Tim DeChristopher said, “We will be a movement when we sing like a movement.” and he was right! As we look at the environmental movement, we see a vacuum of energy and spirit; rallies, protests, actions - they are all important, but the media and our wider community has become apathetic to the chanting and fist shaking that these actions often employ. Song brings about a vital engagement of the spirit that no one can deny or shut down, and creates an inviting and non-threatening atmosphere. When you look back to the Civil Rights movement or to the Union movement, you think of thousands standing up to the powers that be, and singing. Singing in the face of violence, oppression and opposition.
During Tim DeChristopher’s Trial that stretched out over a period of 5 days, Peaceful Uprising organized a group of supporters that stood outside the Courthouse in rain or shine, for each day of the trial, singing loud enough for Tim to hear them. When Tim exited the courthouse after being found guilty on both counts of felony, a group of over 100 people stood on the steps with him, tears streaming, their voices rose to sing “Stand” and followed him down the street. When we sing together. as a movement or as a community, we are reminded that are not alone. The songs not only reached Tim, but confused and eventually touched the Homeland Security officers and police that were stationed outside of the courthouse each day.
Another memory of song that Peaceful Uprising helped to create was during the 2011 sit-in at the Department of the Interior (DOI), led a march of some 600 protesters into the DOI in April 2010 singing and asking for an audience with Ken Salazar. As the lobby filled and people linked arms and began the sit-in, the rotunda filled with voices singing, “We Shall Overcome”, and “Singing For Our Lives”, as the voices echoed throughout the marble walls it created a haunting and unforgettable experience for all involved. After threats of felonies, the 21 that were arrested were taken out in handcuffs to the waiting paddy wagons, joyously singing and being met with a crowd of 500 supporters singing with them and thanking them for standing up for their future.
Our challenge to you:Start learning songs and teach them to your Beloved Community. Organize a song day, print out some song books, if you play the guitar, most of the chords are easy to learn, or you can go to music.peacefuluprising.org to listen to recordings of some of our favorite songs and sing along! Next time you organize an action, we challenge you to try and incorporate song rather than chanting, and notice the rise in energy and solidarity amongst your community, and the reaction from those outside your group. Song, is truly an expression from one heart and one soul, to another - it cannot be ignored.