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2005-01-24

Damu Smith: "Bush Doesn’t Know Anything About Freedom"

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We hear a speech by Damu Smith of Black Voices for Peace speaking at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington DC. Smith says, "Bush knows nothing about freedom. We know everything about freedom. We are the moral authority of our nation." [includes rush transcript]

  • Damu Smith, of Black Voices for Peace.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The night before at Reverend Grayland Hagler’s Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, DC, hundreds of people gathered on the day after the inauguration. Among those who addressed the crowd was Damu Smith of Black Voices for Peace.

DAMU SMITH: Yesterday I watched the president in his inauguration speech. He mentioned freedom 20-plus times. The day before I heard his stone-faced reactionary nominee for Secretary of State, Miss Condoleezza, speak so incessantly about the issue of torture. George Bush doesn’t know anything about freedom, because he’s not hearing the cries of the Haitian people. He is not hearing the cries of the Palestinian people, who live under the boot of Israel’s brutal and barbaric and racist occupation of the Palestinian people. He does not hear the cries of the Iraqi people. He does not hear the cries of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. He does not hear the cries of the people in the Congo, where the United States policy of so many years created the division in that country that we’re seeing right now. I didn’t hear him talk about the people in the far region of the Sudan. I didn’t hear him talk about the people in the ghettos and barrios of America. I didn’t hear him talk about the working people of our country who don’t have a living wage and don’t have health care. I didn’t hear him talk about our youth who are dying in our streets and our children who are going hungry every day. I didn’t hear him talk about any of these things. He knows nothing about freedom.

We know everything about freedom. We are the moral authority of our nation. Our responsibility is to be the other voice, and the other authority, because there’s a dual authority in the country. There’s one authority representing the reactionary and evil and criminal policies of this administration, and there’s the authority of people who love and yearn for justice and peace and human rights. Our authority is the authority that must prevail in the moral universe that God has created, because really, the Bible says, blessed are the peacemakers for we are the sons and daughters of God. And the Bible says that justice must roll down like a mighty stream, not like a trickle. If that is the mandate that we have, we have a responsibility to go forth from this meeting tonight to insure that justice is done by organizing in the schools, organizing in the mosques, organizing in the churches, organizing in the community centers, getting out to the metro stops, doing everything that’s necessary to educate the people to bring people who are not with us along. We cannot win this struggle by ourselves. We must exponentially expand the race of those who are fighting for freedom. We cannot do it just with ourselves.

So what I am saying to you in my two-and-a-half minutes left, that we have the responsibility to speak out forcefully against racism. People don’t want to talk about racism anymore. But let me tell you something, we’re not whining about it. Why did 60% of the white electorate vote for Bush, and 89% of the black electorate vote for Kerry? It’s not genetics. It’s experiential. I want to say to my white brothers and sisters, you have a responsibility tonight to go forth and talk to some of your racist white brothers and sisters who are so blinded by their racism and their ultra-nationalism that they cannot see the forest for the trees. So, as I conclude, go and write your letter, go and send your postcard, go and march, if you’re sitting on the sideline, you’re part of the problem. And you are not part of the solution. You are not doing God’s work. In my 30 seconds left, I love you all. Black Voices for Peace loves you, and I did it in five minutes.

AMY GOODMAN: And that was Damu Smith of Black Voices for Peace, speaking at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, DC, on Friday night.

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