At yesterday's Families Belong Together March, hundreds of thousands of Americans from New York City to Antler, North Dakota protested the Trump Administration's policies of ripping children from their families at the border and stuffing them in cages. That this policy has precedent in American history makes it all the more tragic, but we are lucky to have heroes among us who remember worse times, and whose words can inspire us to action.
Representative Maxine Waters of Los Angeles has faced death threats this week for her remarks not to treat Trump officials with civility, even being rebuked by the leaders of her own party. Waters was undeterred on Saturday, as she delivered a powerful oration against Trump's policies at the LA march, reminding us of the history she has lived with and fought back against her entire life. Growing up as an African-American woman, she said, "I was raised on the stories about what happened on the auction block when they auctioned off Africans." She continued:
"They took the fathers and they sent them one place. They took the mothers and they sent them another place. They took the children, the boys, to work in the farms and to work in the fields, and the girls to work on domestic matters in the big house. Well – we overcame that. We fought against that. We marched, we fought, and we won, and we’re going to win again."
Waters has been vocal in her disdain for President Trump and has called for Congress to impeach him for over a year. She repeated this yesterday and got the hashtag #impeach45 trending on Twitter this morning. She also stood up to her critics and enemies who wish to silence her:
"And I know that there are those who are talking about censuring me, talking about kicking me out of Congress, talking about shooting me, talking about hanging me. All I have to say is this: if you shoot me, you better shoot straight. There’s nothing like a wounded animal."
Over at the march in Atlanta, Representative John Lewis was on hand to address protestors as well. As the last surviving member of the "Big Six" who organized the March on Washington in 1963, he is our closest link to an era which gave us the reforms that are now in danger of being stripped away. But Lewis, who nearly gave his life for his right to vote, told marchers not to stand down:
"When I was very young, had all my hair and a few pounds lighter, I marched. There were people who said we would never get a Civil Rights Act, that we would never get a Voting Rights Act. But we marched! We were arrested and jailed, we were beaten, but we didn’t give up! You must not give up!
Lewis, who has tweeted this past week about the need to get into "necessary trouble," repeated his mantra in his speech:
"Look, you know, I've been talking for some time and getting in trouble. It's time for some of us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble. In the final analysis, we may have to turn America upside down to set it right side up, but whatever we do, do it in an orderly, peaceful and nonviolent fashion."
"And never, ever hate," he concluded. "Hate is too heavy a burden to bear."