Revolution #100, September 9, 2007
Day of Resistance and Remembrance in Harlem
Dozens of people came out to a Harlem street corner for a day of resistance and remembrance last Wednesday, the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I stayed up with a team of aspiring revolutionaries the night before making signs that said "Free the Jena 6" and "This whole damn system is goddamn rotten." In the early afternoon we set up a table with Revolution newspapers, and “Wanted” posters featuring mug shots of the Bush regime and their crimes against the people of New Orleans.
Buses stopped and traffic slowed to honk at our biggest sign that read "Harlem says We Will Never Forgive or Forget Katrina. Honk For New Orleans.”
All different types of people would walk by with their fists in the air. Many took stacks of “Wanted” posters to put up in their neighborhood while throwing donations in the bucket. We struggled for people to stay with us on the spot because of the urgency and necessity for people to change things right now and because of the possibility of bringing a different world into being. Many people took up this call and stayed for five minutes, a half hour or for the rest of the day and became part of bringing more people forward.
One middle-aged Black woman had heard that we were going to be out there because of a flyer she had seen the day before and came over in the afternoon to be a part of it. She was looking through the signs to see which one she wanted and stopped when she saw "Free The Jena 6" because she didn't know who the Jena 6 were. After she discovered that it was about six Black students who face decades of prison for standing up to racist discrimination involving nooses being strung up, she said that she wanted to hold up that sign. You could hear her as the day went on agitating about Jena, saying, “I didn't know about this 30 minutes ago but now you know too and you should stand over here with me and be apart of this.” Two people did.
A South Asian man who works with a progressive church in Harlem held up a poster and tried to relate the situation in New Orleans to Indonesia and South Asia when a tsunami hit in December of 2004. He said to a Bangladeshi man that was passing by that this is not the problem of some Black people over there, this is a problem for all of us that are affected by this system around the world and you cannot look away.
People stood with their kids, giving them markers to play with so that they could be a part of the day for as long as they could. Our team was inspired by all the people who stepped forward so passionately with such urgency and sharp questions to be a part of the day of resistance.
When anyone came to the busy corner of Frederick Douglass Ave. and Harlem’s famous 125th Street, they saw people spanned across both sides of the street, angry and outraged at the bitter injustice of what happened only two years ago but also joyful at resisting and standing up to the crimes of this system.
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