USSF – Opening March

From 6/19-6/21 MPT placed a peace team at the IJAN conference. I want to write about that experience and the amazing people I have had the chance to meet and work with as part of it. Watch for that soon… in the mean time, here is some other news from my time at the USSF.
MPT was asked to place a peace team at the opening march. A group of us responded to the call. Our job – to be a peaceful presence – projecting out intentions for peace, dignity and justice. It is hot, sunny, and I am already sunburned and sore from long hours of Peace Team work the 3 previous days. The march is long and I am not sure I want to do this. But I made a commitment.

We start down the streets with “feeder marches” joining us along the way our numbers swell.

The march is fabulous—colorful, lively, joyfully loud, and made up of an incredible diversity of people.

Leading the march is the indigenous peoples contingent with the tribal elders leading the way. Detroit area youth follow, labor leaders and workers march near-by environmentalists carrying sunflowers. There are anarchists with black flags and red flags, Revolutionary workers selling newspapers, a group of domestic workers in magic T-shirts, faith communities, anti-war activists and Welfare Rights Unions. The groups go on and on.

Big puppets including one of Martin Luther King with recordings of his speeches play as we pass Central United Methodist Church – known in the community to be the place where King gave his famous I have a Dream speech – a practice run of sorts before he gave the speech in the well known March on Washington. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, Arab…every race, ethnicity, style of dress, gender expression, and age are represented.

A brass band plays, people dance. People sing, people chant, people laugh. The sun is hot and people offer to spray us with water guns and spray bottles. Clowns walk by on stilts, fairies dance by and drummers beat energy into the air. People pass around water bottles and sunscreen. Our peace team is near the front and as we move toward Cobo Hall a young girl near-by is lifted onto her mother’s shoulders so she can see the crowd behind us. “Look at ALL the people” she declares.

Look indeed! As I look myself it strikes me that the march is a beautiful vision of what a real social movement could be – a sign of hope and resilience. A march through Detroit – a city on the surface full of decay and despair and yet , when you look just right — the city that is itself a sign of hope and resilience.

I am so glad that I am here!






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