Today, I gave this speech to the Brownsville City Council Meeting during the public comment portion.  The Brownsville Herald ran an article on Sunday that said that the Mayor was betrayed by the City Council who went behind closed doors to allow the Army Corps of Engineers onto city land to survey for the wall.  It is in response to that that I wrote this speech-on the back, and in the margins of the agenda.   

Yesterday, Princeton University recognized five of my 8th grade students for essays they wrote on the topic “What would Martin Luther King say and do about immigration?”  Princeton opened this year’s essay contest to my students because they used my blog, nonviolent migration, as a resource for their contest.  These five students, Melissa Guerra, Yessenia Martinez, Abigail Cabrera, Vanessa Trevino, and Blanca Gonzalez were the only five students who had the faith to submit an essay and all were recognized by Princeton. 

I asked the rest of my 121 students to speak honestly about why they had decided not to write for the contest.  The overwhelming number of students responded that it wasn’t worth trying because they felt that because Princeton is in the North, they would prejudge their work since they live on the border.  This experience reminded me once again just how excluded these children feel.   Even though this wall will be South of most of my students, my students are smart enough to know that the same motive behind this wall is also shouting at them, saying, “You are not us; keep out!” 

These students, who started with such enthusiasm when the contest was announced, lost hope and they let their fears overcome their faith.  This broke my heart because I love my students, but your capitulation is something other than heartbreaking because you are no longer 8th graders.  We expect you to hold out hope.  We expect you to keep the faith.  We expect you to work for us, and let us fight this fight. 

At this time, we want to express our love… and forgiveness… to all the members of the commission.  However, as a result of your action, we must now find a legal way to undo what you’ve done so that my 8th graders don’t come to learn that you prejudged them too. 

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Once again, I have to point you in the direction of a friend of mine who wrote an excellent article entitled, “Duty Free.”

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Thank you for visiting.

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One of the contributors on this blog, Matt Webster, writes on a regular basis on his own blog.  It is very good.  He is an excellent writer and a deep thinker.  Better still, he writes frequently.  One of his articles, “Badges of Citizenship,” was particularly insightful.  (I haven’t yet read his Guy Fawkes Day comment, but I hear it’s getting all the buzz.)  You can find his blog here:

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I attended a No Border Wall rally today. There one of the organizers said a truth most of us hated to hear but needed to stop denying. She said something to the effect of, “This is already Federal Law. If we do not change the minds of people nationally, we will get a wall.” I immediately thought, “How true.” We need a greater sense of urgency. It should be understood by now that solidarity within the movement is not enough. We need to affect hearts and minds. Me need to teach the country (starting with ourselves) a moral lesson, and nonviolent civil disobedience is the way.

It is time for this blog to become what I’ve always intended it to be, a place to discuss how nonviolent civil disobedience can be applied to immigration. So I am announcing a major change in direction for the blog: nonviolentmigration version 2.0 if you will.

I invite anyone who has a sense that what Dr. King and others did in the Civil Rights Movement could be used in our present situation with immigration to embark with me on an effort to blog weekly on the subject. I will create a syllabus of speeches by Dr. King, chapters by Gandhi, sermons by Jesus, etc., all on nonviolence or civil disobedience, and our assignment will be to write a blog response (once per week) that applies the principles taught by these leaders to the current immigration system.

The prerequisites are these:

  • A belief that the best general approach to the issue of immigration is from a human rights perspective.
  • A general respect for the philosophy of nonviolence and the methods and practice of the civil rights workers in the 1950’s and 60’s.
  • A commitment to studying one sermon/speech/chapter per week and writing one response per week.

If you meet these prerequisites, I strongly encourage you to contact me about this undertaking. If you have a blog, send me a link to one of your more detailed posts. If not, please send me a writing sample so that I can make a decision about who to include as a regular contributor. (I ideally want to limit this to perhaps three or four writers so that each writer can respond to each other writer each week).

Please email me at stating your interest.

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