March 7, 2014

Why We March to Fight KXL And Remembering Those Who Marched Before Us

372 On March 7, 1965 in Selma, Alabama police attacked six hundred peaceful protesters as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama protesting the murder of Jimmie Jackson. The power of the protesters on this day and the image of their courage amidst the brutality of those police officers are etched in the memory of the fight for Civil Rights.  But more importantly it is a memory and act that provides the foundation for uprisings that we see taking place around the world right now, even if you don’t know it.

Today I marched with protesters against KXL to the State Department as I did on March 2 with XL Dissent to the White House, there were no dogs or hostile police, but the urgency of what we were marching for, the message that we were carrying to President Obama and Secretary Kerry to Reject KXL reminded me of those 600 peaceful courageous people standing up and marching forward to be seen and to be heard to change the world that they lived in to be better.

Standing in a crowd shouting 1. We are the people 2. We are united 3. We will not let you build this pipeline was empowering and humbling on this day in particular. On those rare occasions where the stars align and the dates of movements intersect it reinforces for me that we are on the right side of history. The fights of the past are the foundation that allows us to continue the fight today. 

We march because we have a message, we shout because our voices need to and shall be heard, we are jailed to show our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for what we believe in, we push for more change because we have yet to perfect our society, and we remember our past because it has shaped our present as we hope to shape the future. 

The rallies, marches, sit-ins, stand-ups and occupations are what we do to tell the other story that is often ignored. In 1965 the protesters marched for justice for Jimmie Lee Jackson, who died because of the color of his skin. They were telling his story because it was their own; a true story of brutality, racism and oppression.  The story that we are telling is the true story of this moment of the marginalized and oppressed communities that are impacted in devastating ways from Tar Sands and corporate greed. We are telling the story of the earth that we are stewards of not owners of. We are telling the story of the future that we know can exist and will exist if we say no to fossil fuel and Reject KXL.

374 DOS Delivery Rally photo credit Kristina BanksWe celebrate the struggle because without it we cannot win. We honor the past because without it we would not know the way forward. We value our present because without it we cannot change the world. 

Remember those who struggled for justice before us. I remember the six hundred protesters from forty-nine years ago. It is a reminder of how far we still have to go. Today I honor their work that has shaped our work in the struggle against environmental injustice.  What we do is not in vein because 1. We are the people 2. We are united 3. We will not let them build this pipeline!