Thank You Anne Braden
Thanks so much to everyone for coming out to celebrate tonight. when we celebrate tonight, we are celebrating our communities who give us the love and care that sustains us. your support has made these four month of intense learning and possible and it is your love that will sustain our work for collective liberation for days, months and years to come.
when i was thinking about how to sum up this experience i realized that Anne Braden says what i feel so well that i am going to share a quote with you from her memoir, The Wall Between.
“Until a huge new crusade for racial justice develops, the white people who today are asking, “What can I do” — and there are many of them– can help hasten that day by taking visible stands against specific manifestations of racism in their communities. In so doing, they create a break in what sometimes seems to be a solid wall of white resistance to justice– and often even a refusal to admit that a problem still exists. It helps to create a pole to which other whites can gravitate when the times comes that they realize they must act. We need to create in our communities what I call an “antiracist majority.” Today we hear much talk about the need for “dialogue.” That is all right, but dialogue alone, without visible action, will not move us toward real change.
Unfortunately, it is not likely that white people in significant numbers will take such action on their own initiative. They will do it as they began to do in the 1960s when organized mass movements of people of color forced them to face unpleasant truths…
Mass movements always come as the product of long years of mundane work by unsung heroes, but no one can predict when the upsurge will crystallize. No one could have predicted that it would happen in 1955 in Montgomery. We cannot predict today when it will happen again, and I am not at all sure I will live to see it. But as surely as I know the dawn will come tomorrow morning, I am convinced that it will happen. And when it does, a huge question will be how many white people will understand that this upsurge holds hope for their lives, too, and will therefore go through the personal metamorphosis that will be needed to join this new movement.
In the meantime, we do have control over the space we choose to occupy as long as the struggle goes on. Sometimes people ask me how I’ve manged to stay active so long for the things I believe in. My first answer is that I don’t understand how anyone can “drop out” as long as the need is there. Carl used to paraphrase the Bible and say, “When you put your hand to the plow, you cannot look back.” I think that this is true. But I’ve never felt that I was making any particular sacrifice; in all the movements in which I have been involved, I’ve gained much more, spiritually, that I was able to give. I’ve lived my life as I’ve wanted to live it, and it has been filled with a special kind of joy…
Since then, I’ve been a member of many organizations, but what I really felt I joined, and have never left, is [this] “other America.” Everyone needs roots, a home. I had to separate myself from roots in the corrupt society I was born into; I found a new home in the “other America.” in its current incarnation in the social justice movements of my time, and in the sense of connection to a past and future. More than anything else, this sense of home and this connection have given me the strength to keep going, feeling that in my small way I am part of a long chain of humanity, a chain of struggle that stretches far into the past, long before I was here, and will go into the future, long after I’m gone.
I believe that in this society– shot through with injustice as it is– this “other America” is the only place where one can live a fulfilling life.”
Thank you Anne Braden!
Now we would like to honor all of the care and work that the Anne Braden leadership team put in to this program, starting years ago- i don’t even know for how long!- before this program even began to create such a positive, challenging and successful space for us. Someone in the program used the analogy of little growing plants for us. each person in the leadership team tended to each and everyone of us like a sweet gardener to plants, so tenderly, lovingly and thoughtfully. so we are going to present each person from catalyst with a different plant that together will form the garden of resistance that we are growing together here in the Bay Area.