So…we decided to go ahead and drive to Tornillo, Texas, for the rally this past weekend. On our eleven hour road trip, I received text messages from Voto Latino who was behind the rally. That’s to be expected. I also received texts from the Movement for Black Lives Matter (to take action on behalf of the separated families). And from the Sierra Club (to take action on behalf of the separated families).
The rally itself was not large by the big city standards I’m accustomed to in Los Angeles. Maybe a couple hundred people. I was thankful for my sunglasses because my eyes welled up with tears each time we chanted, “The people, united, can not be divided!” and “Free the Children Now!”
Then I noticed three or four really big Human Rights Campaign flags from HRC – a LGBT civil rights organization. I saw many young people with #March for Our Lives t-shirts. Then I noticed a very old woman in a wheelchair who was a holocaust survivor.
A Native American woman joined in the protest as well. Several times she reminded anyone within earshot that taking children away is nothing new for the US government, and that all of us – immigrants included – are on stolen land. Point accepted.
After the rally was over, Christine and I walked 100 yards to the actual border. Twenty or so people were there, peering through the gate blocked by security guards to bear witness to the tents where the children are being held. We noticed a familiar face because she’s on MSNBC news – and it was her organization’s rally – in Maria Teresa Kumar. She seemed pretty approachable so we said hi and thanked her for her leadership on this issue. I asked her if she minded that the HRC flags were so big – did they overshadow Voto Latino? Here’s what she said:
“Absolutely not – I’m so glad they were here. We wanted them to come. They’re starting with the immigrant families kids but they’ve told us their plans. They’re coming after all of us. First the kids. Then they want to take away citizenship from naturalized citizens. Then women’s rights. Then LGBT rights. So we all need to stand by one another and not allow that to happen.”
Who is “they?” I asked.
“Pence, Kelly, and Miller.”
We exchanged hugs and well wishes. Christine and I headed back home to our own kids who were safe and sound the entire time. But what Maria Teresa said stayed with me. And I am still getting texts from all those groups to continue to stay engaged and involved until all the families are back together again.
Recently one of our fellows, Nicole Hockley, Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise said this:“I do not believe in coincidences – I believe the fabric of life works hard to keep people connected for the right purpose, at the right time.”
For me personally, I go back again and again to MLK’s quote: “In a real sense, all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” My friend Heather Hackman once said to me, “That’s not just a nice quote. It’s the key to avoiding extinction of the human race.”
I’m reminded of another fellow, Eunice Nichols, Director of Encore.org’s Generation to Generation Campaign and how she routinely reaches out across sectors and issue areas to deliberately weave together the fabric of life.
Sometimes when we’re leading large-scale change, it’s easy to get sucked into our own silos and issue areas. That’s completely understandable because there’s just so much to do. Sometimes it’s even tempting to throw others under the bus to advance our own cause. I can’t tell you how many times when I was working on street homelessness, I was asked, “yeah, but what aboutfamily homelessness?” As if it ever has to be an either/or. I think in many cases, the answer is a both/and. Don’t be afraid to reject the premise of the question, ok??
This week – with all that is going on that is truly breaking my heart, including the latest shooting in Annapolis just today – I am going to keep Nicole Hockley’s words front and center. How can I be part of actively weaving together the fabric of life? How can I come out of my silo and reach out to others? Because we are all in this together.
p.s. While I was writing this, I received an email from Maria Teresa Kumar that the tent city in Tornillo will shut down by July 13th.
I want to bring your awesome aims into our sessions on…aims. My intention is to print them out on laminated 3×5 cards and have them in the room as inspiring sample aims for folks to see.
Please take a minute to share your aims with me here and we’ll be sure you inspire the folks who are following in your foot steps. Thank you!
We have one remaining spot for an alumni who wants to join our two-year fellowship this September 25th – 27th, and two spots for folks who’d want to start Feb 5th – 7th, 2019. More info an application here.