Gonna Keep on Marchin'
by Karen Hall
Each year we march so that our city remembers that Juneteenth is the oldest
known celebration of the end of slavery, dating back to 1865. We march to celebrate
the coming of freedom and the knowledge that for slaves in Texas, it came two
and one-half years late. We march because we are familiar with delays, because
we are impatient, because the time to live in freedom and justice is now.
Each year we march to commemorate the small group of queers who would not suffer
police harassment one more night and instead took the sexual liberation movement
to the streets in the form of the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.
We march in red hats and pink dresses. We who have been told we should not wear red or that we should never be seen in public in a dress know who we are and we come out in our finest on this day and march proudly down city streets.
We march amongst our neighbors and strangers and the people we drive by on
the highway on weekdays. We march shoulder to shoulder with people with whom
sometimes we disagree.
We march for the people who must work, who can't be seen in our march, who
are afraid, who don't think it matters any more, who need to be reminded.
Each year we march to feel history rise up through our feet, strengthen our
legs, straighten our backs and surge through our hearts until it bursts out
our lungs in a hearty yell.
We march as a lesson to those who have never marched that there is a strong
and vibrant community ready to embrace them, ready to struggle along-side them,
ready to laugh, wear red, eat ribs, dance and shout until all of us are free.
Each year we march in the footsteps of last year with our vision set on freedom
and liberation for all.
We march each and every year because we feel in our bodies from head to soul the wisdom of Fred Pruitt's blues song, The Indebtedness Of Love: "As long as one of us is in chains/ None of us are free."