Public Action 2016
Poetry in the Streets
Counter Hate and Fear: Commit Public Displays of Poetry!
Friday, April 15 (Rain or Shine!)
Meet at 9:45 am in the Equality Forum of the Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
In the past year, we’ve witnessed a terrifying rise in the rhetoric of hate and fear. Public figures are driving us apart, scapegoating immigrants and refugees, demonizing our Islamic sisters and brothers, demeaning anyone who does not fit their notion of an American.
Poetry has a special role to play in this climate: crying out against injustice, but also welcoming one another, celebrating what is beautiful in one another, offering love in the face of fear.
For one hour on Friday, we’ll flash mob downtown DC with poems of love and welcome. We’ll gather in the Equality Forum of the Human Rights Campaign at 9:45 am and then break into small groups, after which we’ll fan out through the surrounding area. Each group will have a leader-person, who will guide it to a designated spot. From street corners, participants will read poems to passersby and pass out copies, too. Washington, DC, awash in love!
Bring a poem of love and welcome to read – of your own or one you admire. We’ll also have poems from Split This Rock’s new social justice poetry database, The Quarry, if you’d rather read one of those. And we’ll have lots of copies of those to distribute.
Please put your name and hometown on the poem you bring and hand it to your guide when the action ends. We’ll get as many of the poems on the blog as possible afterward – a Virtual Open Mic of Love and Welcome!
How Do We Enact Love and Welcome in Public Policy?
• Stop deporting families back to Central America. The Obama Administration has deported more people than the administration of any past president.
• Welcome refugees, particularly of wars of our own making. More than one third of the world’s refugees are Iraqi and Syrian, fleeing wars and areas of conflict that resulted directly from the US invasion of Iraq. At this time, the US is committed to accepting only 15,000 Syrian refugees, despite the enormity of the crisis.
• Commit to the safety of Black and brown people. End police killings and reform the American criminal justice system, which incarcerates citizens at a greater rate than any country on earth.
• End legal discrimination against LGBTQ people throughout the land and combat violence against trans people.
• Enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act to guarantee the full inclusion of people with disabilities in public life.
Visit Past Festivals section to read about previous public actions in 2014, 2010, and 2008.
Photo by Kristin Adair