• David Carlson

297: The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls to vote

Day 297: January 7th, 2021


Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator

- Raphael Warnock, Senator


Yesterday's tragic events at Congress in Washington reverberate through our minds and hearts. We cannot unsee the anger, the wanton destruction and death. But we can resolve to use our gifts to reach out to those who have become isolated, fearful and who have listened too long to lies crafted by politicians who don't care how many fires they set. They are arsonists and we must confront them with our better angels as Lincoln said so eloquently:


"We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”


If there is hope (and hope dies last...) I take solace from the words of Reverend and now Senator Raphael Warnock:


In this moment, all of us have a choice to make:

Will we continue to divide, distract and dishonor one another or will we love one another as we love ourselves?


Following his victory in the Senate special election runoff in Georgia on Tuesday, Rev. Raphael Warnock invoked the legacy of civil rights activists Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.



“I think Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi who said when he marched with Dr. King he felt like his legs were praying, I think he and Dr. King are smiling in this moment and we hope to make them proud,”


Heschel was a Polish rabbi, theologian and philosopher who was active in the civil rights movement. In 1965, he led a protest march alongside other civil rights leaders, including King, from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.


“We’re sending an African-American man, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church… and Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish man, the son of an immigrant… to the United States Senate in this moment in which, for years now, we’ve seen an emergence of those forces that would seek to divide us,” Warnock said.


As a Black teenager growing up in Waycross, GA in the 1950s, my mom used to pick somebody else's cotton. The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator. The improbable journey that led to me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.

- Raphael Warnock


" History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.


For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.


Right now, our political leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America.



I’ve been heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully today. Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who’ve refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably.


We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal."

- Raphael Warnock


POEM:


Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes - 1902-1967


Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.


(America never was America to me.)


Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.


(It never was America to me.)


O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.


(There's never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")


Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?


I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.


I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one's own greed!


I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.


Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That's made America the land it has become.

O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,

And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa's strand I came

To build a "homeland of the free."


The free?


Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we've dreamed

And all the songs we've sung

And all the hopes we've held

And all the flags we've hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that's almost dead today.


O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.


Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!


O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!


Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!


SONGS:


Mavis Staples - In Christ There Is No East Or West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsE-89wNWQ


Because All Men Are Brothers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITXCxwtXKwE


James Taylor - Shed A Little Light

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM7j1kf46wo


Jack Savoretti - We Are Bound

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEKmSuGQSzQ

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