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Fri Aug 16, 2013, 08:19 AM

How Can We Keep from Singing



http://callenharty.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/1188/


How Can We Keep from Singing

For two and a half years singers have been meeting at the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda to sing songs of protest against the Scott Walker administration and the slew of conservative legislation that has passed with the right-wing control of the Capitol and all branches of government. For about the same amount of time–because I cannot get there during the noon hour most days–I have been going almost every day after work during the week and whenever I can get there on the weekends to sing four verses of “We Shall Overcome”. Lately my friend Ryan Wherley has been showing up sometime after 5:00 to sing until the building closes at 6:00. Sometimes he sings by himself, sometimes others join him. I’ve joined him a couple times, though I will not sing with him when he breaks into “How Can I Keep From Singing” because it is too perfect. His voice rises to the top of the dome and echoes back down like a chorus of angels singing a lullaby to the people of the state. It is incredible.

Today I sang after work, but had something else going on at 6:00, so I decided to wait around and see if Ryan would be there to sing. When I came back into the building I saw him up on the first floor with two other friends. As I looked up they started to sing “We Shall Overcome”. I went up the stairs to join them in song. What better, more joyous way to speak our concerns? What more peaceful avenue of protest could there possibly be? Who could resent the beauty of song as a way to say, “I love my state and I’m sorry about what is happening to it, and I must sing truth to power?” Well, as anyone in Wisconsin knows the conservatives in charge of the madhouse that is now our Capitol despise it. In the last two weeks there have been about 200 arrests of people for singing, from an octogenarian couple to a 16-year old boy, from young women to old men, from rich to poor, well-dressed to shabby, clean-shaven to bearded, good singers and bad, and everything in between, a microcosm of the farmers, merchants, miners, businesspersons, and others who make up this great state.

When I sing by myself I do not face arrest, because one is less than a group of twenty, the number Capitol police have erroneously and unconstitutionally determined constitutes an unlawful assembly. When Ryan and a couple others show up there are no arrests because two, three, or four are still less than twenty. You might sense if the right person is on duty that they would love to get the handcuffs out, but they cannot, at least for now. So there is none of the tension, stress, and absurd antics of the Capitol police late in the day, and there are generally few people there to hear the lyrics drifting through the marble halls and settling like dust on the empty desks of legislators who don’t want to hear anything that contradicts their conservative notion of the world.

Today the place was fairly full. There were several couples and small groups wandering around, a large group of people being led on what appeared to be a private tour, a couple families, a few straggling employees, and one cop who looked like the last thing he wanted to hear was any kind of protest, even in song. When I sing I never know how people will react. Sometimes they applaud, sometimes they give thumbs down, most of the time they pretend I’m not there because it’s easier to ignore the protest than to engage and find out what the issue might be. Today the four of us who sang late in the day had several incredibly different reactions to our singing.

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Reply How Can We Keep from Singing (Original post)
Scuba Aug 2013 OP
ewagner Aug 2013 #1
Lefta Dissenter Aug 2013 #2
midnight Aug 2013 #3

Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Aug 16, 2013, 09:43 AM

1. Read the whole post at the link..

It's beautiful...and encouraging.

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Response to ewagner (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 16, 2013, 03:57 PM

2. Callen is one of the sweetest men ever. <3

And a wonderful writer and photographer.

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Response to ewagner (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 16, 2013, 06:46 PM

3. If We shall overcome lyrics upset this women because of her child hearing them, I wonder what music

she allows her child to listen to.... I hope not away in the manger at Christmas.... Baby crying and homeless and all could get mighty disruptive during such a beautiful holiday time....


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