Pete Seeger Elegy

by Olivia LaRosa
February 1, 2014

My heart is warmed by the outpouring of love humanity has demonstrated toward Pete Seeger. When people nominated him for the Nobel Prize, I cheered. The people who move us towards cooperation and sharing are too often ignored during their lifetimes. Pete knew that we loved him.

He lived for 35 years past his active musical career, which spanned more than 60 years. He began to travel with his musical parents, both university professors in music, before he was two years old. His entire life was dedicated to spreading love and truth through his banjo.

To honor him further we are collecting the memories of those who saw him, met him, and knew him. Pete would be the last to expect us to engage in hero worship. He would rather we go out and tell the truth the best way we can, like he did.

The greatest concert Pete Seeger never gave

———————————————————— The Ash Grove The greatest concert Pete Seeger never gave ** The greatest concert Pete Seeger never gave ———————————————————— By Joel Bellman | January 29, 2014 9:36 PM It was 30 years ago at the Universal Amphitheatre when I saw Pete Seeger for my first and only time, but despite valiant support from Arlo Guthrie, Holly Near and his old Weavers bandmate Ronnie Gilbert, the years by then were taking their toll. His hands were trembling and his voice unsteady, but Seeger, who died this week at the age of 94, was still a powerful musical presence on that stage – a living link between the Old Left of the Popular Front and New Deal that battled the Depression in the 1930s and fascism in the 1940s, and the New Left of the anti-war, human rights and environmental crusades of the 1960s and beyond. For us, the music that night was secondary: we were paying tribute to a cultural monument, and the air was thick with emotion. But some 20 years later and nearly two thousand miles away, I witnessed the greatest Pete Seeger concert he never gave, and out of the hundreds of shows that I’ve seen through the decades, that’s the one I’ll never forget. This story begins the previous summer. On August 29, 2005, as I celebrated my 50th birthday with a houseful of close friends in Los Angeles, Hurricane Katrina made landfall outside New Orleans. By mid-day, the situation was spinning out of control into unimaginable catastrophe, but the worst was yet to come. The levees breached in more than 50 locations, the water from the storm surge continued to pour into the drowning city. Two days later, Katrina had dissipated, but by then roughly 85% of New Orleans was under water. The vast majority of residents had been successfully evacuated beforehand, but many had ignored the evacuation orders. While at least 15,000 people were subsequently rescued, nearly 1,500 lost their lives in what is considered the worst engineering disaster in American history. And so it was that eight months later, when I had the opportunity to join my wife for a legal convention in New Orleans, I strongly resisted. The city couldn’t possibly be ready for convention business yet, I argued. It would be disaster porn – out-of-towners gaping voyeuristically at the ruined homes and debris-strewn streets, a decidedly un-magical misery tour of human suffering. I thought the convention planners, union-side labor lawyers, epitomized political correctness run amok – determined to express their solidarity with the Crescent City victims in the most vulgar and misguided way possible. As it turned out, I was entirely wrong on every count. Tourism is the lifeblood of the city, and conventions like ours represented a desperately needed transfusion. The residents were only too eager to show and tell what they’d experienced. Their relief and gratitude that somebody still cared enough to visit – during a time when some were writing off the city altogether – was genuinely touching. The hotels and restaurants went overboard to share their hospitality and prove they could keep up their standards. I felt humbled, and deeply ashamed of myself. The convention business concluded, we still had the weekend – and so on April 30, 2006, we found ourselves at the New Orleans Race Track for that year’s Jazzfest, a massive annual musical bacchanal that few thought possible to mount successfully so soon after the disaster. But the show must go on, and once again, we had underestimated the city’s grit and determination to pick itself up and forge ahead. After several days spent sampling the wide variety of indigenous talent and local Cajun, zydeco, gospel and blues groups, the grand finale that Sunday afternoon was Bruce Springsteen, who’d been announced as previewing his upcoming album for the first time before the general public (after a small out-of-town tryout a month before in his own Asbury Park, New Jersey.) a big Springsteen fan, I found myself intrigued by this project: “The Seeger Sessions” was Springsteen’s wildly anti-commercial effort to mount a rock ‘n’ roll hootenanny built around traditional American folk songs and spirituals popularized by Pete Seeger. Springsteen had assembled a band of nearly two dozen musicians – guitar, bass and drums, yes, but also horns, fiddles, accordion and keyboards – held a couple of rehearsals, and gathered everyone over the course of a few days to just bang it out live in the studio, old-school. And there they were, filling the stage like excited kids auditioning for a talent show. The set blasted off with Springsteen’s rousing version of “Mary, Don’t You Weep,” a full-throated treatment of an old Civil War-era Negro spiritual first recorded in 1915 and widely popularized by Seeger during the civil-rights era. The next few songs, “John Henry” and “Old Dan Tucker” sent me hurtling back to my elementary school singsongs. Then things turned solemn with the purposeful gospel ballad, “Eyes on the Prize” – “Freedom’s name is mighty sweet/And soon we’re gonna meet/keep your eyes on the prize/hold on.” At the time of its release, some criticized the album for eschewing politics, a “missed opportunity” for pointed criticism targeting the Bush presidency, growing economic inequity and misguided military adventures abroad. But the critics, not surprisingly, got it all wrong. The collection is arguably Springsteen’s most political album – and a fitting tribute to Seeger’s skill for weaving sharp social commentary into accessible, non-threatening and easily singable folk songs. “My Oklahoma Home,” a superficially jokey tune written by two of Seeger’s fellow Almanac Singers in the 1940s (a group that also included Woody Guthrie), tells the tale of a man whose Oklahoma farm is destroyed by drought and tornados, which also carried away his wife – “Mister, as I bent down to kiss her, she was picked up by a twister” – and concludes sadly, “Yeah, it’s up there in the sky, in that dust cloud over ‘n’ by, my Oklahoma home is in the sky.” Things turn even darker with “Mrs. McGrath,” a mournful ballad about a poor Irish widow talked into sending her son off to join the British fleet, from which he eventually returns, maimed, his legs torn off by a cannonball. The anguished woman cries, “All foreign wars, I do proclaim, live on blood and a mother’s pain, and I’d rather have my son as he used to be, than the King of America and his whole Navy.” The set continued with “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” (including another pointed Bush reference), another spiritual, “Jacob’s Ladder,” Seeger’s civil-rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” then a song that Seeger first performed with The Weavers, “Pay Me My Money Down,” and more. But by then, I had been seized by a kind of emotional delirium that I’ve never experienced in any concert before or since: I can only compare it to the kind of ecstatic religious fervor of a revival meeting. As I said, Pete Seeger – by then, 86 years old – never performed at that concert. But he was surely there, channeled through the music and clarity of moral purpose and determination to stand up and sing out against injustice. That afternoon, beside the wreck of the city, we felt Pete’s power of song lifting us up. He lifts us still. Photo of Seeger and Springsteen at Barack Obama inauguration concert in Washington, January 2009. More by Joel Bellman: The greatest concert Pete Seeger never gave ( You can call him Al ( Ed Edelman and his sense of decency ( The Scapegoat * ( My back pages ( Previous Native Intelligence story: Passion for condors begets passionate condors* ( Next Native Intelligence story: ‘Homeless’ ( LA Observed front page ( | Media ( | Politics ( | Business ( | Arts ( | Place ( New at LA Observed Henry Waxman to retire from Congress ( ‘Homeless’ ( California newspapers to carry a new print Sunday magazine ( Reclaiming the alleys of South LA for parklets ( The story behind Heritage Square and its Victorian homes ( Michelle Obama fundraiser here raises $700,000 for Democrats ( LA sports: Dodgers tickets, Magic and the Lakers, new marathons ( New LA sheriff-to-be talks about fixing the mess ( A look at plans for the Academy movie museum on Wilshire ( The greatest concert Pete Seeger never gave ( Follow us on Twitter On the Media Page California newspapers to carry a new print Sunday magazine ( Kushner and Hiltzik both have their say on Register’s life insurance ( Los Angeles Register starts up its social media presence* ( Stephen Glass cannot be a lawyer in California, court rules ( Hockey night at Dodger Stadium (video and photos) ( Go to Media On the Politics Page Henry Waxman to retire from Congress ( Michelle Obama fundraiser here raises $700,000 for Democrats ( New LA sheriff-to-be talks about fixing the mess ( State Sen. 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The Ash Grove: Sandy Carter in Z Magazine: Celebrating Pete Seeger

Daily Digest Sandy Carter in Z Magazine: Celebrating Pete Seeger Hi. Yesterday’s NY Times obit was written just after news of Pete’s death, just three readers had commented. As of late last night, there were more than 11,000. This review below gives a much deeper understanding of Pete, his guiding philosophy and politics, as well as of history, folk music and the times, as they change. It’s one to save. -Ed Celebrating Pete Seeger By Sandy Carter ( April 1, 1998 Posted in: Activism ( , Africa ( , Asia ( , Canada ( , Caribbean ( , Cuba ( , Ecology ( , Europe ( , Human Rights ( , North America ( , South Africa ( Our songs are like you and me, the product of a long human chain… —Pete Seeger Ever since the radical tradition of American folk music incubated in the 1930s, a loosely defined, loosely tied “folk music community” has inspired strains of popular music linked to radical politics and struggles for social justice. In musical forms such as blues, gospel, work songs, traditional ballads and old-time country sounds, left-wing musicians, and activists have discovered and cultivated authentic “people’s music” giving voice to the experiences of ordinary men and women. The progressive social tradition embedded in American folk music is, however, much more than a body of songs or musical style. The folk community has long been defined by certain attitudes about how music should be made. In “true” folk music there are no superstar celebrities or hits, no big distinctions between performers and audience, no elaborate musical productions. Folk places emphasis on lyrics and the human voice. Its subject matter is the totality of real life. The aesthetic measure of quality is more emotional honesty than musical technique. In sum, the left folk tradition is explicitly opposed to the conventions of “commercial” or mass music making. At the end of the 20th century with historical amnesia rampant, no popular political rebellion on the horizon, and so many of the songs of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly circulating in the mainstream of American cultural life, it is difficult to recall a time when folksingers or folk music could be considered subversive or worthy of repression. But with the release of the double CD compilation Where Have All The Flowers Gone: The Songs Of Pete Seeger (Appleseed Recordings), the music of one of the great torch bearers of alternative music making renews the spirit of radical song. Celebrating Seeger’s remarkable six-decade career as a folksinger/activist, Where Have All The Flowers Gone draws together a broad array of progressive minded musicians to perform songs and poems Seeger has penned or sung in his efforts to chronicle a people’s history through music and encourage the struggles of labor, anti-war and civil rights movements, environmentalists, and any number of other fights against injustice. Well known performers such as Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, the Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Roger McGuinn, Ani Difranco, and actor Tim Robbins are on hand to pay homage and draw attention to the Seeger legacy. But the 39 performances on this deeply moving collection also pulls in a sterling cast of lesser known multicultural activist artists from around the globe and across generations. Author Studs Terkel and singer Ronnie Gilbert (a Seeger colleague in the Weavers) are among the elders. Sweet Honey In The Rock, Guy Davis, Tish Hinojosa, and John Trudell bring the sounds of black gospel, blues, Mexican folk, and spoken word to the program. The international delegation includes Tommy Sands and Delores Keane (Ireland), cellist Vedran Smailovic (Bosnia), Dick Gaughan (Scotland), Bruce Cockburn (Canada), and Billy Bragg (England). One of Pete Seeger’s great contributions to the folk world has been his ability to unearth traditional songs along with their social and historical roots. Viewing song as a bridge to other times, other cultures, and a vibrant connection between the past and present, he then brings to his concert performances a masterful weave of anecdotes and music evoking a common humanity and shared social vision. On Where Have All The Flowers Gone, the stories behind the songs are provided by liner note comments by Seeger, various artists, and producer Jim Musselman. While the humor and generous humanitarian spirit of Seeger’s live shows is missed, the song performances are consistently strong and imbued with the conviction and integrity associated with the Seeger name. The stunning title track opens disc one, with Belfast singer/peace worker Tommy Sands and the legendary Irish vocalist Dolores Keane blending their voices in a quiet, anguished prayer for peace against a vocal backdrop of Catholic and Protestant school children, haunting uillean pipes and accordion, and the mournful cello of Vedran Smailovic. Though not well known in the U.S., Smailovic gained worldwide attention when he refused to stop playing his cello on the streets of Sarajevo after his opera theater was destroyed and 22 of his neighbors died from a mortar attack. Asked by a CNN reporter if he was crazy for playing music with bombs falling, Smailovic replied, “You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello, why do you not ask if they are crazy for shelling Sarajevo?” Such a poignant performance sets a high standard for everything that follows, but this is an album loaded with inspiring, heartfelt music. The everlasting hymn of hope, “We Shall Overcome,” is interpreted with stirring dignity by Bruce Springsteen. Ani Difranco’s restrained rendering of “My Name Is Lisa Kalvelage” (the true story of a woman who stopped a Vietnam bound shipment of napalm by refusing to leave a loading platform), and Dick Gaughan’s angry take on the anti-Vietnam “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy” burn with timeless relevance. With an eerie vocal mix and drums and guitars crackling, the Indigo Girls translate the biblically inspired “Letter To Eve” as a feminist anthem for peace. Santee Sioux poet/activist John Trudell delivers a tough, personalized rendering of “The Torn Flag,” nailing hypocrisies and broken promises to a tarnished symbol of freedom. Other highlights such as the reggae flavored duet of Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt on “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”; John Gorka’s melodic, delicate singing on “The Water Is Wide”; Studs Terkel’s readings of “Oh Sacred World” and “Blessed Be The Nation”; Greg Brown’s loving version of “Sailing Down My Golden River”; and the profound soulfulness of Odetta on “One Grain Of Sand,” suggest the enormous scope and versatility of Seeger’s writing. However, even with nearly two and a half hours of music, Where Have All The Flower Gone is still a slim introduction to the Seeger heritage. Born in New York City in 1919 to musicologist Charles Seeger and concert violinist Constance Edson Seeger, Pete Seeger discovered his musical interest early on, picking up ukulele, guitar, and banjo by his teenage years and finding, at age 15, a developing interest in folk music. After a brief two years at Harvard, he dropped out of college in 1938, wandering about New England painting barns and houses, touring New York state with a puppeteer troupe, and joining with other musicians playing concerts and rallies in support of a dairy farmers union. After a short stint as an assistant to folklorist Alan Lomax, then organizing a Library of Congress Archive Of American Folk Songs, Seeger’s life took a decisive turn. In 1940, when he hooked up with Woody Guthrie in New York after performing at a benefit in support of California migrant farm workers, Seeger’s politics were socialist and he was intent on advancing his views through music. In Guthrie he had a kindred spirit and together they took off across the country paying their way with “the music of the people.” After splitting up, Seeger continued hoboing by himself, along the way polishing performance skills, absorbing songs, and writing a few of his own. By 1941, with Guthrie, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell, he had formed the Almanac Singers to fuse traditional folk music with social protest focused on contemporary issues. The group performed at union rallies and leftist fundraisers and recorded two albums, Songs For John Doe and Talking Union And Other Union Songs, before disbanding shortly after the United States entered World War II. Drafted into the army in 1942 and serving in the Pacific, Seeger continued to collect traditional American songs of all kinds. Following the war, he helped launch Sing Out! The Folk Magazine to encourage social protest and the folk revival. The key turning point for the folk movement, however, occurred in 1948 when Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, and Fred Hellerman convened the Weavers. Within three years the folk quartet sold four million records, while popularizing Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene,” Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” and the South African song “Wimoweh” (appearing on Where Have All The Flowers Gone in a 1980 version recorded at a Weavers reunion concert). In the wake of McCarthyism, the fortunes of the Weavers changed drastically. Finding themselves blacklisted from radio, television, and many concert halls, the group broke up in 1953. Seeger continued to record as a solo artist on Moe Asch’s Folkways label, but in 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Committee On Un-American Activities. While offering to discuss his songs or perform for the committee so that they might better understand his work, he cited the First Amendment and refused to talk about his politics. Though his conviction for Contempt of Congress was overturned by higher courts in 1961, Seeger was effectively blacklisted from the mass media for 17 years. Nonetheless, with the folk revival and political turmoil of the 1960s, cover versions of Seeger songs (“If I Had A Hammer,” “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Bells Of Rhymney”) became chart toppers. With his appearances on college campuses, and at civil rights and anti-war demonstrations, he was again on the front lines of social change, becoming in the process a cultural hero of unquestioned integrity. Decades later, constant touring and crusading have kept that image intact. His songs have traveled over the face of the earth provoking empathy, compassion, thought, and resistance. With a steady output of recordings, he has produced a rich and vast catalog of traditional songs that stands as a national treasure. Skimming through Seeger’s discography, one will find collections of children’s songs, love songs, frontier ballads, civil war tunes, Christmas carols, Leadbelly and Guthrie songs, blues, banjo instruction, nature songs, industrial protest ballads, Bantu choral folk songs, old time fiddle tunes, and numerous other gems imparting hidden or forgotten people’s history. With this huge body of work in mind, Appleseed Recordings founder Jim Musselman promises to release at least another two volumes of Seeger material. Though much of his work (including classic live performances) remains in print, the varied interpretations of his songs on Where Have All The Flowers Gone demonstrate the enduring vitality of his music and message. Whether dressed in the “epic theatre” tradition of Bertolt Brecht, the plain garments of traditional folk, or the multicolored hues of rock, jazz, and gospel, Seeger’s “sound” is humanity. Though he is a teacher of a brand of American history not taught in schools and a living link to a legendary community of singers (Paul Robeson, Earl Robinson, Aunt Molly Jackson, Sara Orgon Gunning, Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, to mention a few) whose mission expressed specific historical concerns, his music is of the ages, conveying an abiding faith in an egalitarian dream. Appropriately, Where Have All The Flowers Gone gives Seeger the final track, “And Still I Am Searching,” to sing his message in his own voice: And I’m still searching Yes I’m still searching For a way we all can learn To build a world where we all can share The work, the fun, the food, the space, the joy, the pain and no one ever ever need or seek to be a millionaire. Appleseed Recordings is a genuine independent label, not a subsidiary of a major entertainment corporation. Appleseed accepts no corporate or outside funding, and donates a percentage of its profits to environmental, human rights, and other progressive organizations. Carter’s: Z Magazine Z Commentary * 2001 In Music ( * Talking About Myths, Heroes, And Scoundrels ( * Reviews ( * Ralph Stanley’s Old-Time Music ( * Amy Ray Goes Stag ( * Spring Reviews ( * Best of 2000 ( * The Great Folk Scare Continues ( * The Grammies: Follow the Money ( * Buena Vista Social Club ( * When Kids Kill ( * Littleton ( * Kazan and the Oscars and Us ( ZNet ( | ZMagazine ( | ZBlogs ( | Z Media Institute ( | Z Video Productions ( | ZBooks ( | Contact Us ( | ZCommunications 2014 ( | ( BACK TO TOP ? ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, Ca 94606 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, Ca 94606 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, Ca 94606 882 Cleveland St. #21 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove Oakland Ca 94606 ** follow on Twitter ( ** friend on Facebook ( ** forward to a friend ([UNIQID]) ** Add us to your address book ( ** Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ( ** unsubscribe from this list ([UNIQID]&c=f18293085f) ** update subscription preferences ([UNIQID]) follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) | friend on Facebook (# ) | forward to a friend ( Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. 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The Ash Grove: NY Times: Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

NY Times: Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

This obituary has complementary material and focus than Ross or Democracy Now’s presentations. -Ed

** Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94 ———————————————————— By JON PARELES ( JAN. 28, 2014 Inside View slide show|14 Photos ** Pete Seeger: A Life Lived in the Power of Song ———————————————————— Pete Seeger (, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y. His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama. For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

** Related in Opinion ( ———————————————————— * ** Dot Earth Blog: Pete Seeger is Gone, but His Circles of Song Ring OnJAN. 28, 2014 (

Pete played a concert in Ithaca NY on an extremely cold night in the winter of 1970 at a small hall holding less than 2,000 people. At 11PM,… ** Lance Diskan ———————————————————— 16 minutes ago

No words – even song – can capture the deep, pervasive impact of Pete Seeger’s life on America and our planet. A person of authentic… ** D. Annie ———————————————————— 16 minutes ago

We have lost a fine man. He would want us to pick up and carry on. He wanted us all to sing along, not watch him perform alone. There is… * See All Comments * Write a comment In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem. Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” ( — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” ( which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” ( became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” ( Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew the songs on his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” from Mr. Seeger’s repertoire of traditional music about a turbulent American experience, and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural ( . At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.” Although he recorded more than 100 albums, Mr. Seeger distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom. He invariably tried to use his celebrity to bring attention and contributions to the causes that moved him, or to the traditional songs he wanted to preserve. Mr. Seeger saw himself as part of a continuing folk tradition, constantly recycling and revising music that had been honed by time. During the McCarthy era Mr. Seeger’s political affiliations, including membership in the Communist Party in the 1940s, led to his being blacklisted and later indicted for contempt of Congress. The pressure broke up the Weavers, and Mr. Seeger disappeared from television until the late 1960s. But he never stopped recording, performing and listening to songs from ordinary people. Through the decades, his songs have become part of America’s folklore. “My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” Peter Seeger was born on May 3, 1919, to Charles Seeger, a musicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, a concert violinist. His parents later divorced. He began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a private boarding school in Connecticut. His father and his stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, were collecting and transcribing rural American folk music, as were folklorists like John and Alan Lomax. He heard the five-string banjo, which would become his main instrument, when his father took him to a square-dance festival in North Carolina. Young Pete became enthralled by rural traditions. “I liked the strident vocal tone of the singers, the vigorous dancing,” he is quoted in “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a biography by David Dunaway. “The words of the songs had all the meat of life in them. Their humor had a bite, it was not trivial. Their tragedy was real, not sentimental.” Planning to be a journalist, Mr. Seeger attended Harvard, where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. After two years, he dropped out and came to New York City, where Mr. Lomax introduced him to the blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly. Mr. Lomax also helped Mr. Seeger find a job cataloging and transcribing music at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. Mr. Seeger met Mr. Guthrie, a songwriter who shared his love of vernacular music and agitprop ambitions, in 1940, when they performed at a benefit concert for migrant California workers. Traveling across the United States with Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Seeger picked up some of his style and repertory. He also hitchhiked and hopped freight trains by himself, trading and learning songs. When he returned to New York later in 1940, Mr. Seeger made his first albums. He, Millard Lampell and Mr. Hays founded the Almanac Singers, who performed union songs and, until Germany invaded the Soviet Union, antiwar songs, following the Communist Party line. Mr. Guthrie soon joined the group. During World War II ( the Almanac Singers’s repertory turned to patriotic, antifascist songs, bringing them a broad audience, including a prime-time national radio spot. But the group’s earlier antiwar songs, the target of an F.B.I. investigation, came to light, and the group’s career plummeted. Before the group completely dissolved, however, Mr. Seeger was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a unit of performers. He married Toshi-Aline Ohta while on furlough in 1943. When he returned from the war he founded People’s Songs Inc., which published political songs and presented concerts for several years before going bankrupt. He also started his nightclub career, performing at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. Mr. Seeger and Paul Robeson toured with the campaign of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate, in 1948. Mr. Seeger invested $1,700 in 17 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River in Beacon and began building a log cabin there in the late 1940s. In 1949, Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman started working together as the Weavers. They were signed to Decca Records by Gordon Jenkins, the company’s music director and an arranger for Frank Sinatra. With Mr. Jenkins’s elaborate orchestral arrangements, the group recorded a repertoire that stretched from “If I Had a Hammer” to a South African song, “Wimoweh” (the title was Mr. Seeger’s mishearing of “Mbube,” the name of a South African hit by Solomon Linda), to an Israeli soldiers’ song, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” to a cleaned-up version of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene.” Onstage, they also sang more pointed topical songs. In 1950 and 1951 the Weavers were national stars, with hit singles and engagements at major nightclubs. Their hits included “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Mr. Guthrie’s “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh),” and they sold an estimated four million singles and albums. But “Red Channels,” an influential pamphlet listing performers with suspected Communist ties, appeared in June 1950 and listed Mr. Seeger, although by then he had quit the Communist Party. He would later criticize himself for having not left the party sooner, though he continued to describe himself as a “communist with a small ‘c.’ ” Despite the Weavers’ commercial success, by the summer of 1951 the “Red Channels” citation and leaks from F.B.I. files had led to the cancellation of television appearances. In 1951, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee investigated the Weavers for sedition. And in February 1952, a former member of People’s Songs testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that three of the four Weavers were members of the Communist Party. As engagements dried up the Weavers disbanded, though they reunited periodically in the mid-1950s. After the group recorded an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes, Mr. Seeger left, citing his objection to promoting tobacco use. Shut out of national exposure, Mr. Seeger returned primarily to solo concerts, touring college coffeehouses, churches, schools and summer camps, building an audience for folk music among young people. He started to write a long-running column for the folk-song magazine Sing Out! And he recorded prolifically for the independent Folkways label, singing everything from children’s songs to Spanish Civil War anthems. In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.” Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined. Mr. Seeger was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress. He was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison, but the next year an appeals court dismissed the indictment as faulty. After the indictment, Mr. Seeger’s concerts were often picketed by the John Birch Society and other rightist groups. “All those protests did was sell tickets and get me free publicity,” he later said. “The more they protested, the bigger the audiences became.” By then, the folk revival was prospering. In 1959, Mr. Seeger was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival. The Kingston Trio’s version of Mr. Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reached the Top 40 in 1962, soon followed by Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of “If I Had a Hammer,” which rose to the Top 10. Mr. Seeger was signed to a major label, Columbia Records, in 1961, but he remained unwelcome on network television. “Hootenanny,” an early-1960s show on ABC that capitalized on the folk revival, refused to book Mr. Seeger, causing other performers (including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary) to boycott it. “Hootenanny” eventually offered to present Mr. Seeger if he would sign a loyalty oath. He refused. He toured the world, performing and collecting folk songs, in 1963, and returned to serenade civil rights advocates, who had made a rallying song of his “We Shall Overcome.” Like many of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “We Shall Overcome” had convoluted traditional roots. It was based on old gospel songs, primarily “I’ll Overcome,” a hymn that striking tobacco workers had sung on a picket line in South Carolina. A slower version, “We Will Overcome,” was collected from one of the workers, Lucille Simmons, by Zilphia Horton, the musical director of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., which trained union organizers. Ms. Horton taught it to Mr. Seeger, and her version of “We Will Overcome” was published in the People’s Songs newsletter. Mr. Seeger changed “We will” to “We shall” and added verses (“We’ll walk hand in hand”). He taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton, who would join the Weavers in 1962, and Guy Carawan, who became musical director at Highlander in the ‘50s. Mr. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention. The song was copyrighted by Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Carawan and Ms. Horton. “At that time we didn’t know Lucille Simmons’s name,” Mr. Seeger wrote in his 1993 autobiography, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” All of the song’s royalties go to the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, administered by what is now the Highlander Research and Education Center, which provides grants to African-Americans organizing in the South. Along with many elders of the protest-song movement, Mr. Seeger felt betrayed when Bob Dylan appeared at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a loud electric blues band. Reports emerged that Mr. Seeger had tried to cut the power cable with an ax, but witnesses including the producer George Wein and the festival’s production manager, Joe Boyd (later a leading folk-rock record producer), said he did not go that far. (An ax was available, however. A group of prisoners had used it while singing a logging song.) As the United States grew divided over the Vietnam War, Mr. Seeger wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an antiwar song with the refrain “The big fool says to push on.” He performed the song during a taping of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in September 1967, his return to network television, but it was cut before the show was broadcast. After the Smothers Brothers publicized the censorship, Mr. Seeger returned to perform the song for broadcast in February 1968. During the late 1960s Mr. Seeger started an improbable project: a sailing ship that would crusade for cleaner water on the Hudson River. Between other benefit concerts he raised money to build the Clearwater, a 106-foot sloop that was launched in June 1969 with a crew of musicians. The ship became a symbol and a rallying point for antipollution efforts and education. In May 2009, after decades of litigation and environmental activism led by Mr. Seeger’s nonprofit environmental organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, General Electric began dredging sediment containing PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson. Mr. Seeger and his wife also helped organize a yearly summer folk festival named after the Clearwater. In the ‘80s and ‘90s Mr. Seeger toured regularly with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, and continued to lead singalongs and perform benefit concerts. Recognition and awards arrived. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1993 he was given a lifetime achievement Grammy Award ( . In 1994, President Bill Clinton handed him the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest arts honor, given by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1999, he traveled to Cuba to receive the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest cultural award, for his “humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism.” In 1996, Mr. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” reached No. 1, only to add, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.” Mr. Seeger made no acceptance speech, but he did lead a singalong of “Goodnight, Irene,” flanked by Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and members of the Jefferson Airplane. Mr. Seeger won Grammy Awards for best traditional folk album in 1997, for the album “Pete,” and in 2009, for the album “At 89.” He also won a Grammy in the children’s music category in 2011 for “Tomorrow’s Children.” 195Comments Mr. Seeger kept performing into the 21st century, despite a flagging voice; audiences happily sang along more loudly. He celebrated his 90th birthday, on May 3, 2009, at a Madison Square Garden concert — a benefit for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater — with Mr. Springsteen, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Emmylou Harris and dozens of other musicians paying tribute. In August he was back in Newport for the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival. Mr. Seeger’s wife, Toshi, died in 2013, days before the couple’s 70th anniversary. Survivors include his son, Daniel; his daughters, Mika and Tinya; a half-sister, Peggy; and six grandchildren, including the musician Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, who performed with him at the Obama inaugural. His half-brother Mike Seeger, a folklorist and performer who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009. Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” Gerry Mullany contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Emma G. Fitzsimmons from New York. ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

Pete Seeger RIP

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Pete Seeger RIP Dear Folk Music Friends, The first article below is the excellent AP obituary for Pete Seeger, who passed away last night in New York City at the age of 94. The second article is the notice from the Grammy web site of the first ever Woody Guthrie Prize bestowed by the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma which Pete was scheduled to receive next month in NYC at a ceremony/concert with Arlo Guthrie. Sadly, that event will probably now become a memorial for Pete. I have included all of the photos from both articles. One of his songs is called To My Old Brown Earth, where Pete will now Rest in Peace, Ross Altman Essential News from The Associated Press AAA Jan. 28, 2014 2:25 AM ET Folk singer, activist Pete Seeger dies in NY By MICHAEL HILL ( By MICHAEL HILL File-This Oct. 14, 1994, file photo shows President Clinton presenting folk musician Pete Seeger with a 1994 National Medal of Arts, in Washington at the White House. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette, File) File-This Oct. 14, 1994, file photo shows President Clinton presenting folk musician Pete Seeger with a 1994 National Medal of Arts, in Washington at the White House. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette, File) File- This Feb. 25, 1984, file photo shows folk singer Pete Seeger performing in a one-man benefit concert in Berkeley, Calif., at the Berkeley Community Theater. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/Mark Costantini, File) File-This May 1993 file photo shows Pete Seeger, left, age 74, who hadn’t sung with Burl Ives, right, age 84, for at least 40 years, singing together in rehearsal at New York’s 92nd St., Y. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal, File) File-This May 13, 1975, file photo shows folk singer Pete Seeger, left, performing at the Rally for Détente at Carnegie Hall in New York. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) File-This Aug. 28, 1948, file photo shows Henry A. Wallace, listening to Pete Seeger, his banjo-playing singer, on a plane between Norfolk and Richmond, Va. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94. (AP Photo/File) . . 1 of 5 . . Buy AP Photo Reprints NEW YORK (AP) — Pete Seeger, the banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and star-struck presidents in a career that introduced generations of Americans to their folk music heritage, died Monday at the age of 94. Seeger’s grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson said his grandfather died peacefully in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him. “He was chopping wood 10 days ago,” Cahill-Jackson recalled. Seeger — with his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard — was an iconic figure in folk music. He performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters in his 90s, leaning on two canes. He wrote or co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Turn, Turn, Turn,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” He lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his banjo strapped on. “Be wary of great leaders,” he told The Associated Press two days after a 2011 Manhattan Occupy march. “Hope that there are many, many small leaders.” With The Weavers, a quartet organized in 1948, Seeger helped set the stage for a national folk revival. The group — Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman — churned out hit recordings of “Goodnight Irene,” ”Tzena, Tzena” and “On Top of Old Smokey.” Seeger also was credited with popularizing “We Shall Overcome,” which he printed in his publication “People’s Song,” in 1948. He later said his only contribution to the anthem of the civil rights movement was changing the second word from “will” to “shall,” which he said “opens up the mouth better.” “Every kid who ever sat around a campfire singing an old song is indebted in some way to Pete Seeger,” Arlo Guthrie once said. His musical career was always braided tightly with his political activism, in which he advocated for causes ranging from civil rights to the cleanup of his beloved Hudson River. Seeger said he left the Communist Party around 1950 and later renounced it. But the association dogged him for years. He was kept off commercial television for more than a decade after tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. Repeatedly pressed by the committee to reveal whether he had sung for Communists, Seeger responded sharply: “I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American.” He was charged with contempt of Congress, but the sentence was overturned on appeal. Seeger called the 1950s, years when he was denied broadcast exposure, the high point of his career. He was on the road touring college campuses, spreading the music he, Guthrie, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter and others had created or preserved. “The most important job I did was go from college to college to college to college, one after the other, usually small ones,” he told The Associated Press in 2006. ” … And I showed the kids there’s a lot of great music in this country they never played on the radio.” His scheduled return to commercial network television on the highly rated Smothers Brothers variety show in 1967 was hailed as a nail in the coffin of the blacklist. But CBS cut out his Vietnam protest song, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” and Seeger accused the network of censorship. He finally got to sing it five months later in a stirring return appearance, although one station, in Detroit, cut the song’s last stanza: “Now every time I read the papers/That old feelin’ comes on/We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy/And the big fool says to push on.” Seeger’s output included dozens of albums and single records for adults and children. He also was the author or co-author of “American Favorite Ballads,” ”The Bells of Rhymney,” ”How to Play the Five-String Banjo,” ”Henscratches and Flyspecks,” ”The Incompleat Folksinger,” ”The Foolish Frog” and “Abiyoyo,” ”Carry It On,” ”Everybody Says Freedom” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He appeared in the movies “To Hear My Banjo Play” in 1946 and “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon” in 1970. A reunion concert of the original Weavers in 1980 was filmed as a documentary titled “Wasn’t That a Time.” By the 1990s, no longer a party member but still styling himself a communist with a small C, Seeger was heaped with national honors. Official Washington sang along — the audience must sing, was the rule at a Seeger concert — when it lionized him at the Kennedy Center in 1994. President Clinton hailed him as “an inconvenient artist who dared to sing things as he saw them.” Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 as an early influence. Ten years later, Bruce Springsteen honored him with “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” a rollicking reinterpretation of songs sung by Seeger. While pleased with the album, Seeger said he wished it was “more serious.” A 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden to mark Seeger’s 90th birthday featured Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder and Emmylou Harris among the performers. Seeger was a 2014 Grammy Awards nominee in the Best Spoken Word category, which was won by Stephen Colbert. Seeger’s sometimes ambivalent relationship with rock was most famously on display when Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Witnesses say Seeger became furious backstage as the amped-up band played, though just how furious is debated. Seeger dismissed the legendary tale that he looked for an ax to cut Dylan’s sound cable, and said his objection was not to the type of music but only that the guitar mix was so loud you couldn’t hear Dylan’s words. Seeger maintained his reedy 6-foot-2 frame into old age, though he wore a hearing aid and conceded that his voice was pretty much shot. He relied on his audiences to make up for his diminished voice, feeding his listeners the lines and letting them sing out. “I can’t sing much,” he said. “I used to sing high and low. Now I have a growl somewhere in between.” Nonetheless, in 1997 he won a Grammy for best traditional folk album, “Pete.” Seeger was born in New York City on May 3, 1919, into an artistic family whose roots traced to religious dissenters of colonial America. His mother, Constance, played violin and taught; his father, Charles, a musicologist, was a consultant to the Resettlement Administration, which gave artists work during the Depression. His uncle Alan Seeger, the poet, wrote “I Have a Rendezvous With Death.” Pete Seeger said he fell in love with folk music when he was 16, at a music festival in North Carolina in 1935. His half brother, Mike Seeger, and half sister, Peggy Seeger, also became noted performers. He learned the five-string banjo, an instrument he rescued from obscurity and played the rest of his life in a long-necked version of his own design. On the skin of Seeger’s banjo was the phrase, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” — a nod to his old pal Guthrie, who emblazoned his guitar with “This machine kills fascists.” Dropping out of Harvard in 1938 after two years as a disillusioned sociology major, he hit the road, picking up folk tunes as he hitchhiked or hopped freights. “The sociology professor said, ‘Don’t think that you can change the world. The only thing you can do is study it,'” Seeger said in October 2011. In 1940, with Guthrie and others, he was part of the Almanac Singers and performed benefits for disaster relief and other causes. He and Guthrie also toured migrant camps and union halls. He sang on overseas radio broadcasts for the Office of War Information early in World War II. In the Army, he spent 3½ years in Special Services, entertaining soldiers in the South Pacific, and made corporal. Pete and Toshi Seeger were married July 20, 1943. The couple built their cabin in Beacon after World War II and stayed on the high spot of land by the Hudson River for the rest of their lives together. The couple raised three children. Toshi Seeger died in July at age 91. The Hudson River was a particular concern of Seeger. He took the sloop Clearwater, built by volunteers in 1969, up and down the Hudson, singing to raise money to clean the water and fight polluters. He also offered his voice in opposition to racism and the death penalty. He got himself jailed for five days for blocking traffic in Albany in 1988 in support of Tawana Brawley, a black teenager whose claim of having been raped by white men was later discredited. He continued to take part in peace protests during the war in Iraq, and he continued to lend his name to causes. “Can’t prove a damn thing, but I look upon myself as old grandpa,” Seeger told the AP in 2008 when asked to reflect on his legacy. “There’s not dozens of people now doing what I try to do, not hundreds, but literally thousands. … The idea of using music to try to get the world together is now all over the place.” ___ Associated Press writer John Rogers in Los Angeles and Mary Esch in Saratoga Springs in contributed to this report. Associated Press ( Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ( © Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. © Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. The Woody Guthrie Prize event The Woody Guthrie Prize thumbnail tickets Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space Sat, Feb 22, 2014 8:00pm buy now ( ( . For more information on the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie, please visit ( . multimedia ** Photos (6) ———————————————————— ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Pussy Riot revolution-‘Words Will Break Cement’

———————————————————— The Ash Grove The Pussy Riot revolution-‘Words Will Break Cement’ BOOK REVIEW ** ‘Words Will Break Cement’ documents the Pussy Riot revolution ———————————————————— ** Masha Gessen’s new book about Pussy Riot explores the story behind the Russian guerrilla girls’ protest movement. ————————————————————,0,5868355.story#ixzz2r8ofav5w Pussy Riot rehearsal Members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot during a rehearsal in Moscow, February 2012. (ANNA VOLKOVA / EPA / February 10, 2012) By Sara Marcus LA Times: January 19, 2014 The video went viral in early 2012: a handful of performers in bright dresses and colored balaclavas doing high kicks in a Moscow cathedral, shouting in rhythm, as dark-suited men dragged them away one by one. The feminist art collective the world now knows as Pussy Riot had been mounting guerrilla happenings around Moscow for less than a year, and the performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was in many ways typical: a surprise takeover in a public place, stage-managed for maximum YouTube mileage, with synchronized dance moves and lyrics that careened between obscenities, feminist battle cries, and calls of support for the anti-Putin protest movement that had finally erupted in December 2011. For years, Russians had seemed complacent about the country’s stratification of wealth, widespread government corruption and Putin’s unending stranglehold on power. But in the wake of the Arab Spring, the country was beginning to wake up, and Pussy Riot was there to incite. “Time to learn to occupy squares / Power to the masses,” went a characteristic couplet; they sang that one from a rooftop next to a jail full of locked-up activists. Within a year, they would themselves become some of the world’s most famous political prisoners. In “Words Will Break Cement,” the first book about Pussy Riot, Russian American journalist Masha Gessen tells the story of this band of young women who pushed an autocratic regime into overplaying its hand and made feminist art into a matter of geopolitical significance. Pussy Riot formed in 2011 out of the ashes of an earlier art collective named Voina (War); a few women from Voina broke off in order to create something explicitly feminist, inspired by the simple provocations of punk rock, the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement, and feminist artists like Karen Finley. The new collective’s performances highlighted sexist and anti-LGBT dimensions of political repression, an approach that now looks prophetic in light of Russia’s recent antigay legislation. Pussy Riot’s cathedral performance was intended to denounce the cozy relationship between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church. In early 2012, the church’s leader — Patriarch Kirill, a rumored KGB agent with a $30,000 wristwatch — praised Putin and told his followers not to attend demonstrations; other priests, too, instructed their congregants to shun marches. Shouting their “Punk Prayer,” Pussy Riot retorted: “Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!” The prayer, cut short by security guards, lasted just 40 seconds, but the music reverberated much longer: Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested shortly afterward, convicted of “criminal hooliganism,” and sentenced to two years in prison. The group that had once obsessed over finding the perfect angle for their online videos had now been handed a starker image of Russian repression than they ever could have devised themselves, and news outlets around the world ran courtroom footage of these articulate, attractive young women locked in an airless Plexiglas cage while prosecutors denounced them for blasphemy. The spectacle of Russian authorities shipping artists off to labor camps had a disturbingly familiar ring to it. Instead of silencing criticism of the regime, the prosecution of Pussy Riot turned the group into a global cause célèbre, with figures from Madonna to Obama coming to their defense. Late this past December, Putin granted the imprisoned Pussy Rioters an early release, part of a transparent attempt to rehabilitate Russia’s image before the Winter Olympic Games, but the gesture was too little and too late. Not just a keen observer of these events, Gessen’s also an impassioned partisan. Her damning Putin biography, “The Man Without a Face,” came out in 2012, and she ran a protest clearinghouse in Moscow. “Words Will Break Cement” is written in a dry, raised-eyebrow deadpan, which allows post-Soviet repression to indict itself and adeptly captures the bluster and headiness of activist idealism. Gessen begins with the back stories of the three arrested women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich (Kat). Gessen interviewed Nadya and Maria through the mail while they were locked up, and went along on a family visit to Nadya in prison; she had unlimited access only to Kat, a perplexing figure who received a suspended sentence on appeal (her lawyer pointed out that guards had seized her before she could sing a word) and has since kept a low profile. Gessen fills in the blanks with detailed reminiscences from the members’ relatives and friends, and she traces their routes to radicalism — Kat through a passion for photography and an awareness of election fraud, Maria through a pragmatic and deeply felt environmentalism, Nadya through Western critical theory and Russian poetry. Gessen is not just asking how these women came to form Pussy Riot, or how they came to be punished so severely for making protest art. She’s also asking what makes great political art, and proposing that art and truth-telling have the power to defeat oppressive regimes (as the title, a quote from Nadya paraphrasing Solzhenitsyn, suggests). Pussy Riot’s actions often looked and sounded adolescent and slapdash, as most of the best punk rock always has. Gessen implies that these qualities may be particularly well suited to countering entrenched doublespeak. “In really scary societies,” she writes, “all public conversation is an exercise in using words to mean their opposites.” Confronting these lies can be, she suggests, the most effective way to fight back. The book’s account of the Pussy Riot trial reads like absurdist drama. To prove the women’s supposed anti-Orthodox hatred, the prosecution discusses their hem lengths and the speed with which they crossed themselves. A witness, having described their “devilish jerkings,” is asked on cross-examination, “How does the victim know how the devil jerks?” Maria and Nadya are sent to penal colonies, whereupon absurdity yields to plain cruelty: They are fed rotten food, housed in filth, and forced to sew in sweatshops for 12 to 16 hours a day. Maria’s campaigns to defend inmates’ rights in her colony find some success, but Nadya’s efforts only cause her fellow prisoners to ostracize her; one guard hints threateningly that she might get killed. By the end of the book, Nadya has been transferred to a prison hospital in Siberia, gravely ill after weeks on a hunger strike to bring attention to the colony’s inhumane conditions. The statement she smuggled out before being hospitalized is, as Gessen wrote in Slate ( , “probably the most detailed and searing expose of Russian prison conditions since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago.’” If journalism is the rough draft of history, then books rushed into print to keep up with events — as this one was — constitute an early and provisional edit. Still, “Words Will Break Cement” is the fullest account so far of the Pussy Riot story, richer and more deeply informed than last year’s workmanlike HBO documentary “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.” Gessen’s extensive knowledge of Russian art, literature and political dissent helps contextualize the group’s work and its persecution in a way that has rarely been seen until now. She ably illustrates the influence of Moscow Conceptualist poetry and contemporary protest movements on Pussy Riot’s combination of aesthetics and politics, and she argues for their case as a troubling return of Soviet-style show trials. How Pussy Riot will affect Russian politics in the future is an open question. But the group has already succeeded in dramatizing the very repression they were seeking to expose. In addition, their time in prison has changed them from brash Internet stars into thoughtful, strategic organizers. Their story is a moving object lesson in the power of art — perhaps especially messy and exuberant art — to rise above repression and have the last, cement-breaking word. Marcus is the author of “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.” ———————————————————— Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot Masha Gessen Riverhead: 320 pp., $16 paper ———————————————————— Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

Dr. Martin Lugher King, Jr. 1929-1968

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 Hi. This morning’s Democracy Now repeats the show that provides the text below. The accompanying graphics are amazing; heart-wrenching, and then exalting. If you lived the era they will move you deeply, as they will inspire younger people. Click on the url just below and watch it on your computer or watch it on tv in today’s several repetitions. Commemorate this, a true holiday. -Ed ( ** Democracy Now ! 18 January 2010 ———————————————————— ** Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968 ———————————————————— “The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality—and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.” “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ” AMY GOODMAN: Today is a federal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4th, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just thirty-nine years old. More than four decades after Dr. King’s death, Barack Obama took his oath of office to become the forty-fourth president of the United States and the first African American president in US history. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man, whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant, can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. AMY GOODMAN: Obama accepted the Democratic Party nomination on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream. AMY GOODMAN: While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of US foreign policy and the Vietnam War. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, which he delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967, a year-to-the-day before he was assassinated, Dr. King called the United States, quote, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post said King, quote, “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” Today, we’ll let you decide. We play an excerpt of Dr. King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam.” REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: After 1954, they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. And they remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South, until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the President claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than 8,000 miles away from its shores. At this point, I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else, for it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after the short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long, they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America, who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on, the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism,” unquote. We continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement. Part of our ongoing—part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under the new regime, which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task, while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. Now, there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality—and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression, which has now has justified the presence of US military “advisers” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago, he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York, explaining why he opposed the war in Vietnam. We’ll come back to this speech and then play another. You can get a copy of our show at Today, Dr. Martin Luther King, in his own words. Back in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Mahalia Jackson, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” Dr. King’s favorite song. This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam.” It was April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism. With this powerful commitment, we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.” A genuine revolution of values means, in the final analysis, that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft-misunderstood, this oft-misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response, I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I’m speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the First Epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says, “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word,” unquote. We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam writes, “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now, let us begin. Now, let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history. As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated: Once to every man and nation Comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth and falsehood, For the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, Off’ring each the bloom or blight, And the choice goes by forever Twixt that darkness and that light. Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet ‘tis truth alone is strong; Though her portion be the scaffold, And upon the throne be wrong: Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow Keeping watch above his own. And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4th, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York, explaining why he opposed the war in Vietnam, the speech delivered exactly a year-to-the-day before he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968. The night before he died, Dr. King delivered his last major address. He was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers as he built momentum for a Poor People’s March on Washington. This is some of Dr. King’s last speech, “I Have Been to the Mountain Top.” REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through—or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire, and I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863 and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the early ’30s and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation and come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But I wouldn’t stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: “We want to be free!” And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis. I can remember—I can remember when Negroes were just going around, as Ralph has said, so often scratching where they didn’t itch and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world. And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying—we are saying that we are God’s children. And if we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live. Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, April 3rd, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. We’ll come back to this speech in Memphis, Tennessee in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Nina Simone singing “Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)” This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue with Dr. King’s speech the night before he was assassinated, April 3rd, 1968. It was a rainy night in Memphis, Tennessee. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come. But we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn’t stop us. And we just went on before the dogs, and we would look at them; and we’d go on before the water hoses, and we would look at it. And we’d just go on singing, “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ’em off,” and they did. And we would just go on in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.” And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to, and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now, let me say, as I move to my conclusion, that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school, be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together. Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base. Now, that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air and placed it on the dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou” and to be concerned about his brother. Now, you know we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem—or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association. That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect. But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1,200 miles—or rather 1,200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2,200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight, not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?” not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question. You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it, I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the x-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood; that’s the end of you. It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheelchair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.” And she said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.” And I want to say tonight—I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze, because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed—if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama aroused the conscience of this nation and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama to see the great movement there. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze. And they were telling me—now, it doesn’t matter now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully, and we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.” And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord! AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King. Within twenty-four hours, he would be dead, assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel April 4th, 1968. Today is the federal holiday that honors him. Related stories * Vietnam Vet, Scholar Andrew Bacevich on Obama War Plan: “The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War” ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Ash Grove: Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen”

———————————————————— Daily Digest Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen” Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen” Democracy Now: January 14, 2014 ** Guest:Erin Brockovich ( , renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the major chemical spill in the Elk River, West Virginia ———————————————————— AARON MATÉ: West Virginia has begun partially lifting its ban on tap water five days after a chemical spill in the Elk River. More than 300,000 residents have been unable to use their water for drinking, cooking or bathing since Thursday, when the company Freedom Industries leaked up to 7,500 gallons of MCHM, an agent used in coal extraction. Scores of schools and businesses have been closed, including in the state capital, Charleston. On Monday, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced chemical levels in the water supply are approaching safe levels, but said some residents will be without water for several more days. GOV. EARL RAY TOMBLIN: The numbers we have today look good, and we’re finally at a point where the do-not-use order has been lifted in certain areas. In these specific areas, flushing can begin. We’ve made a lot of progress, but I ask all West Virginians to continue to be patient as we work to safely restore service to the affected areas. AARON MATÉ: The ban has now been lifted in four zones but is still in effect for a vast majority of residents. Dozens of people have been hospitalized since the spill. As of Monday, at least 18 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom Industries and the water treatment company, American Water. AMY GOODMAN: The spill is also having repercussions beyond West Virginia. The Elk River feeds into the Ohio River, prompting areas of Kentucky and Ohio to shut down their water valves to avoid contamination. The Freedom Industries site behind the spill is just a mile upriver from the state’s largest water treatment plant, owned by American Water. But despite the obvious dangers to the source of 16 percent of West Virginia’s water supply, the spill has exposed major holes in how West Virginia regulates the dangerous chemicals used in its leading industry, coal. The chemical, MCHM, does not receive close federal or state oversight. Environmental inspectors have not visited the Freedom Industries facility since 1991. Under West Virginia law, chemicals storage facilities are not even subject to inspections. The plant also had no groundwater protection plan in place. In a minute, we’ll go to Charleston, West Virginia, to speak with Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. While a single mother of three working as a legal assistant, she helped win the biggest class action lawsuit in American history. The suit was against a multi-billion-dollar corporation, the California power company Pacific Gas & Electric, for polluting a city’s water supply. Her story was told in the Oscar-winning film starring Julia Roberts in 2000 called, well, Erin Brockovich. Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the major chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia. On Monday evening, she held a town hall meeting in Charleston to discuss the spill with local residents. ERIN BROCKOVICH: We have found out that the last inspection that was done on this company and that tank farm was in 1991. AMY GOODMAN: That was Erin Brockovich speaking to West Virginia residents in a town hall meeting Monday night, joining us now from Charleston, West Virginia. We’re also joined in Washington by Mike Elk, labor reporter for In These Times. He has extensively covered chemical regulation in the United States, including at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant where 15 people died in an explosion last year. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s start with Erin Brockovich. You held this town hall meeting last night. What did you find? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Hi, good morning. How are you? AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. ERIN BROCKOVICH: You know what? We were glad we got the town hall together on extremely short notice, because we weren’t even sure if we’d have a facility here. And for the folks that came out, you know, I actually heard numerous stories that were disturbing at many levels, but they were mostly very calm. They were frustrated. They really felt a sense that they couldn’t get through to anybody to give them further explanations, and they had many, many questions that were excellent, that needed answering. I think a couple of things that really startled me were photos that people had taken as the water had come on, the color. There was great concern from people whose water had already come on, the smell. They said that it was pretty overpowering. Nobody told them about that. They were having to open windows, put up fans, just to get the odor out. There was concerns of people who work with homeless groups that had not been getting bottled water, and they were asking questions about—they had been bathing in it because no one sent them bottled water. They had burns on their face. There were people who were showering at the time that still have like some open sores on their heads, who did drink the water before the shutdown that still have some open wounds in their throat. So I think that, you know, as in every single case I’m involved in, there’s just a great deal of information down on the ground with folks that we really don’t know about, we really don’t talk much about. And after, you know, everything’s said and done and everyone goes home, they’re still left with a whole host of problems that they find it difficult to get help with. AARON MATÉ: Erin, based on your past experience with a major company polluting a city’s water supply, I’m wondering if you had any advice for West Virginia residents? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Well, we talked about that last night, and, yes, I do. You know, I’ve zigzagged across the United States since that film came out 20-some years ago, and we run into situations like this every single day, just not to the magnitude of a municipality being impacted and 300,000 people being rendered with no water. And one thing is organization. I think—I don’t think, I see communities just feel helpless. They don’t know how to get through to their local legislators. If they do, you know, they get passed from one person to another. They can’t get through. When there’s a crisis, we all know it’s very difficult to get through. You can wait and wait and wait. And they just feel like there’s nothing they can do. But we have observed, in this new world of social technology, they’re actually very quite savvy on how they’re going to exchange information, where they’re going to learn information. There was people last night in the group that have already started their own Facebook pages. They’re connecting with other Facebook people now. They’re able to see what’s going on. They can reach out more to their community, even if they’re not in the community right at the moment. And they’re helping themselves, and they’re gathering information from one who did hear or got through to an agency, and this is what they told them, and they post that. So, they’re banding together stronger than I’ve ever seen it before. And I think that’s something that’s very helpful to them to stay informed, because when we have information, that’s empowering to us, because we’re able to better have control over our situation and what happens to us. So that is one thing that I observed again last night that in Hinkley was the same way, but it was a smaller group. You know, it was the 634 staying together that really made a difference. And when you get thousands upon thousands, it’s difficult for them to stay together. But they are doing it through social media. They will text each other. They will read something get on Facebook. And it helps them not to have to go through that frustration of “Why is nobody getting back to me?” AMY GOODMAN: Erin Brockovich, I want to play a clip of the president of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern, being confronted by Kallie Cart, a reporter for local ABC affiliate WCHS. GARY SOUTHERN: Look, guys, it has been an extremely long day. I’m having a hard—trouble talking at the moment. I would appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up. I will— KALLIE CART: Well, we have a lot—we actually have a lot of questions. GARY SOUTHERN: OK. KALLIE CART: And it’s been a long day for a lot of people who don’t have water. So, can you give us an exact timeline as to how this all happened? The DEP was saying earlier today, as early as 8:15 yesterday morning they were getting reports and that you all did not call it in until 12:00 noon. The DEP was already here at 11:15. So what’s the timeline on all this? GARY SOUTHERN: We were aware of the leaking storage tank around 10:30. We load tank trucks of this material on a regular basis, and occasionally we’ve had reports of an odor previously. So, we were first aware of any material being spilled at 10:30 yesterday. KALLIE CART: Could it have been earlier than yesterday? Because we’ve also received reports into our newsroom that it was as early as Wednesday, possibly Tuesday, people were starting to smell this in the area. GARY SOUTHERN: We have no information on that. KALLIE CART: Are there no systems in place to alert you of a leak at your facility other than a smell? GARY SOUTHERN: At this moment in time, I think that’s all we have time for. So, thanks for coming. Thanks for your time. KALLIE CART: We have more questions. Hey, hey, hey! No, we’re not done. GARY SOUTHERN: You’re not done. KALLIE CART: We’re not done, no. Anyone else have any other questions? AMY GOODMAN: That is the president of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern, being confronted by a local reporter in Charleston, West Virginia, as he’s drinking bottled water. It sounds a little reminiscent of the former BP CEO, Tony Hayward, in 2010 after the Gulf oil spill, as he drew attention to his own suffering. TONY HAYWARD: We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. And, you know, we’re—there’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back. AMY GOODMAN: He wanted his life back. Well, let’s stay in Charleston, West Virginia, with Erin Brockovich. This company—we just heard Mr. Southern, the president of the company. I’m looking at Paul Barrett’s piece ( in Businessweek, “Meet Freedom Industries, the Company Behind the West Virginia Chemical Spill.” “How long has this outfit been around?” he says. “About two weeks, in its current form. Freedom Industries is the product of a merger effective Dec. 31, 2013, that combined Etowah River Terminal, the facility where the leak occurred, Crete Technologies, and Poca Blending, located in nearby Nitro. A predecessor company called Freedom Industries was formed in 1986, according to [our] colleagues at Bloomberg News. How the pieces of the newly formed mini-conglomerate fit together merits urgent inquiry, as does the question of whether there’s any connection between the corporate mash-up and the fateful opening of a one-inch hole that allowed a noxious chemical to escape.” Trying to get behind who is behind Freedom Industries and Gary Southern—does this sound familiar to you, Erin Brockovich? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Well, I mean, oh, my gosh, I wouldn’t know necessarily where to begin. I mean, we deal with so many companies, you know, across the board. Yes. I mean, a lot of things sound familiar. The main one is this laissez-faire attitude that has set in on safety, and across the board. I mean, we could talk about the Tennessee Valley Authority breach we were involved in, the situation with Texas Brine and the sinkhole. You brought up BP. You know, now we have this situation in West Virginia. And these are ones of large magnitude that we really get to take a scope and look at. And sometimes it’s frustrating because I’m not sure we learn anything. And I think we’re at a real critical point where we’re going to have to begin to change how we do business and how we operate these facilities, because they’re everywhere. And so, it is definitely something that we have seen before, their—a great deal of arrogance, not wanting to answer, especially a direct point, that “Were you overseeing? Why is it you didn’t know?” Well, you didn’t know because nobody was tending the farm, if you will. So, there is this almost mentality that we have seen—we’ve seen it with PG&E—that, you know, “I don’t know. We’re untouchable. I’m not going to give you any answers. I really don’t have to.” So, we have seen this type of mentality consistently in most of the work that we’ve done. AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion with Erin Brockovich, who’s talking to us from West Virginia’s capital. Yes, she is the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate, well known because of the film by the same name, Erin Brockovich played by Julia Roberts, and for her remarkable work taking on Pacific Electric—Gas & Electric, winning an unprecedented settlement of $333 million for the people of a town that had a similar situation, but talking about contaminated water. And we’ll be joined by Mike Elk of In These Times. Stay with us. Show Full Transcript › ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

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