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“People Have the Power”: Poet & Singer Patti Smith Awarded Key to New York City

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Legendary poet, singer, author and activist Patti Smith has been awarded a key to New York City. Smith’s music has inspired countless bands and helped earn her the title of the queen of punk. Her song “People Have the Power” has become an anthem at protests across the globe. Patti Smith has also been a longtime activist, performing regularly at antiwar rallies and political benefits. She gave an emotional acceptance speech during a ceremony Monday with outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. We also air a clip of her live performance with singer Michael Stipe at Democracy Now!’s 20th anniversary celebration in 2016.

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AMY GOODMAN: Legendary poet, singer, author and activist Patti Smith has been awarded a key to New York City. Smith’s music has inspired countless bands and helped earn her the title of queen of punk. Her song “People Have the Power” has become an anthem at protests across the globe. Patti Smith has also been a longtime activist, performing regularly at antiwar rallies and political benefits. She gave an emotional acceptance speech during a ceremony Monday with outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Patti Smith: “I kept thinking of what New York City has given to me. I came here in 1967 from a rural area of South Jersey. I had just a few dollars in my pocket, nowhere to stay, no real prospects. But I came here to get a job and to see what I could — to see what I was made of. And I found that the city, with all of its diversities and possibilities, if you’re willing to work, if you maintain your enthusiasm, you’ll make it.”

AMY GOODMAN: And those are some of the headlines. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

PATTI SMITH: [singing] Where there were deserts, I saw fountains
And like cream the waters rise
And we strolled there together
With none to laugh or criticize

Well, the leopard and the lamb
Lay together truly bound
Well, I was hopin’ in my hopin’
To recall what I had found

I was dreamin’ in my dreamin’
God knows a pure view
As I surrender into my sleepin’
I commit my dream with you

People have the power to dream
People have the power to vote
People have the power to strike
People have the power to live

The power to dream, to rule
To wrestle the world from fools
It’s decreed the people rule
Well, it’s decreed the people rule

Listen, I believe everythin’ we dream
Can come to pass through our union
We can turn the world around
We can turn the Earth’s revolution

People have the power
People have the power
The people have the power
People have the power

Don’t forget it! Use your voice! Democracy now!

AMY GOODMAN: Patti Smith performing “People Have the Power” with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. at Democracy Now!’s 20th anniversary celebration five years ago at Riverside Church. She was awarded the key to New York City on Monday.

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