Archive | May, 2012

Who Are These Children Dressed in Red? Nonviolent Resistance and the Cost of Conscience

Narayan Desai taught us about nonviolent resistance in Birmingham, a city notoriously known as “Bombingham” because so many churches and homes were bombed by the forces of racism. We saw the parallels between Gandhi’s embrace of the risks of prison and police attacks, and the courage of Birmingham’s civil rights activists.

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Spending on U.S. War Machine Creates Rising Poverty

The New Priorities Campaign protests military spending as a direct cause of increasing poverty and homelessness. National security needs to be defined by more than our missiles, ships, planes and drones. Our country has been turned into “fortress America” to protect the interests of the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

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Massive Protest at Wells Fargo Exposes Corporate Misconduct of Big Banks

Thousands of marchers protested the unjust gap between rich and poor by nonviolently disrupting Wells Fargo’s shareholders meeting in San Francisco. They confronted bank executives about Wells Fargo’s role in the country’s financial crisis, the high number of foreclosures that reduce families to homelessness, and the bank’s investment in private prisons.

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New Director Revitalizes Street Spirit Vendor Team

J.C. Orton, the new director of Street Spirit’s vendor program, has revitalized the entire program and made remarkable improvements in the number of vendors working, the number of issues sold, and the overall morale of vendors. Best of all, vendors now feel they have someone truly cares about them.

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Thousands March in May Day Protests in Oakland

More than 5,000 protesters marched in Oakland on May Day to call for economic justice, full human rights for immigrants and poor people, and to demand an end to corporate greed and bank bail-outs. Demonstrators represented Occupy Oakland, immigrant rights organizations, anti-war activists, faith groups and labor unions.

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How Mississippi Beat the South’s Anti-Immigrant Wave

When Republicans championed HB 488, an attempt to drive immigrants from Mississippi, many black legislators and labor unions spoke against it. Some objected to the term “illegal alien,” while others said it justified breaking up families and “ethnic cleansing.” Even many white legislators were inspired to speak against it.

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Everyone Matters — A Lasting Lesson from a Lost Brother

As one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters in Slaughterhouse-Five says, “It’s a crime to be poor in America.” This is a truth my brother Larry experienced for decades. Larry taught me that everyone matters, and this lesson fueled a longing for a world whose policies and conditions reflected this basic fact.

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Federal Government Shreds Housing for the Poor

For hundreds of thousands of U.S. households, public housing, Section 8, and other HUD rental assistance programs are lifelines. These programs make the difference between having a home and being homeless. And yet, both Congress and the White House are now proposing significantly rent increases in these programs.

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Living in the Dark Ages in Modern America

There is no excuse for political leaders and for the wealthy people who influence them to allow widespread poverty, hunger and disease. The starvation and disease that continue in many places would not exist if the people who hoard most of the wealth cared about helping their fellow human beings.

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A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.