a panel of vets at the Unitarian gathering in Birmingham when we were asked to say a few words to the young people in our midst. As the first panelist to respond (& with no time to prepare) I told them to be prepared because the building of a new phase of the Movement may come out of ho where at any time.
In some ways I feel that about the Southern Civil Rights Movement, although years of hard work & organizing had gone before it, but the lunch-counter protests, which were one spark, were not planned. Since then there have been many years of organizing, not on a massive scale, but in our communities on local levels in Black & white areas that have occurred in the interim — and so many deaths in as many different areas of the country ... And then there was Trump ... Then there was COVID19 which kept people from jobs & schools ... And then there was the murder of George Floyd on national and international TV. What better conditions for a perfect storm?
Now keep the momentum ... & going ... & going. I see all kinds of possibilities. And I am very, very proud of our young people.
For freedom & justice, Susan
Matt Herron, June 28, 2020
How I feel About The Demonstrations
I'm actually somewhat hopeful. I've been waiting for the movement to revive itself for more than fifty years, and each time it appears that something significant may develop, it mostly fades away. It didn't happen with the Gulf War, it didn't happen with "Occupy" it didn't happen with the Women's March, or with Ferguson — partly I think because while it's pretty easy to organize demonstrations via Social Media, it's very difficult to build a community or develop sustained leadership via Social Media.
This time it feels different — finally significant portions of the country appear beginning to understand what it feels like to be Black; as well as what it FEARS like to be Black. I'm hopeful that so much of the uprising is young, and that these young people have been able to sustain the demonstrations night after night, week after week. And I'm hopeful that while many of them are white, most of them are black, brown, Asian, gay, trans, whatever. Most of all, I'm hopeful that the uprising for the most part has been peaceful.
But what comes next is most important. Are people right now beginning to build community, develop policy, discus strategy, grow new leadership? I'm hopeful they are. The SNCC Legacy/Woke Vote project is a very good beginning.
The real test may come in December or late November. If the election is stolen — a real possibility — then absolutely everybody must move immediately into the streets; if not, our (?)Democracy may be in real danger.
Dorothy M. Zellner, July 6, 2020
What this moment means to me:
For more than 30 years I have been speaking to groups of young people, Black, white, brown, immigrant and native-born, high school mostly, but some college and some even in elementary schools. I say some things about how racist this country is and how the Black community is a model of courage and dignity. Then I get to the civil rights movement. I describe how nobody expected it would happen in exactly that way exactly at that time, how it started small, how it grew, how SNCC was born and then played such an important role.
Inevitably there were two questions:
1) What should we do?
2) Will it ever happen again?
To the first I always referred the young people back to their own situations and their own communities: they would have to decide. To the second I always said that if the civil rights movement happened once, it could happen again. The young people would nod but it was hard for them to believe what I was saying.
Well, now they know.
The hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people of every race and ethnicity, some of whom were silent up to now but who believe that Black Lives Matter — the young people who have marched and protested these horrible police murders of Black people, who sang and chanted — now know in their hearts what a mass street movement looks like. They know what it means to have some degree of power. No matter what happens from here on in, they will be able to call up in their minds and hearts this conviction for the rest of their lives and nobody will ever be able to take it away from them.
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