Oakland Vigil in solidarity with Charlottesville
I’m still processing the beautiful and diverse solidarity that came together in Oakland to make a stand in solidarity with Charlottesville and unity. A stand against white supremacy, Anti-Semitism, racism, and hate. Friday night I was in Atlanta for Netroots but in my hotel room sick and catching glimpses of the white supremacist terrorists march in Charlottesville unfolding, but not surprised. Saturday was a blur of meetings at Netroots and more info trickling in from Charlottesville. When I heard the news of the death of the humanitarian that would later be named as Heather Heyer, I was not surprised.
The hate and violence seen in Charlottesville is the outcome of the rise of hate groups and crimes that the SPLC has been reporting since 2009. It is the outcome of white nationalists like Steve Bannon occupying the White House. It is the outcome of Donald Trump giving cover and aid to Nazis, white nationalists, and the KKK.
Sunday I was honored to be part of a beautiful resistance to hate. Below is how this beautifully diverse group came together and stood up for unity and love, over division and hate.
Saturday night somewhere over the midwest in a plane I was watching vigils across the country appear on the coalition page Indivisible was leading. Some of the work I do is digital strategy with the Hip Hop Caucus, so somewhere 30,000 feet in the air we coordinated the Caucus joining and me organizing an Oakland event with Bay Area Leadership Committee.
Sunday morning a group of people stepped up to make this beautiful free form vigil come together. We used the model similar to the open format Rev Yearwood laid out at the #RespectMyVote rally in DC just weeks earlier giving open mic and event space to a wide range of voices and groups.
Local activist Jacqueline who captured this moving image stepped up on organizing and providing the sound system that would carry the night
The event opened with amazing community organizer who showed up asking everyone to support each other, be safe, and kicked us off in a chant ¡Si Se Puede! Yes We Can!
Renata Moreira the Executive Director of Our Family Coalition on the impacts of the Trump admin on LGTBQ families. She also stepped up to organize and create a space for families to come together before the vigil.
A member of the Ohlone community spoke and asked everyone to light a candle. If you don’t know the Ohlone are the original and surviving people of the land. “In the face of generations of brutal violence and systematic subjugation, the Ohlone people have survived Spanish soldiers and priests with whips and bibles, Mexican rancheros with guns and white 49ers with chains and murder.” If you live in the bay you can support active payments for occupation here: Shuumi Land Tax.
Part of the ask for the evening was to read a poem or speech that is moving and about overcoming white supremacy or the transition to a united world. Everyone was moved by the reading of Dr. King’s “How Long, Not Long” speech.
A surprising moment in the night a woman walked to the open mic to share her story. She is part of the Lee family, yes the Robert E. Lee family of Virginia. Her emotional words called out the ideology of white supremacy and that none of us are free until all of us are free.
The words of a powerful young speaker. She was asked by a friend how she felt in response to the terror attack with contemplation and wisdom this is what she shared.
This completely unpredictable moment of a German tourists passing by to share thoughts. To share the shame of seeing Nazis on TV in the US, but to share as well that Europeans know that Trump does not speak for America. They hope that the resistance and democracy will win.
As the night went on a rhythm of speakers came. This clip starts after the story is shared by a young Jewish father who describes his nightmare he wakes up to of Nazis chasing him. The terror of seeing Nazis in the streets of America. His feelings of wanting to hide behind his white privilege but felt the power come through to rise up and stand up to hate. As he started to speak I felt the tug of child who looked up adoringly and said that’s my father and I too believe we will win. He was followed by a first time speaker that brought the crowd together in unison.