Elders from Across the Nation Declare
Solidarity with the Occupy Movement
Veterans of America's 20th Century civil rights movement will enter the 21st Century Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles on Sunday, November 20.
Known as the "Council of Elders," they will step inside the nationwide encampments to symbolically share the torch of hope and justice and engage the Occupiers in dialogue about defining movements of the past. "We want to contribute to this intergenerational movement," says Dr. Vincent Harding, activist and writer in the civil rights movement. "We are thankful for the efforts of Occupy Wall Street to unite the 99% and bring the many gifts and great energy of millions into effective action to transform our nation."
The Council of Elders is an independent group of leaders from the farm workers, sanctuary and human rights movements that shook the nation's conscience with public protests over the past 50 years.
"We see Occupy Wall Street as a continuation, a deepening and expansion of the determination of the diverse peoples of our nation to transform our country into a more democratic, equitable, just, and compassionate society," excerpt from the statement of solidarity by the Council of Elders to be read at each of the Occupy encampments.
By bringing their voices to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the elders are addressing a litany of social grievances, including poverty, mass incarceration, and what they call a culture of war and violence. Dolores Huerta, activist with Cesar Chavez and the farm-workers movement, believes today's conditions create bitter divisions among peoples across the United States and throughout the world.
"We applaud the miraculous extent to which the Occupy initiative around the nation has been non-violent and democratic, especially in light of the weight of the systematic violence under which the great majority of people are forced to live," says Rev. James Lawson, leading theoretician, tactician and theologian of the civil rights movement.
The economic crisis which sparked the Occupy Wall Street movement also motivated the veteran protesters. They cite soaring unemployment rates, home foreclosures, and inadequate health care as issues that require public outcries.
The Council of Elders promotes compassion and non-violent action as the highest values to reverse trends that put profits ahead of people in its quest to contribute to the much-needed movement for a more just society and a more peaceful world.
The council members are urging elders from around the nation to join the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In New York City on November 20th, members of the Elder Council will spend time with those encamped at Zuccoti Park, beginning at 2:30 PM. They will lead a worship service in front of the "red structure" within Zuccotti Park at 3:30 pm. Elders will then host a dialogue with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and other interested individuals at 5pm, at 74 Trinity Place. Both events are open to the public.
Council of Elders Organizing Committee
Rev. James Lawson, Jr.
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Vincent G. Harding
Rev. Phillip Lawson
San Francisco, CA
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon
Dr. Grace Lee Boggs
Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB
Marian Wright Edelman
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rev. Dr. George (Tink) Tinker
Rev. John Fife
Dr. Mel White
Rev. Nelson Johnson
Joyce Hobson Johnson