Thank you to the Community Life Integration Foundation, and to Ivy Brawner and Maurice Brackett (aka TOS) for the opportunity to perform at the Vallejo Man March yesterday. It was a truly powerful experience to walk down the street surrounded by my fellow citizens, shouting “Silence the Violence! Increase the Peace!”
At moments walking felt like dancing, and chanting felt like singing, and to me, both of those feel like praying. (It was Shabbat after all.) The cloudy skies held in the rain as we travelled from Sonoma and Maine to MLK Park, surrounded by a police escort, photographers, and local filmmakers from the movie Campaignin‘.
Many other community organizations were represented including the Vallejo Peace Project, Fresh Air Vallejo, Vallejo Together, and Justice for Mario Romero.
I did all of this for the cause, but it was truly a sweet surprise to find my name in the Vallejo Times Herald yesterday. Some of the other spoken word artists who turned out and either marched or performed poetry for the cause were C-Pow, Bodacious, Jeff Williams, Travis Jackson, and Stacy Sharelle.
My husband took several photographs of the march which can be found on my Facebook page. I also tried to take some of as many performers as I could prior to the rain.
This was intended to be the debut of an annual event, so if you missed it this year, stay tuned.
Forgive me if you performed or spoke and I did not mention you, as I’m terrible with names!
Vallejo Man March
March 12, 2016: Meet at 11 AM at Sonoma & Main to march for peace in Vallejo
Followed by entertainment at MLK Park by the JFK Library.
Since I was about 12 years old, I always admired folks who worked to make the world a better place, and artists who performed at such things as peace rallies. Well, I never thought that I could be one of those artists. Maybe in some subconscious dream, but sometimes life meets dreams and gives you opportunities, just like the sign as you enter Vallejo, the City of Opportunity.
Through my performing at Poetry by the Bay, I met the lovely Christian poet, Ebonielove Williams, and she introduced me to the duo of Maurice Brackett and Ivy Brawner, a.k.a. TOS, who are a couple of fellow dreamers putting on an event called Vallejo Man March in conjunction with the Community Life Integration Foundation, or the CLIF house that helps this city’s most vulnerable. Those are the folks to contact if you also want to be a part of this.
While they’re passionate, faithful Christians, the event itself is meant to be uniting and open to all, including this Jewish poet, who is very honored to be a part of it, performing as an ally against violence and for peace both on our streets and in our world.
The featured image for this post is a John Lennon inspired poster outside the local gallery, Artiszen. They have a great exhibit going on right now with protest art. I got to see it on my first art walk. I’m grateful to live in a town with such a scene, both for art and for activism.
The following are the two pieces that I intend to perform on March 12. The first poem is my favorite thing that I have ever written, and is from my latest book, Poet Loiterer, attempting to answer the question what can regular folks do in a painful world except be a rebel in favor of goodness, and the other is my vision for how this event will go. Please come and March for peace, for a better Vallejo, and have some fun in the process.
The event takes place from 11 AM to 4 PM with the March beginning at Sonoma and Main Street, and entertainment at MLK Park in Vallejo. It’s family friendly. Here is the Facebook event to RSVP.
Be a rebel for righteousness,
a leader for love,
a troublemaker for the truth,
not a hawk, but a dove!
More than one way to be human,
so many ways to understand.
Join all your hands together,
and march across this land.
Be an agitator for awesome,
a hustler for the heart,
an outcast for open-mindedness,
whatever you do – just start!
More than one way to be an American.
Patriotic pacifists-no weapons in our hands!
Here’s to building better times!
Yes, you know that we can!
(“Headline Antidote” won 5th place in Any Other Poetry at the 2016 Marin County Fair.)
Every night as we settle into sleep,
sirens and gunfire rise up like a dirge from the street.
This in our world is not unique.
Fear and division keeps people apart,
but on this day we choose a new start.
We choose to be great,
choose love over hate,
choose kindness over fear,
so we can all be freer.
Our culture presents violence as an acceptable option.
I say this idea must cease before we’re all in a coffin.
Let us raise our voice against violence as a choice.
We must all be rebels by choosing peace.
We are a rainbow quilt of diversity.
In that we are number one.
So let’s join together and show the world just how it’s done.
We are artists, families, and regular folks
that will spread the seeds of peace
across this town, this state, this nation.
And if we dream it, we can do it.
We can change this world like there’s nothing to it.
Today, today has only proved it.
For today in this beautiful city of opportunity
we joined together in formation.
We united and took first steps for a peace so sweet,
filling our town with love,
voting for goodness with our very own feet.
I’m honored to be among you,
sweet city of Vallejo.
Hang onto this unity,
my dear community,
and don’t ever let it go!