Yesterday, PCM families gathered together in fellowship and protest against the separation and detention of undocumented families both at the border and in our own more immediate communities.
The action, a collaboration between PCM and Philly InFormation: Mt. Airy, took place in the early evening, on the grounds of New Covenant Campus on Germantown Avenue. Families came with food to share and blankets to sit on, while children ran and played all around the greens. Different stations were set up around the gathering space for young people to engage in thinking about the importance of families being able to stay together. These stations included places for kids to describe some of the things their families do together, to write poetry about family and against separation and detention, and to speak their thoughts out on video. There was also a station for families to donate to Juntos, a community-led, Latinx immigrant organization in South Philadelphia fighting for our human rights as workers, parents, youth, and immigrants.
At around 7pm, PCM steering group members began to bring the group together to begin the rally. It featured a number of different speakers and leaders—some were lawyers, some were educators, all were deeply concerned community members calling for a recognition of the injustice taking place in our government and the damage it does to families that need each other more than anything. Community members shared songs with each other that focused on themes of family, community, togetherness, and justice. While speaking out against the violent way in which this country carries out immigration policy, speakers also made sure to make the connection to a larger system of state violence against Black and Brown bodies and a history of family separations that has manifested through mass incarceration in the criminal justice system.
Many young people who were present then took to the megaphone to address the larger group. Some rallied the group together in chants, seeking justice and encouraging solidarity. Chants included:
El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.
Which loosely translates to another chant they led:
The people united will never be divided.
Others shared with the group what kinds of everyday things they do together with their families.
After this, PCM steering group member, Maleka Diggs, invited everyone to join together in a circle in the open field. Diggs offered the sentence starter, “Family is…”, and invited everyone in the circle to offer endings, like “comfort”, “love”, and even “complicated”. Following this exercise, a ball of yarn was passed around from person to person, everyone holding onto a part of the same string as the ball made its way full circle. A symbol of togetherness and community with each other, Diggs emphasized that this exercise should show that we are all connected and should actively work to recognize each other as part of one community. A piece of the string was cut into bracelet-length pieces for everyone to help each other tie around their wrists.
Right in line with the theme of keeping families together, this exercise served to remind everyone present that we should think of ourselves as one family and community and that we should make absolutely sure not to take that for granted. As everything came to an end, some of the young people, again, rallied the group together with chants and participated in a concluding march around the grass.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur