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“A Peace Warrior”: Poet, Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou Remembered by Sonia Sanchez

On the Pulse of Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers – desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree I am yours – your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/5/29/a_peace_warrior_poet_civil_rights

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Amiri Baraka (1934-2014): Poet-Playwright-Activist Who Shaped Revolutionary Politics, Black Culture

R.I.P Amiri Baraka dies Thursday in New Jersey at the age of 79.

The life and legacy of Amiri Baraka, the poet, playwright and political organizer who died Thursday at the age of 79. Baraka was a leading force in the black arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963 he published “Blues People: Negro Music in White America,” known as the first major history of black music to be written by an African American. A year later he published a collection of poetry titled “The Dead Lecturer” and won an Obie Award for his play, “Dutchman.” After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 he moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater. In the late 1960s, Baraka moved back to his hometown of Newark and began focusing more on political organizing, prompting the FBI to identify him as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States.” Baraka continued writing and performing poetry up until his hospitalization late last year, leaving behind a body of work that greatly influenced a younger generation of hip-hop artists and slam poets. We are joined by four of Baraka’s longtime comrades and friends: Sonia Sanchez, a renowned writer, poet, playwright and activist; Felipe Luciano, a poet, activist, journalist and writer who was an original member of the poetry and musical group The Last Poets; Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College and author of “A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics”; and Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, New Jersey.

Source: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/10/amiri_baraka_1934_2014_poet_playwright

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Nelson Mandela has taken his last breath

Nelson Mandela has taken his last breath

The announcement of Mandela’s death was made by President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died, South Africa’s president says.

Mr Mandela, 95, led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison.

He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.

In a statement on South African national TV, Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela had “departed” and was at peace.

Continue reading the main story
Nelson Mandela
1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

1943 Joined African National Congress

1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial

1962 Arrested, convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport, sentenced to five years in prison

1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life

1990 Freed from prison

1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

1994 Elected first black president

1999 Steps down as leader

2001 Diagnosed with prostate cancer

2004 Retires from public life

2005 Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Mr Zuma said.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was one of the world’s most revered statesmen after preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

He had rarely been seen in public since officially retiring in 2004.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves,” Mr Zuma said.

“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Mr Mandela, saying “a great light has gone out in the world”.

Earlier, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge, outside Mr Mandela’s home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, said there appeared to have been an unusually large family gathering.

Among those attending was family elder Bantu Holomisa,

A number of government vehicles were there during the evening as well, our correspondent says.

Since he was released from hospital, the South African presidency repeatedly described Mr Mandela’s condition as critical but stable.

Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student.

He and other ANC leaders campaigned against apartheid (white-only rule).

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, but was released in 1990 as South Africa began to move away from strict racial segregation.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He stepped down after five years in office.

After leaving office, he became South Africa’s highest-profile ambassador, campaigning against HIV/Aids and helping to secure his country’s right to host the 2010 football World Cup.

He was also involved in peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and other countries in Africa and elsewhere.

via: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25249520

Video

Just before we went to air today, Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. “There’s a Somali proverb that goes: a mere finger can’t obscure the sun,” Osman said. “You cannot hide the truth by deception; as any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here.” Earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.

One of the core solutions to reducing climate change proposed in the Kyoto Protocol has resurfaced at the latest U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland — the creation of a carbon market. However, climate activists here say it is a “false solution” pushed by bankers and bureaucrats. We speak with South African activist and professor Patrick Bond, who says negotiators should instead emphasize cutting emissions and paying climate debt.

Activists from around the world have been meeting in a convergence center in downtown Warsaw, holding their own meetings to strategize about how to address climate change. Many of them also attended the U.N. climate summit, but walked out in frustration for the first time in 19 years on Thursday. Democracy Now!’s Amy Littlefield and Hany Massoud visited the activist center to file this report. “This has been a beautiful, valuable space,” says Kenyan activist Ruth Nyambura. “If nothing comes out of this COP, what the youth constituency of the UNFCCC has done has really, really changed the game.”

See video here > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEv7JJzDxPI

via http://www.democracynow.org