Boggs Center – Living for Change News – April 8th, 2019

April 8th, 2019

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baba

[Cover Photo: from Homrich 9 action. credited to ACLU]
Let’s pack the court room THIS WEDNESDAY for Baba Baxter’s motion hearing in regards to an injury he sustained while being forced into an ADA noncompliant van by the police during a direct action protesting water shutoffs #Homrich9

2PM in ROOM 226 @ Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse

!!!SHARE AND SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Bring a Picture I.D.
No cellphones or weapons!

An Update from the Highlander Center

What we know:

As most of you know, a devastating fire burned down our main office early Friday morning. Thankfully no one was inside the building and no one was injured.
We also found a symbol connected to the white power movement spray-painted on the parking lot connected to the main office.

While we do not know the names of the culprits, we know that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally.

Since 2016, the white power movement has become more visible, and we’ve seen that manifest in various ways, both subtle and overt. They’ve targeted and exploited working class and cash-poor white communities searching to find a sense of belonging, dividing them from people who support efforts to improve the material conditions of all people. Their attempts to increase in size and scale impact the realities of our daily lives here because the majority of Black people in this country reside in southern states. As islamophobic attacks become more prevalent, we’re hyper-aware that the majority of Muslims in this nation are Black people. We know that anti-Semitic attacks have rocked the Jewish community. We know that anti-immigrant forces are consolidating, attacks on reproductive freedoms abound and the politics of the federal government’s executive branch are speaking to the privilege-based fears of the white power movement, emboldening them in ways the 21st century hasn’t seen.

Even in the face of these realities, the southern freedom movement is alive and well. Our folks are winning campaigns. They’re organizing and base building. People are fighting for progressive policies and using direct action to hold people in power accountable.

Highlander is a sacred place built by communities of the most affected people and it has become a home to those who believe in freedom and collective liberation here in the south, across the U.S and around the world. Because of our history we are not surprised that this space, one where marginalized people working across sectors, geographies and identities show up consistently, has been repeatedly targeted over our 87 years of existence.

What’s next:

The safety of our people is and has always been our first concern. The investigation is nowhere near over. We are continuing to survive and monitor the process that takes more time in a rural geography with limited public resources. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will continue their investigation. The Tennessee Bomb and Arson people will continue to do theirs. We are not confused about how rarely people are ever charged with arson; however, we are surviving and monitoring these investigations.

This is a time for building our power. Now is the time to be vigilant. To love each other and support each other and to keep each other safe in turbulent times. Now is not the time to dismiss how scary things are, which makes it even more important to have concrete assessments of concrete conditions, and sophisticated strategies to build a new world.

What’s next for Highlander is that we will continue to be that sacred place, that movement home, that place where strategy is developed, that place where principled struggle happens, that place that accompanies movement, that place that incubates radical work, and that place that demands transformative justice.

We love you all, we appreciate your patience and questions, and please continue to be vigilant.

Thinking for Ourselves
Critical Days
Shea Howell
April 4th is an important day for our country. It is the day Martin Luther King Jr. denounced the Vietnam war and called for a radical revolution in values, in 1967. It is also the day he was murdered, one year later.  Over the past two years, this day has been acknowledged widely. In 2017 thousands of people gathered to read Breaking the Silence and discuss its meaning 50 years later. Last year, people gathered to consider how movements live beyond individuals, shifting and changing to overcome the challenges we all face.

This year, these events received little public attention. Perhaps these moments of collective experience are dimming. Most of the people who were part of them are gone now, especially those closest to King.

Still, in honor of that day, I always read King words. I find them a searing indictment of who we are, and a compassionate longing for who we might become. “America,” he says, “Can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So, it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.”

These words were still with me as I read the news of Donald Trump’s visit to the U.S.-Mexican border town of Calexico. There he announced. “Our country is full.” He said, “The system is full. We can’t take you anymore.” “Our country is full…Turn around.” He continued, “When it’s full, there is nothing you can do. You have to say, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t take you.’”

These words were followed by another threat to close the border and more bluster about the wall. Trump was especially flattered by a plaque that his Secretary of Homeland Security had installed in October of 2018, to ensure that Trump got credit for a little over two miles of new fence, initiated by his predecessor. It reads below the presidential seal, “This plaque was installed on October 26, 2018, to commemorate the completion of the first section of President Trump’s border wall.”

Missing from the entire affair was Trump’s nominee to head ICE, Ronald Vitiello, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol. Trump abruptly announced he was withdrawing the nomination because he wants someone “tougher” in charge of immigration enforcement.

Trump’s policies at the border are a crime against humanity. Last week the people held under a bridge, sleeping on gravel, were let go and the ACLU is filing a suit on their behalf. “The detention of migrants for multiple nights in outdoor detention pens is an unprecedented and extreme violation,” the complaint says. “Although CBP has long violated the rights of migrants in its custody, the agency’s decision to detain migrants, including children, in caged dirt filled outdoor areas is an escalation of this administration’s cruelty. Without immediate attention and oversight, we will continue to risk the lives of those seeking refuge in our country.”

King said of Vietnam, “Somehow this madness must cease” for it “is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”

He reminds us that we must find new ways to act in love or, “We shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality ad strength without sight.”

Our children will remember what has happened to them and what we choose to do. These are critical days.

 

 

 

River Wise Magazine – Winter Spring 2019

Rest In Power, Mama Lila

As we continue to mourn this great loss in our community, remember her family, close friends, and comrades. A legend, mother, sister, wife, a righteous woman of immovable conviction, water warrior, tireless champion for the people and challenger of the status quo, fierce anti-racist, a trainer and educator of generations, Lila Mae Leaks Cabbil will be sorely missed. The family has asked that donations be made to The People’s Water Board in honor of Lila Cabbil.

Congrats, Mama Aneb!

Aneb Kgositsile, or Dr. Gloria House, is the latest recipient of one of the biggest arts honors bestowed on Detroiters for a lifetime of work.

She is 2019’s Kresge Eminent Artist, an annual award reserved for those who’ve made distinguished contributions to the arts and the community at large. It comes with a $50,000 prize. You can read more about her honor here.

Ending White Supremacy, Here, and Now
The physical destruction of White Supremacy in all of its embodiments requires a political clarity about the moment in which we are living. How much of this still applies today? Of the failure of so-called White allies to support unapologetic calls for uncompromising Black liberation in our lifetime, is El Hajj Malik El Shabazz not speaking prophetically then about our now?  Listen with intent to act.
New Online Presentation of Riverwise Features
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The Heidelberg Project has launched a youth arts program! The Heidelberg Arts Leadership Academy (HALA) is a free in-school or after-school arts education program designed to empower students in grades 4 through 12 with the tools they need to be active change agents in their community.

HALA’s mission is to empower students through arts, cultural and academic enrichment, STEAM education and social justice projects that cultivate potential and inspire active leadership.

Click to check out the HALA brochure or visit the website for more information.

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Boggs Center – Living For Change – April 2nd, 2019

April 2nd, 2019

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The Boggs Center would like to extend our love, respect and admiration to the Highlander Center for its 87 year legacy and commitment to social justice.

We are bereaved to learn of your recent fire, and offer our support as you continue your decades long contribution to the betterment of humanity.

In love and struggle, Boggs Center Board




A Message from the Highlander Center

As most of you know, a devastating fire burned down our main office early Friday morning. Thankfully no one was inside the building and no one was injured.

We also found a symbol connected to the white power movement spray-painted on the parking lot connected to the main office.
While we do not know the names of the culprits, we know that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally.

Since 2016, the white power movement has become more visible, and we’ve seen that manifest in various ways, both subtle and overt. They’ve targeted and exploited working class and cash-poor white communities searching to find a sense of belonging, dividing them from people who support efforts to improve the material conditions of all people. Their attempts to increase in size and scale impact the realities of our daily lives here because the majority of Black people in this country reside in southern states. As islamophobic attacks become more prevalent, we’re hyper-aware that the majority of Muslims in this nation are Black people. We know that anti-Semitic attacks have rocked the Jewish community. We know that anti-immigrant forces are consolidating, attacks on reproductive freedoms abound and the politics of the federal government’s executive branch are speaking to the privilege-based fears of the white power movement, emboldening them in ways the 21st century hasn’t seen.

Even in the face of these realities, the southern freedom movement is alive and well. Our folks are winning campaigns. They’re organizing and base building. People are fighting for progressive policies and using direct action to hold people in power accountable.

Highlander is a sacred place built by communities of the most affected people and it has become a home to those who believe in freedom and collective liberation here in the south, across the U.S and around the world. Because of our history we are not surprised that this space, one where marginalized people working across sectors, geographies and identities show up consistently, has been repeatedly targeted over our 87 years of existence.

What’s next:

The safety of our people is and has always been our first concern. The investigation is nowhere near over. We are continuing to survive and monitor the process that takes more time in a rural geography with limited public resources. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will continue their investigation. The Tennessee Bomb and Arson people will continue to do theirs. We are not confused about how rarely people are ever charged with arson; however, we are surviving and monitoring these investigations.

This is a time for building our power. Now is the time to be vigilant. To love each other and support each other and to keep each other safe in turbulent times. Now is not the time to dismiss how scary things are, which makes it even more important to have concrete assessments of concrete conditions, and sophisticated strategies to build a new world.

What’s next for Highlander is that we will continue to be that sacred place, that movement home, that place where strategy is developed, that place where principled struggle happens, that place that accompanies movement, that place that incubates radical work, and that place that demands transformative justice.

We love you all, we appreciate your patience and questions, and please continue to be vigilant.


Thinking for Ourselves
Critical Voices
Shea Howell


The arch of universe bent a little closer to justice this week. The massive, toxic trash incinerator that has been poisoning Detroit for more than 3 decades announced it is closing down. This marks a victory for one of the most sustained, imaginative, and persistent campaigns for environmental justice anywhere.

Across Detroit people who pulled babies in carts to protest pollution can now share the good news with their grandchildren. All of us will be able to breathe more freely and can look forward to summer days, no longer assaulted with air that suffocates us and infuses our bodies with noxious poisons.

I vividly remember going to one of the first hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency with James and Grace Lee Boggs more than 30 years ago. James had agreed to give testimony against the incinerator on behalf of the Detroit Greens. He argued that the incinerator was taking us in the wrong direction. Its need for trash to burn to produce electricity depended on increasing consumption and waste. Instead, he argued, we should be developing policies to decrease our consumption and encourage recycling and reuse. He also talked about the finances of the project, predicting that Wall Street banks would become an increasing burden on city finances. He concluded his remarks reminding people that our major hospitals, meat packing, and fresh food centers all were in the path of daily cancer producing pollutants. People were being placed at risk every time they ate something or went to the hospital to be cured of the asthma or cancer caused by that very air.

Jimmy was followed by Harold Stokes, a life-long environmental activist and champion of justice. Harold had on a tee shirt from the Evergreen Alliance saying “Stop the Incinerator.” I remember him pointing to his chest and reading the slogan, explaining that was why he was offering testimony. Then, with a dramatic gesture, he ripped the shirt off, revealing another. Then another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another. Each one had a strong message, all from different groups, all saying “stop.” The last one was a beautiful stencil of a single blue bird. Harold walked up to the panel and asked them to look closely at the bird. He wanted his grand-children to be able to see such beauty, to hear its song. He warned that if the incinerator continued, it would be a death sentence to such fragile life.

The final testimony I remember from that day was from the Gross Pointe Junior League. Dressed for tea, a young mother read her remarks. I was not prepared for the depth of her testimony. She explained her group started talking about the smell of the incinerator at social gatherings. They had seen some of the protests and had started to wonder if the air carrying the smell was carrying other things into their community. They developed a process to test air quality systematically and had found alarming levels of pollutants, well above the levels allowed by the EPA. They had also found that in the first three months of the year, the air contained especially high levels of lead, cambium, and mercury as well as toxins related to the burning of plastics. The three months after Christmas, she said, were the worst, because toys and batteries were tossed away.

All of the concerns voiced that day proved to be true. For years these arguments have been repeated, deepened, and become more insightful. But their basic truth continues. Now at long last, after causing countless debilitating conditions and deaths, after extracting more than $1.2 billion from the city, this week it will end.

There are many lessons to learn from this long struggle. Those charged with the responsibilities of protecting people and our planet would do well to consider the critical role community members play in  assessing public policies. Learning to listen to voices motivated by care and compassion, rather than corporate greed, protects life.


Amp has a new Mission and Vision

mission-blog


High school students gathered Sunday in Midtown in Detroit to remember  protests a year ago to support safer schools, including making clean water available and stopping gun violence.


Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion (MRDI) is presenting its inaugural conference on achieving meaningful workplace diversity through Workplace Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Consulting. REGISTER TODAY!


Want to visualize inequality? View cities from above. 

Boggs Center – Living for Change News – March 26th, 2019

March 26th, 2019

grace and jimmy
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Thinking for Ourselves
Truth Matters
Shea Howell
Neil Barclay is getting a lot of press. As the new CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Barclay has been filling up the airways, giving interviews and penning columns. All of this is in an effort to justify the opening of the exhibit entitled Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty. Barclay has been the subject of major news stories, written an op-ed, and appeared on Detroit Today and Michigan Radio. Even the Non Profit Quarterly has profiled his new job.

These sources mention the controversy over the Jefferson exhibit, but not a single one has reached out to the Black Legacy Coalition for comments. Nor have they asked any of the organizations that oppose the exhibit, including a leading professional association of African American scholars, and human rights groups.

This lack of coverage was most glaring last week as members of the Black Legacy Coalition went to the Detroit City Council with their concerns. Coalition members asked the Council to exercise its authority and stop the current exhibit.  They also asked that the Council insist on community-based representation on the Museum board of directors, and that the Council increase the annual funding of the Museum to support needed repairs and program development.

These remarks went unreported in the mainstream press.

Instead the mainstream media has focused on recycling the arguments for the exhibit, this time delivered by the new CEO. Most of Barclay’s editorial simply restates the known facts of Jefferson, but continues to sanitize their relationship.

Barclay writes that Jefferson “fathered six children with Sally Hemings.” Jefferson did not “father” children. He raped a 14 year old girl whose life he totally controlled. This is not fathering. The use of the term father is intended to obscure the sexual violence inherent in this relationship. It is precisely this kind of confusion that has fueled objections to the exhibit.

Barclay claims, “at the Wright, the exhibition puts the lives of six enslaved families who lived at Monticello at the center of the narrative presenting them as fully-realized humans … and not just as plot devices for a story about Jefferson. Our insistence that the lens through which the story is told was shifted to the perspective of enslaved families is the most exciting — and to date unique — aspect of the Wright’s presentation of the exhibition.”

What this means in reality is that Barclay moved the life size statue of Jefferson away from the front door. Visitors are not greeted by Jefferson when they walk in. Instead they walk over a tombstone with the names of people who were enslaved. Jefferson is a little further in, still on his pedestal.

The primary justification that Barclay gives for the exhibit is it sparks “dialogue.”

This is of course the justification that the Jefferson Foundation put forward in its grant proposal. We need to talk about race. The exhibit is “a lens through which to understand the complicated dynamics of our founding, and the ways in which slavery continues to shape our nation.”

But the place they are aiming to encourage dialogue is among African Americans. They are targeting four African American museums around the country.

Why? African Americans know full well that slavery was evil. African Americans do not need to be told this, and certainly not through the “lens” provide by Jefferson.

This reasoning is much like the infamous Kerner report that found the causes of rebellion in the US to be white supremacy, and then made a host of recommendations to change African Americans. This exhibit, based on lies, is as dangerous for white people as it is insulting to African Americans. It wants to keep Jefferson as focus, not confront the violence he perpetuated. It is part of the current white supremacist thrust to rewrite history.

The Black Legacy Coalition is encouraging everyone to call  or email City Council and demand they close down this exhibit, expand the board, and increase support for one of the most visionary, sacred places in our city.

This museum was built by public funds, voted for by the citizens. The city budget allocates funds to it every year. We must insist that there is at least one place in or city where truth matters.

The Black Legacy Coalition invites you to a public meeting on April 13. Save the date. Save the Wright.
April 13th
1:00 p.m – 3:00 p.m

Galilee Baptist Church
5251 E. Outer Drive, Detroit MI

Tell Your Family Members, Neighbors, and Friends!
#BlackLegacyCoalition

Fearless Woman – Dr. Grace Lee Boggs
WATCH

Can the city send a contractor to strip and demolish your house without even a notice?
Russ Bellant

On March 7 contractors showed up at a house on W. Arizona in the Six Mile/Woodward area without notice to the owner or neighbors and pulled bricks, windows and 6 ft fencing from the property. This house has been owned since 2016 by a family with 6 children that has been restoring the house so that they can move their family in. It was secured until the contractor flattened the doors and broke out windows that they did not remove. They also broke out some basement glass block windows.

The owners were alerted by neighbors and arrived to stop the destruction of their house. The contractor was rude but eventually called their boss who said to stop work. By then one of the contractors, Brickworld, had bundled up 4 pallets of bricks and the fencing was gone. They demanded to see the paperwork authorizing contractors on their property but no paperwork was provided at that time. She advised them to leave her bricks but by the next morning all 4 pallets were gone.
ArizonaSt-2 2
She called the City’s Buildings Safety and Environmental Engineering Department (BSEED) and was told that if she wanted to repair the damage to her house, she had to obtain a $700 permit. No apology or admission of error was forthcoming. The house has been open to the elements since. After a BSEED employee threatened to have the contractor come back and finish the demolition, Supervisor Arthur Edge (who I consider a man of his word) promised a suspension of the demolition activity, according to the owner. Later documents shared with the owner regarding the contract had dates going back to 2015.
So, how can a 2015 contract be valid when the owner (the City) sold the property and thus forfeited its right to solely determine the fate of this property.? The house was, after all, secured by the rightful owner until the contractor destroyed the security.

How can the City and contractor not immediately begin discussions with the owner to make the family whole for the harm that they caused?
How can the contractor be allowed to strip the house and sell the harvested material AFTER they were informed that the property was not the City’s property and it certainly was not the contractor’s property.

From my point of view, multiple crimes were committed – breaking and entering, vandalism and theft of property. Somebody needs some jail time.

If you think that this requires citizens to stand in support of this family (and others in similar straits exist, I am told by several downtown sources), please write russbellant@gmail.com that you will help when and where possible.

In the face of fear. A Call from James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community leadership

1-16-2019 final Boggs Center-Accordian Fold fear Pamphlet-PrintIn the face of fear brochure

In the face of fear

A Call from James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community leadership

We have seen the face of fear and fascism. It is tear gas shot at barefoot children in diapers. We cannot look away.  We cannot be distracted by the din of  distraction, disinformation and denial.

Before this moment we knew this president was capable of putting children in cages. We knew he would call immigrants names and whip up nationalistic hatreds. We knew he would endorse white supremist as good people, condone the murder and dismemberment of a journalist, refuse to limit right wing violence, withdraw protections for people who are transgender, use language to foster hatred, embrace torture and the use of force, attack women, people of color, and anyone who was critical of his policies, deny science, violate basic standards of decency, and demonstrate a complete disregard for truth.  Now we know he will tear gas barefoot children.

We know all of this about Donald Trump. We know this is the kind of person he is. This is the kind of country he is creating.  We also know that some of us embrace him. We see the depth of their fear. Most of them are white, most of them men, all of them disconnected from any moral center.

Now, the only question is where do the rest of us stand? What kind of country do we want? What kind of people are we?

The scenes on the Southern border of the U.S. present a moment of decision for all of us. Just as the unleashing of sticks and dogs on peaceful demonstrators challenged the conscious of America a half century ago, we are again challenged to respond.

Some of us will stand with Trump. But the rest of us cannot condone him with silence. We need to support one another to sustain our outrage at the terror our government is wielding on a daily basis.

We at the Boggs Center denounce this president and his actions. We call for open borders.

  • We call upon all people of good will to publicly and forcefully object to this inhuman policy.
  • We call upon all faith-based organizations to declare Sanctuary for all immigrants.
  • We call upon all organizations to issue public statements welcoming immigrants and denouncing the use of force by this president to prevent their safe passage to this land.
  • We call upon all labor unions to offer support and welcoming assistance to immigrants.
  • We call upon all police, border patrol agents, and military personnel to refuse to comply with orders that harm those who seek nothing but peace and safe harbor.
  • We call upon members of the media to portray accurately and fully the violence being committed in our name.
  • We call upon all teachers, parents and community leaders to hold conversations about immigration, the US role in global violence, and the kind of country we wish to become.
  • We call upon individuals to face this brutality and find ways to extend love, compassion and care in our everyday lives.

 

At every moment in our often bloody, shameful history there have been people who resisted. People resisted the taking of indigenous lands, the enslavement of people from Africa, the use of laws to turn people into property, and the limitations of full citizenship extended to women, people of color, workers, immigrants and youth.

We call upon people to reflect on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King more than 50 years ago when he said, “Now we must resist this barbarism.” America, he said, “ Can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So, it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be — are — are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.”

He said that “Somehow this madness must cease” for it “is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.

In his speech calling for the end of the Vietnam war King offered a new way of thinking about who we could become as a people.  We encourage people to\ consider the wisdom he offers for us as we face a time of choice.

Share his wisdom with family and friends. Dr. King says to us:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

He called on us to look beyond our narrow self -interest and consider “A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.”

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.

King understood that “These are revolutionary times” …”all over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before.”

Dr. King called for “A genuine revolution of values “that begins with the understanding that “our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.”

If we cannot find new ways to act in Love, King warned, “We shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Dr King concluded his speech on breaking his own silence on the war in Vietnam on that long ago April night:

Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message — of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history….

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when “justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”5

  If Trump and his supporters fear barefoot children, how much more must they fear the sounds of our united voices, calling forth a compassionate, just and joy filled future? The choice is ours.

For more information www.boggscenter.org.