travel...eat...stay...shop...explore...dance...play...lollygag

...help...learn...grow...connect...

Share

Experiences

  • SharedExperiencesUSA

A New Emancipation Proclamation

Chandra Williams shared spoken word at our Community Empowerment Rally about "our emancipation proclamation." Powerful words. She said, "We're beginning to see ourselves as who we really are. Because ever since we arrived here in this country, an identity was imposed upon us...our culture was kidnapped. We were told that we are something that we're not. We were told that we're lesser than what we are."


Chandra's poetry articulates how that legacy continues through the arts: "That thuggish image that's portrayed of us? That image is the new slave trade for us."


"We have to take our image back. We have to use our arts to do that. What better place for the cultural identity of African American people to be reclaimed than Clarksdale, Mississippi and the Delta, whose culture has informed the whole world... When the Delta rewrites itself, I believe the Delta can rewrite America. I believe the Delta can rewrite race in America."


"I see something here. So I want to ask y'all to rise up and use your power just like you are right now: a peaceful power, the power to come together. I'm here to say that all of America needs Mississippi to rise up right now."


Our country's first Emancipation Proclamation was read to the last men in the Confederacy to be freed on Juneteenth in 1865. In celebrating freedom today, press play to hear these words spoken here now:



"I love that shirt, Abe: 'Black Father.' That's who we are.


Something has got to be done when something is hurting my sons.

Whatever color is holding the gun, it's time to bring life to our sons.

Sons.

Some people think they're afraid of us;

They fear an image that was made of us,

Just a violent image overplayed of us.

That thuggish image that's portrayed of us?

That image is the new slave trade for us.

Our gangster image keeps these prisons filled.

These private prisons are the new cotton fields.

But this is what WE have been keeping real:

Like the brother just said when we take those record deals,

And rap to kids: rob, deal, and kill.

So this is something rap will heal.

We have the power, and now is the hour.

So this is our emancipation proclamation --

Circulate this around the nation.

So this is our emancipation proclamation --

Circulate this around the nation.

When this reaches you, take a long vacation.

Don't take a week, don't take a month.

Take a generation.

Take a century.

'Cause now you are free to be whoever you are really meant to be.

It's not up to me:

I don't work for the north or the south;

I'm not hired for the words that are coming from my mouth.

I was sent by the universe

To bring us a verse,

To help us lift this vicious curse.

So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

All colors: an image has been made of you.

Do not believe it.

Do not achieve it.

Who you really are, the whole world needs it.

I hope whoever hears this heeds it.


Black people, an image has been made of you.

White people, an image has been made of you.

Old people, an image has been made of you.

Young people, an image has been made of you.


Pastor Zed said, it's time to see ourselves as who we really are. That's what this time is for. That's what's happening right now in America and in the world: we're beginning to see ourselves as who we really are.


Because ever since we arrived here in this country, an identity was imposed upon us.


I'm here to free our children from these identities imposed upon them, through the media for corporate entities. Those are the overseers that we're not meant to see.


But this is our emancipation proclamation, and there is nowhere better for these words to be said than in Clarksdale, Mississippi.


Because right now what I'm talking about when I say an "identity was imposed upon us," our culture was kidnapped.


We were told that we are something that we're not. We were told that we're lesser than what we are.


I said, "That thuggish image that's portrayed of us is the new slave trade for us," but the savage image that's always been portrayed of us has always been a part of the slave trade for us.


We have to take our image back. We have to use our arts to do that.


What better place for the cultural identity of African American people to be reclaimed than Clarksdale Mississippi and the Delta, whose culture has informed the whole world.


These young people who organized this -- this is called Rewriting the Delta. When the Delta rewrites itself, I believe the Delta can rewrite America. I believe the Delta can rewrite race in America. For some reason, stuff that comes out of the Delta spreads all around the world. Okay?


...I see something here. So I want to ask y'all to rise up and use your power just like you are right now: a peaceful power, the power to come together. I'm here to say that all of America needs Mississippi to rise up right now."