Of course I was late for the bus. I believe that I was so nervous about going to Ferguson. My body shut down and tried to convince me to stay home. I pushed past the pain and dragged my luggage to the subway and then on the M14 bus that would take me to the tour bus. I MADE IT! I climbed aboard and off we went to the heartland of America. It was a quiet ride for the most part. By the time it was midnight, most of the choir was sound asleep. Those of us who were still up shivered in frustration because the heat shut off and it was unfixable. Later that night, frayed nerves, machismo and other unfortunate circumstances caused a major schism that almost threatened to stop our travel to Missouri. Feathers were smoothed, angry voices softened and the bus rolled on.
We arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, tired, cold and aggravated. Food and a short moment of rest put us in better spirits and we quickly went off to do what we needed to do to get our activism in gear.
Some of us went to Ferguson, the rest of us went to a church that provides food and other services to the homeless. The place is called The Haven and the magic of doing good for others worked on us. I have never seen such togetherness and organization! The young people in our choir are powerhouses of talent. Food was prepped, cooked and finished in a short span of time. Organic food that made my mouth water just at the smell of onions sautéing in a pan. Turkey, root vegetables, pies, salads and whipped cream made from the cream of a jar of raw milk was just some of the savory and sweet products of our labor.
We finished up and drove back to the hotel. On the way home, I was able to see the St. Louis Arch rising high into the clouds. It looked surreal, like something out of a fantasy film.
The next day, we converged on the hotel dining room and ate loads of hot breakfast food. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to eat enough during all our activities, so we ate and we ate well.
Monsanto is the devil
Why were we walking over a mile in the bitter cold? Why were we serving loads of wholesome and organic Thanksgiving food to people at the front door of Monsanto headquarters?
The Bees, lovely pollinators, honey makers and part of Mother Earth’s circle of life. How can we possibly have an existence without bees? Monsanto thinks that the Earth doesn’t need bees any longer. Monsanto feels that their robot bee can do what a real bee can. Because Monsanto feels that way, they don’t care that their herbicides and pesticides are one of the things that adversely affects the continued lives of bees. Some bees become disoriented. Some bees die.
Standing out in the bitter cold eating food that honey bees helped provide is not a huge sacrifice if it will help honeybees endure.
Reverend Billy preached, mostly to the already converted but maybe the young police people who stood guard over Monsanto’s domain heard something that that will make them throw out their Burpee seeds and buy heirloom seeds from farmers that do sustainable farming. COOK ORGANIC, NOT THE PLANET!
We were joined by farmers, activists and we happily chowed down on the best Thanksgiving feast anyone could possibly have.
Reverend Billy led the choir in song and after a proclamation of thankfulness from each and every person in attendance, we hauled our frozen asses back into the bus and move on to the next activity.
Mama Cat is a physically diminutive woman but when she speaks, she is a ten foot amazon! She runs a kitchen at St. Jude, African Methodist Episcopalian Church. She feeds not only the homeless in Ferguson, Missouri. She also feeds the activists who are protesting police brutality in Ferguson.
To see her shining brown face talk to you is to see radiance!
She brings out the best in people. As I talked to her, she took my hand and started singing. I was too much of a coward to run away but I desperately wanted to. She sang to me and indicated that she wanted me to join her. I was EMBARRASSED! I sang with Mama Cat and my fear dissipated. As I happily ensconced myself behind the food serving area, I watched and listened as Mama Cat nicely but FIRMLY dictated her rules for being in her kitchen and dining area. She cleared out the media that was not invited but crashed the dinner. Mama Cat put things in order smoothly and efficiently.
I loved the food that we cooked. It was organic, healthy and it tasted fabulous. However, I needed some down home food to make it a real Thanksgiving for me. So, you know that I had to have some of Mama Cat’s macaroni and cheese and her stuffing. MMM, MMM, MMM
The singing continued throughout dinner and the energy grew and grew. By the time, it was all over, we were ready to go out to the nearest Wal-Mart to protest the store being open on Thanksgiving evening. I guess Wal-Mart knew that being open on Thanksgiving was not going to be popular with some folk because the place was crowded with police and their dogs.
We went inside and basically just wandered around until somebody started chanting loudly and bravely. Chants that conveyed the message that shopping is taking away what times that families can share together. There is something perverse in the fact that one of the only days that you can stay home and chill out with your family and friends, instead you choose to spend your money on stuff.
The police herded us outside and told us to get away from the store because it’s private property.
The beautiful black and tan German Shepard barked ferociously at us, baring its teeth as the policeman struggled to keep him from attacking. The dog was out of control and the policeman finally took him inside of the vestibule of the store to calm it down.
More policemen gathered and pushed the protesters further into the parking lot away from the store. They threatened to arrest us if we didn’t leave the parking lot. Still we chanted. We chanted for no shopping, we chanted for Justice. We chanted in the cold November night in defiance of the policemen’s threats of arrest. We told them exactly what they were, lackeys for Wal-Mart. Some shoppers walked past us and laughed as they merrily headed into Wal-Mart to spend their money. Eventually we did disperse. Some of us continued on to other stores to protest. The next stop was Target and the protesters filled their shopping carts with a multitude of expensive stuff and converged at the check outs at the same time. All the “shoppers” then realized that they forgot their wallets. They held up the lines for a long time and disrupted the shoppers who really wanted to buy stuff.
This went on into the night and eventually Reverend Billy and the rest of the choir made it back to the hotel without getting arrested. We had a regular hootenanny of a party in one of the hotel rooms. It was good to hear music and singing. I went off to bed early because I’m not the young whippersnapper that I used to be. I like my rest, gosh darn it!
In the morning, a fine breakfast was had by all and we were treated by Reverend Billy’s Uncle.
We would soon depart from the hotel but first, we took a ride over to Canfield Green apartments to pay our respects to the memory of Michael Brown. The memorial was at the place of his death on the street. We gathered together and sang. A trumpeter joined us and when we finished our solemn songs of mourning, the trumpeter insisted that we live in light, that we sing of the new day, of the continuing life that we are all blessed with. I wonder if Mama Cat is married because if she isn’t, she and the trumpeter would make a fine couple. They would make a strong pair of positivity and determination.
So, we left. We assembled in our seats on the bus and rode back to NYC with no mishaps and no impulsive spending of money at the road stops along the highways.
We arrived in Manhattan at eight in the morning and we gave each other hugs and kisses before we parted ways.
I tried to nap that day but it wasn’t happening. I had to work that night and I was not happy. It wasn’t so bad but I wrote an e-mail stating that I would not be performing at the Sunday show.
Billy wrote me back, he texted me, he called me and when I got up Sunday morning and saw all his entreaties to get me to come, I finally decided that I can do it.
We all came, the choir that went to Ferguson, Missouri and those that didn’t.
The show begins, we sing, Reverend Billy preaches, the energy is gathering, building! By Billy’s sermon, we are on fire. Reverend Billy’s words are like fuel on the fire. We dance, sway, acknowledge that one must always have a conundrum. Billy leads us into a frenzy that just doesn’t end. The show ends and we wished it went on, and on. Being in Missouri truly affected us and it showed on that stage. It’s like the trumpeter said, it’s about life. We have to be in the present and not sink in the mire. Don’t despair, we have to have to love, laugh and be strong enough to let somebody lean on us and we have to have the warmth to give.
Our planet dying is serious business. A person being killed in the street by the police is not a joke.
We can despair or we can join our brothers and sisters to demand positive change.
I’m so glad to be in the choir with all my brothers and sisters who show me every day that we can lead the way to a better life.
What an awesome trip! I am so blessed