Activist news report from Emma's Revolution, progressive troubadours

While in Crawford, I was introduced to an amazing musical duo, Pat Humphries and Sandy O, otherwise known as Emma’s Revolution. Their music is totally amazing, a blend of folk, pop, roots rock. The best way I can think to describe them is a mix of Pete Seeger and Sweet Honey and the Rock.

They seem to make it to every meaningful activist event, to offer their political support and musical contribution, which can raise the level of emotion and commitment to untold levels. I could go on, but you can read about them and all the events and projects they’ve been affiliated with, and all the accolades they’ve received, at their web site.

Because of their travels, their newsletter is a compendium of all the latest progressive political insider news. The latest issue is no exception. They just got back from the annual School of the Americas Watch demo at Ft. Benning, GA and here’s some of what they shared about the 19th (and hopefully last) SOA protest and its founder, Father Roy Bourgeois:

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we and 20,000 other folks gathered again outside the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA for the vigil to shut down the School of the Americas. Or, as activists call it, “The School of the Assassins.”

The SOA is a torture-training school-right here on US soil and funded by our tax dollars-where Latin America soldiers are taught counterinsurgency tactics, psychological warfare and Abu-Ghraib-style torture techniques. The School of the Americas Watch, a grassroots organization dedicated to closing the SOA and changing oppressive US foreign policy, has been holding these vigils for the past 18 years, the first one, with only 10 people. We wrote our song, “One by One” for this demonstration, which features spoken testimony from torture survivors, family members whose loved ones were killed by SOA graduates, the sole survivor of a massacre, elected officials, actors, and activists from around the world, all interspersed with the most music, spoken word and visual arts we’ve ever seen at a demonstration. (Thanks to Al Viola for this photo of the musicians’ collective at the 2007 Vigil!)

Sign the Petition to President- Elect Obama to End Torture and Close the SOA, and come next November!

Now, for the Pope part.

The Friday of this year’s vigil was also the day that SOAW founder, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, was to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Not for standing up to the military or to the US government, for that matter, but for participating in a Mass to ordain a woman priest.

Fr. Roy delivered the homily at that ceremony in August, saying:

“Sexism is a sin. . . The hierarchy will say, ‘It is the tradition of the church not to ordain women.’ I grew up in a small town in Louisiana and often heard, ‘It is the tradition of the South to have segregated schools.’ It was also ‘the tradition’ in our Catholic church to have the Black members seated in the last five pews of the church. No matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always wrong and immoral.”

In October, the church hierarchy sent Fr. Roy a letter demanding he recant his position or be excommunicated. But, Fr. Roy didn’t back down. He wrote a letter in response and he and others have pointed out the disturbing fact that, while it took the Vatican twelve years to begin to respond to the sexual abuse of nearly 5,000 children by US priests (with none of the priests, nor the bishops who remained silent about the abuse, being excommunicated) it took only three months for the Vatican to respond to Fr. Roy’s support of women’s ordination with the threat of excommunication.

(Did you know you can email the Pope? ) and the petitions are having an effect. We think the slogan of the Women’s Ordination Conference’s petition in support of Fr. Roy says it best:

“Break the Silence. Shatter the Stained Glass Ceiling.”

Emma’s Revolution will be playing at the Innaugural Peace Ball in DC on Jan. 20. But don’t plan on attending it unless you are one of the lucky 1000 who got tickets before it sold out in one day!

Their new album is called Roots, Rock, Revolution and you can listen and buy on the site. I’m ordering it and listening to their earlier album One while I wait for it to arrive.

Please be sure to sign the petition asking Obama to close the SOA using the linked image below.

Oh, and I’ll try to find my photos of Pat and Sandy from Crawford to add to this post.