“If I Had A Hammer” by Pete Seeger & Lee Hays

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U.S. Post-Election 2016 – Stop Hate Crimes – Muslim Lives Matter
Photo Credit: Quartz.com

 

In keeping with my end-of-year tradition, I feature a song on my Poetry Corner December 2016. Bob Dylan’s award of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature prompted my choice. In the uncanny way that our memory weaves songs and events into our lived experiences, the song “If I Had A Hammer” forced its way to the frontline and hammered for attention. I discovered that Bob Dylan didn’t write this song. We owe this tribute to America’s folk singers and social activists Pete Seeger and Lee Hays who wrote and recorded it in 1949.

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Owing to the political controversy surrounding the lyrics and Seeger’s connection with the Communist Party, the song disappeared from public radio and TV. But folk songs with an enduring message never die.

During the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam War rallies of the 1960s, the song surfaced anew. With a new melody and the harmonized voices of the folk singing trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, the song soared to the #10 position of the top charts in October 1962. Eleven months later, the Latin-tempo rendition by Trini Lopez catapulted the song to #3.

I was a kid when the song hit the top charts in my home-town Georgetown in what was then British Guiana. With its feisty beat and repetitive lyrics, the song became an instant hit among us kids. We banged out the rhythm with sticks on pots and other makeshift drums.

It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom
It’s a song about love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land

The years leading up to our country’s independence from Great Britain in May 1966 were dark days in our small world on the shores of South America. On winning the 1961 General Elections, the East Indian left-wing socialist party gained the right to lead the colony to independence. This development troubled Uncle Sam. After Fidel Castro had seized power in Cuba, the Americans feared the spread of communism in their backyard. Those were the days of Cold War I.

With financial support from Uncle Sam, the opposition parties incited demonstrations and strikes across the country. The fire that razed the capital’s commercial district on February 16, 1962, was just the beginning of the racial/ethnic struggle between the leadership of the majority black and East Indian populations for supremacy in the emerging nation.

Today in America, our President-elect has unleashed the demons of bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia all over this land. The struggle continues. Once again, we must hammer out our need for justice, freedom, and love.

See the complete song “If I Had A Hammer,” learn more about Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, and listen to Trini Lopez’s rendition of the song at my Poetry Corner December 2016.

Our Sacred Responsibility as Human Beings

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Protesters demonstrate against the Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation
North Dakota – United States – September 9, 2016
Photo Credit: Andrew Cullen / Reuters

 

My third quote for the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge – an invitation from British author and blogger Frank Parker – comes from Tom Goldtooth, a Native American environmental leader and executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) since 1996. It’s an excerpt from his keynote address, “The Sacredness of Mother Earth,” at the Bioneers National Conference held on October 18-20, 2013.

The European concept of the natural world which has become a dominant concept worldwide – where knowledge and culture are property, with the attitude that commodities are to be exploited freely and bought and sold at will – has resulted in disharmony between beings and the natural world, as well as the current environmental crisis threatening all life. This concept is totally incompatible with the traditional indigenous worldview… Our sacred responsibility is to safeguard and protect this world. Human beings are not separate from the natural world but were created to live in an integral relationship with it. That’s what we have to offer. Continue reading

“Our Flag is Education”

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Military police in high school occupied by students in São Paulo – Brazil
Photo Credit: Agência Brasil Fotografias/Jacobin Magazine

 

My second quote for the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge – an invitation from British author and blogger Frank Parker – comes from Ana Júlia Ribeiro, a sixteen-year-old, public high school student in Curitiba, capital of the State of Paraná in South Brazil. It’s an excerpt from her ten-minute impassioned address before the Paraná State Assembly on October 26, 2016, in defense of the student occupation of their high schools.

Our flag is Education. Our only flag is Education. We’re a nonpartisan movement. We’re a movement by students and for students. We’re a movement that cares about future generations. A movement that’s concerned about society. Concerned about the future of the country. What future will Brazil have if it doesn’t want a whole generation to develop critical thinking? People must have a political, critical sense. People shouldn’t just believe any stuff they read. We must know what we are reading. We must stand against functional illiteracy which is a major problem in Brazil today. That’s why we are here, and that’s why we have occupied our schools. That’s why we have raised the flag of Education.

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A Mouth Is Always Muzzled

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I thank Frank Parker, a former engineer and author of five self-published books who blogs from Ireland at http://franklparker.com/, for nominating me to take up the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge.

The rules of the challenge are:

  • Three quotes for three days.
  • Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Inform the nominees.

Due to time constraints, I will not be posting my quotes on three consecutive days, but rather one a week on Sunday. In keeping with the vision of my blog, I will share quotes from a Guyanese, Brazilian, and an American.

My first quote is taken from the 1969 poem, “A Mouth Is Always Muzzled,” by the social-political Guyanese poet Martin Carter (1927-1997).

But a mouth is always muzzled
by the food it eats to live.

The young Martin Carter came to maturity as a political activist during Guyana’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. While campaigning for the colony’s first mass-based, multi-ethnic, democratically-elected government, the young poet used his street corner meetings to educate his listeners about their social and economic condition and to bring together workers of different ethnicity. Continue reading

On Gratitude by Brazilian Poet Maria Cristina Gama de Figueiredo

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Cavalo Pavão (Peacock Horse) 1998
Oil Painting by Maria Cristina Gama de Figeiredo
Photo Credit: CristinaGamaEscritora Blogspot

 

My Poetry Corner November 2016 features a poem on gratitude by Brazilian poet, painter, and philosopher Maria Cristina Gama de Figueiredo (1964-2010), born in Aracaju, the capital of Sergipe in Northeast Brazil.

Very little about the life of the poet is available online. She died at the relatively young age of forty-six years. Newspaper articles about her passing don’t state the cause of death. Her producer for more than twelve years defined her “as a restless soul who managed to transform her pain into art.” Was her pain emotional, physical, or both? I don’t know.

The journalist and historian Luiz Antonio Barreto (Sergipe/Brazil, 1944-2012) noted that Maria Cristina Gama always stood out for her irreverent and strong personality revealed in her writings, by thinking of poetry “with reflection that goes beyond language to become an instrument that art brings to the cultural dialogue of peoples.”

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Tesla’s Elon Musk unveils Solar Roof – Oct 28, 2016

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Way to go, Elon Musk and team! Can’t wait for Los Angeles to transition entirely to solar roofs. We even have a choice of solar glass tiles: textured, slate, smooth, and Tuscan.

Guyanese Online

Tesla’s Elon Musk unveils Solar Roof (2016.10.28)

Published on Oct 28, 2016

During a press event at Universal Studios in L.A., Elon Musk announces that Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels with integrated batteries. Coupled with the also unveiled PowerWall 2, it will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.

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A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

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WATER IS LIFE.
I stand with the Water Protectors in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

 

Carol A. Hand My heart is heavy with the news coming from Standing Rock, ND today. It’s led me to do something I rarely do. I’m posting a request for the help of all of those who follow this blog. For the sake of the health of our earth and future generations, I ask you […]

via A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

‘New Era of Climate Change Reality,’ WMO Warns

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With atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations having reached a “symbolic and significant milestone” in 2015—and with no signs of them abating this year—the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Monday that “a new era of climate change reality” is upon us.

Source: ‘New Era of Climate Change Reality,’ WMO Warns

Caught in a Storm Surge

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Hurricane Matthew – Storm Surge Threatens U.S. Eastern Seaboard – October 2016
Photo Credit: NBC Nightly News

 

Warmer oceans
Fearsome winds drive clouds of water bombs
Caught in a storm surge

In Aleppo
Lives mean nothing to take out Assad
Caught in a storm surge

Video tape
Unmasks groping billionaire
Caught in a storm surge

Hacked email files
Reveal deception of Favored One
Caught in a storm surge

U.S. & Russia
In stalemate over Syria
Caught in a storm surge

Temperatures rise
War drums roll between nuclear powers
Caught in a storm surge

Whatever our choice
Come November at the polls we are
Caught in a storm surge

Winds gather force
I hold onto Wisdom to save us
Caught in a storm surge

2016 US Presidential Elections: Candidates on Mass Incarceration

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In the United States – the land of the free – we hold the highest incarceration rate in the world, beating Cuba (2nd), and Rwanda (3rd). One in five of the more than 2 million Americans locked away in our prisons are nonviolent drug offenders. Learn more about this epidemic in the report “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016.”

Find out how our candidates plan to address this vital issue destroying our communities.

 

Hillary Clinton – Democratic Party

People are crying out for criminal justice reform. Families are being torn apart by excessive incarceration. Young people are being threatened and humiliated by racial profiling. Children are growing up in homes shattered by prison and poverty. They’re trying to tell us. We need to listen.
~ Hillary Clinton on Criminal Justice Reform, July 8, 2016
Learn more at http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/

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