February 2008

I gave this speech at the Brownsville City Commission meeting last Tuesday.  The city was honoring my students for their recognition as part of the Princeton University Martin Luther King Essay Contest.  One student, the one who had spent the most time on her essay, gave a great speech to the Commission, advising them to fight the fence and support increasing the legal ability to immigrate.  So during the public comment’s section, I gave this speech.
Jesus often called the young people to him by saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He also quoted Psalms 8:2 which states, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, thou hast perfected praise.”
Although I can’t quote these lines to my students while teaching, they have helped guide my thinking as a teacher.  Among other things, they alert me to listen to the wisdom and insight that children often have naturally, some of which, we as adults miss.  These children here today have taught me so much about tenacity, faith and life, and for that I thank them.
My only admonition for the City Commission is that you fully consider, and not disregard, the “perfected praise” that has come to you “out of the mouth of babes.”  “Let no man despise [their] youth.”
Furthermore, knowing these students as I know them, I believe that we as adults must do everything we can to be as courageous, active, and tenacious as we can, just to keep up with them.  In light of that, I ask the members of the Commission to join The Border Ambassadors, LUPE, CASA, Proyecto Azteca, Southwest Workers Union, and most importantly the students, by supporting the March Against the Wall and any other peaceful, grassroots, direct-action event supporting the preservation of La Frontera and preventing Segregation.

Follow this link for Progressive Forum guest, Elizabeth Stephens’ article on Common Dreams.

A year and a half ago, Border Ambassador Jay Johnson-Castro walked from Laredo to Brownsville to protest the Secure Fence Act of 2006.  Even though his walk was undertaken alone, his action was covered by international, national, and Texas print, radio and television media, including the BBC. 

Since that time, the plans for the fence have moved forward despite concerns about the Rio Grande’s natural habitat and the rights of landowners to retain property held in families for generations, some predating the United States.  Attempts to negotiate for better solutions have been in vain, which leaves local residents little option but to participate in direct action and challenge the law.  Courageous landowners refusing to grant access to their property for the wall are personally bearing the hopes of our entire community determined not to let the fence segregate its residents and harm its environment.  These heroic landowners are now facing litigation for their non-capitulation; they face a personal risk that we as a community must bear collectively

Following the motto “You got to move,” this spring, from Saturday, March eighth to Sunday, March sixteenth, Valley residents including educators, students, religious and civic leaders will participate in a nonviolent walk of 115 miles from Roma to Brownsville to gather national solidarity for those owners.  Concerned people are invited to join Johnson-Castro and the Border Ambassadors in the No Border Wall Walk and may sign up to participate here.

March 8Roma to Rio Grande City
March 9Rio Grande City to La Grulla
March 10La Grulla to La Joya
March 11La Joya to Mission
March 12Mission to Las Milpas
March 13Las Milpas to Progreso
March 14Progreso to Los Indios
March 15Los Indios to Ranchito
March 16Ranchito to Brownsville

For further information, contact John Moore at 956-203-1499.

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