Revolution


A song featured in the "Take this Hammer!" exhibit
Written by
Occupy Oakland, May Day Rally 2013 (occupyoakland.org)

"Revolution" evolved while I was a member of the sound committee of Occupy Oakland. After setting up our sound system for rallies and actions, I found myself doing the routine sound checks with songs and verses I had written. I vividly recall how my voice seemed to travel from 14th and Broadway all the way to Jack London Square on the General Strike sound system. We ensured that our speakers, such as Angela Davis, would be heard. During these rallies, I would witness acts of generosity from strangers and observe the brilliant thinkers around me in action and feel utterly inspired. These experiences couldn’t help but become integral in my songwriting. "Revolution" was inspired by our collective power and willingness to work on ending oppression and also by our frustration when witnessing the reactions of the 1% and their supporters. They attempted to silence our rage toward the economic injustice and the systemic oppression we face to the violent extent of tear gas and rubber bullets. In spite of the opposition, people continued showing up for each other with support and love.

I decided to finish the song Revolution for the West Coast Port Shutdown in December 2011. I performed it on the Occupy Oakland sound truck in front of hundreds of people already at the port and while the second wave of protesters were marching from the West Oakland bart station.

Revolution documents a unique moment in time, when our movement was strong and hopeful despite the city and police coming down on us harder, raiding the encampment for the second time. Even with this happening people found ways to support each other so that they could continue to fight for social justice, ending inequality and hate in our society and within the movement.

The version currently featured in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts exhibition: Take This Hammer: Art + Media Activism from the Bay, curated by Christian L. Frock, incorproates an audio recording of one of my friends getting arrested at an Occupy Oakland May Day rally. The sample is an audio picture of one incident that I had witnessed happen many times in the movement. I had to use it.

Revolution

 

I walked for miles til' I found a drink

They left a bottle by that new wall they built

 

I drank it down it stole my breath

and then they gave life right back to me

 

You found me on your doorstep, fed my mouth

and bathed my dirty body

 

Put your arms around my neck

and said its time we start marching

 

We marched for miles and shut down their trade

We marched for miles for the people's sake

We marched for miles and shut down their trade

Now their watching us with hogs eyes

Hoping that we dissipate

 

The cops came in snatched my friend

and dragged her through the concrete

 

I followed her blood trail, she caught my eyes

and she started yellin

 

She yelled Revolution comin carry on

Revolution comin carry on

Revolution comin carry on

Revolution comin, comin, carry on

 

So don't stop, don't stop, don't stop

This is the place to stay

Don't stop, don't stop

We gotta go all the way

 

Don't stop, don't stop

This is the place to stay

Don't stop, don't stop, don't stop

 

My Mama called me up

Just the other day

 

I could hear her weeping softly

and I didn't know what to say

 

She cried my rents to high

I can't find work and there's all these bills to pay

 

When there's no food to eat and I'm on the street

What can I do but pray

 

Oh my Mama

She can't get what she need

 

All alone a gentle soul

In this kingdom of greed

 

We marched for miles and shut down their trade

We marched for miles for my Mama's sake

We marched for miles and shut down their trade

Now their watching us with hogs eyes

Hoping that we dissipate

 

Revolution comin carry on

Revolution comin carry on

Revolution comin, carry on

Revolution comin, comin, carry on

 

This work was originally performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on June 7 as part of Take This Hammer: Ten Bay Area Writers Respond, organized by Kevin B. Chen, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Chinaka Hodge, in conjunction with the exhibition Take This Hammer: Art + Media Activism from the Bay Area, curated by Christian L. Frock, on view at YBCA through August 14, 2016.

View more works from CultureStrike's feature series from the exhibit.

 

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