Rev. Matt Wahlgren of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Cassandrea Jones-Tucker of CommonUnity gave the opening remarks for Fremont’s Anti-Racism Vigil on June 3, 2020 attended by over 500 community residents. We would like to share with you their inspiring words.
The Rev. Matt Wahlgren
St Paul’s Episcopal Church
Today I am here to repent. I here to repent for all the times I have been silent. All the times I didn’t stand up to racist statements, and demeaning jokes. I repent of the deep damage my silence has done to this world.
Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a refugee from Germany at the March on Washington said,
The most urgent and most disgraceful, the most shameful, the most tragic problem is silence.”
We are here to lift the dark veil of silence.
We are here to stand with those who have been oppressed for far too long. What has been happening in this country to our black and brown friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens is not civil and it’s not right. We gather because there is clearly more work to be done. I am sorry that I have not been moved to this point earlier in my life. I am sorry that I thought I could pretend I was not part of the problem and quietly live my life. But the time for that delusion is over. So today I stand with all of you. I have learned that it is not enough to say ‘I’m not a racist’…it is not enough claim to be an ally and stand beside someone else in their fight. I have learned that we need work hand in hand to make change. Today we raise our voices together and cry out ENOUGH! and tomorrow and the days after we work for long lasting systemic changes for equality and equity for all.”
This is not a momentary stand we make together today, but a turning and setting a new trajectory that must continue until justice is done. Until laws are created to hold accountable those that abuse power, until the talks we have with our children are the same talks.
We stand against racism in all its subtle and not so subtle forms.
We stand against the systems that incarcerate black and brown bodies at unjust rates.
We stand against those that fear others, and do violence to bodies because of pigmentation.
We stand against the hurt that continues to be caused by even those that are supposed to protect.
We are only against these things because we are for something so much greater. Today…
We stand for equity and equality for all.
We stand for love that can celebrate the differences between us.
We stand for ears that can hear even when the message hurts because it shines a bright light on our souls.
We stand for a world where we all come together.
We stand today because love calls us to. Love calls us to go out and open some eyes.
James Baldwin said “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”
Today we stand out here with our signs and our voices because this blindness is unacceptable. I pray and I hope that love will open our eyes and the eyes of those passers by.
Lets get out there and help some people see! Let’s heal the blind!
Cassandrea Jones-Tucker, CommonUnity
Opening Remarks: OUR CHARGE
Call and response: Say their names.
KEITH LAMONT SCOTT
From Noose to Knee – I cannot breath…Hands up
As I briefly speak with you, you will hear excerpts from The Negro National Anthem, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Langston Hughes.
We feel injustice has transitioned from a noose to a knee.
We are here acknowledging the deaths of the names just called and granted those were only a few. Whenever pain is inflicted or the body is cut, we hurt and we bleed. We are bleeding for justice. We are present to represent people that are tired, rightly, we are frustrated with failed policies and practices in systems we encounter daily, we are angry and grieved, we are heartbroken and honestly we are exhausted with the systemic problems of injustice and disparities harming our communities. We hear and see our family being senselessly killed, and lack of consequences of not confronting long-standing problems, law enforcement bias, and the false myth that we, people of color are dangerous or guilty until proven innocent.
We don’t have to be violent to protest, to have our voices heard, but we must be focused, we must be effective and we must be purposeful.
We must evaluate ourselves. What is fueling the momentum we have right now? Is it anger, frustration, hurt or injustice?
I appeal to you, the energy we have now is what must fuel us. But, it cannot be fueled with OUR anger and frustration because that turns into rage.
We must stay fueled with purpose. We must stay fueled to be heard. When we are heard, we can bring about change. We cannot become weary. Look at those standing next to you, this problem is not Black, Brown or White problem. Neither can this be fixed if we feel it is not our problem. It is moral problem of right and wrong! Dr. King stated, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We cannot generalize and put everyone in the same category.
We cannot paint law enforcement officers with one broad stroke, as we cannot and do not appreciate being categorized with those whose behaviors do not represent us.
We cannot go back to where we were prior to May 25, 2020, neither would we choose to go back.
Reduce violence against unarmed Black and Brown Men and Women.
We must demand and expect better for ourselves and our children.
Who are we?
We are no longer tolerating what we once tolerated.
We are courageous, we are fueled with determination, inspiration and hope.
We are raising awareness.
We need to stay informed.
We agree time for change is way overdue.
We want justice, not only from the lives taken from us, but for our children.
We must acknowledge the culture we live in and change the culture.
We can do that with peaceful protesting, putting ourselves in the position to have a voice and change policies and Know, the world is forever changed by who we are!
Langston Hughes wrote,
I had only hope then, but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow –
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust. S
tand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
We must respond as one voice in CommonUnity.
Our children are watching us, their future depends on our actions today and as we move forward.
I pray for us, our courage, strength our peace and direction
Marching progress forward and not forget what drives us push forward, our work is not done until we feel victory is won, until we can boldly stand and say Liberty & Justice for ALL.
We must vote and we need to vote on every level.
We are the difference we need!