Monday, January 18, 2016

Impressions of the March

(Martin Luther King Jr., of course.)

The Central District as an entity, a creature, snorting and pacing. There is a lot of history, just the thickness of a blade below the surface.  Yesler Terrace all torn open on the way over.  Beat up ugly 70's housing and some newer nice low rise developments.  How to have anything at all and not contribute to gentrification?

So many people of color.  I'm almost never around people who are both a different race and class.  Remembering how diverse south Seattle is.  It was basically a Black Lives Matter rally.  Very intergenerational.  Lots of engaged young people and grizzled old activists.  3 high schoolers as emcees, with some young people presenting.  Really supportive community for young people of color to express themselves and step into leadership roles.  T-shirt "Believe in a Black Girl."

Poor sound system, about 20 different speakers for 3-5 minutes each, lots of egos running over time.  The big dudes from the Machinist's Union collecting donations in buckets.  Hip hop, poetry, and dance.  This woman running for some state education position who was 7' tall with 10" heels - very good speaker.  Ripped young guy organizing the whole thing who seemed very comfortable in the role.  Mayor Murray coming in on the defensive about police reform, practically begging people to give it a chance.  Photo op with the Mayor and tribal donors.  Running over schedule, kicked out of the gym for a basketball game.

Nice day for a march.  So many people.  Signs and banners and music.  Some splinter group trying to divert the march off official route.  Their flier: "Don't talk to the police."  Little kids singing.  Hippie guy marching with a goat on a leash.  Good spirits overall.  What is the point of a march like this?  More of a social thing?  A low key way to keep people engaged? Part community celebration, part if-you're-not-angry-you're-not-paying-attention.

1.9 miles.  Ran into a couple old friends on the way.

Rally at the Federal Building.  Architectural Style: Alien Spaceship Brutalism.  Kshama Sawant (who is awesome) just outright calling for socialism and calling out Amazon.com for taking over the city.  Some hip hop, some slam poetry.

Overall impressions: a good event, good energy, lots of people.  Felt pretty amaturish, thrown together, informal.  But also apparently the largest MLK event in the country?  (Hard to believe there isn't more in the South.)  Good to get out and do something and see some people I knew and just see so many people who care about social justice making it a focus on their day off.

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