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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Saturday, September 10, 2005

you were taken, or you were left

I spent part of this morning and this afternoon at one of the most powerful events I've ever attended. (...and I've been to a few.) It was called:

Honoring Gulf Coast Families: Mourning Lives Lost and Celebrating the Spirit of Resilience

It was sponsered by the Ella Baker Center, and featured the testimony of families who were survivors of flooded New Orleans, of people who'd been on the rooftops, in the waters of the city....of families with children, parents and grandparents who made their way out of the city, to the hell that was I-10, and it was a hell, and then to the Astrodome and San Antonio.

I want to take some time to think about this...about the survivors, their words, their stories and what was shared today. It was the kind of moment that makes you realize the power of just sharing a room. The fact that there's no substitute for that.

There was prayer, there was music and spoken word. There was anger, but there was also humor, thankfulness and hope as well.

The event reflected something of what Van Jones, director of Ella Baker expressed in this essay. But it was the testimony of those who made it out of New Orleans that really burns in one's heart.

As one woman recalled how she felt, after watching helicopters take other people, from other places, away to safety:

"You were taken, or you were left."

Let's just say, that I've heard plenty of renditions of Amazing Grace...but to hear it sung by a survivor of the rooftops of New Orleans, surrounded by a community of people so thankful that she was alive...added new meaning to that song for me...a song already heavy with the weight of our shared history.


  • If you have a chance to attend something like this, or even organize an event in your own community...I would have to say....do it.

    Obviously this event owed so much to the leadership and pragmatism of Mike Molina, Van Jones and Joshua Abraham for putting it together....Joshua was the one who found these families applying for aid at our local Red Cross in Oakland..

    All I can say is. The voices from New Orleans, the testimony, coupled with performances and words from the poets and performers, many of them New Orleans natives...was a powerful, powerful experience.

    We also raised over $7,000 in direct assitance for those families, and formed small groups to take further action: donations, cultural and political action.

    If there's something like this near you....go!

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 6:12 PM  

  • wow, kid.

    By Blogger NYBri, at 6:28 PM  

  • this is so moving...thank you for posting, will let folks abroad know about the Center, as well.

    By Blogger Terri, at 8:34 PM  

  • don't know if you've heard about it, kid, but terri in tokyo and a bunch of other people have been getting a grassroots organization going to help survivors organize themselves that might be up your alley.

    it sounds like it was a tremendous event.

    By Anonymous wu ming, at 9:16 PM  

  • Thanks for posting, K/O/P. Have crossposted on my blog.

    By Blogger Kath, at 8:04 AM  

  • I know I'm posting on a really old thread, but I ususally don't have much time to offer comments.

    But this post illuminated something for me, as I read "... or you were left."

    The poor, mostly black, people were Left Behind, and righteously so in the eyes of many. I mean, isn't that how it's supposed to go? That good, fine people were able to escape and that evil ones were left behind? Tell me, what didn't go right? says Bush. It was all as expected.

    In fact, isn't it ok to be happy about those deaths, that suffering? God chose to leave them behind, and this is good. We always new we were better, right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:01 AM  

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