Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Freedom Train 2009: At Long Last the Slow Train of Freedom Leaving the Station

The 24th Annual Freedom Train yesterday was absolutely magnificent! Check out these videos from KRON Channel 4 , KCBS report, KCBS audio, CBS 5, KTVU Channel 2, and KGO Channel 7.

A Mercury News report that included a blurb on the history of the creation 25 years ago of the the organization 'Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley'.

At the end of the train ride in San Francisco until 2 years ago used to be a march from the Caltrain station at 4th and Townsend to the SF Civic Center. The official line was that with the election of Obama the dream has now been 'realized'. Setting aside the debatability of what I take to be a vast overstatement of today's reality (ie. does an election of yet another Duopoly candidate to lead the Amurikkkan Empire, biracial or not really fully 'realize' Dr. King's dream -- No, I certainly don't think so -- one of our guides on the Freedom Train intimated that the politically impolite reality was that paying for the police to line the march and to seal off the route was too expensive at this time for the volunteer organization NorCalMLK to be able to pull off.

Also I had observed earlier years that the march was being dominated by the the peace activists, labor unionists, socialists, communists, Lyndon LaRouchies and the focus was so being pulled away from the MLK celebration and it occurs to me maybe the NorCalMLK group was tired of their march being used as a platform by other groups without the benefit of the other groups actually helping to foot the bill and running the event.

Starting last year (on the anniversary of the Rosa Parks civil rights bus event) NorCalMLK started employing Muni busses to get participants from the train to the civic center. There a blowout cultural, political, civil rights event took place, this year entitled the The Realization of Hope. My favorite part of the cultural celebrations was a brilliant poem by a young man (I think his first name was Robert) that had the word 'Revolution' as part of its title. I searched and searched but haven't found a copy of it yet, but when I do I'll try and post it here. Brilliant political and social commentary. Rev. Cecil Williams and the church he leads, Glide Memorial provided most of the organization and entertainment (choir, musical groups, etc.) for the day. As always a fun and fascinating event.

Historically there were two famous previous 'Freedom Trains' from American history. In 1947-1949 The first "American Freedom Train" brought the The train carried the original versions of the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on its tour of more than 300 cities in all 48 states of the union at that time (note that Alaska and Hawaii weren't added as states until 1959).

The second in 1975-1976 commemorate the United States Bicentennial. Within the train's 10 display cars were over 500 precious treasures of Americana. Included in these diverse artifacts were George Washington's copy of the Constitution, the original Louisiana Purchase, Judy Garland's dress from The Wizard of Oz, Joe Frazier's boxing trunks, Martin Luther King's pulpit and robes, and even a rock from the moon.

A book written in 1954 by the great African American, Jewish female writer Dorothy Sterling who just passed away just over 1 month ago December 1st 2008, entitled Freedom train: the story of Harriet Tubman equated the name "Freedom Train" with the underground railroad {study Resources for the book}

The underground railroad real freedom more than 30 thousand people who escaped slavery to the northern U.S. and Canada There are a number of excellent web resources including study resources , detailing the Underground Railroad, including this,
this and a web site from the National Geographic on the Underground Railroad.

As this article alludes to
A Slow Train (AKA a 'local train') is a train run that makes ALL of the local stops. The term has come to symbolize an all-inclusive slowly gathering momentum movement of the people with all the extreme power that momentum brings.

In christian symbology the "Slow Train Coming" evokes the picture one side the patience and inclusiveness of God, the YES towards all who will come to peace, goodness and love, and other the other side the decision point where God's firm NO! against those that choose NOT to get on the train of goodness and who choose instead the hard road of bigotry, hatred and evil (eg. BushCheney). When the train leaves the station it does not return so it is a critical decision point whether one chooses to jump aboard or not. The train has a long way to go, but it finally seems to have left the station. All Aboard!!!