Many of us from the San Francisco Bay Area Episcopal churches marched today to support immigration reform. I picked up my 17-year-old daughter Jessica after school and we joined the march here in San Jose.
It was hot but fun: the Mercury News said there were 100,000 people. It was hard to tell from the middle of things but it was very crowded along most of the five mile route. Everyone seemed energetic and cheerful. There were groups providing music along the way – some electronic, some live, some on the sides and some marching with us – even a group in Aztec-style full feather headdresses who danced the entire route. Lots of families with little kids marched (many of the kids were either in strollers or flopped over a parental shoulder asleep after the first few blocks).
The most common clothing was a white t-shirt with some slogan. Most people had flags – mostly American but some from Mexico, Central or South America – or signs. Jessica and I walked the whole way (from the corner of Story and King to Guadalupe Park downtown) and never saw anyone we knew but we had a good time anyway. We kept looking for the group of Episcopal clergy but we never found them. We were told
to look for their banner saying “Honor the Contributions” and we could only find one saying “Honor our Contributors” so we walked with that group for a while.
As the Convener of DIEM (the Department of Intercultural Evangelism and Mission) for our diocese of El Camino Real, I support ECR’s Peace and Justice Commission and the Standing Committee in formally promoting immigration reform (with a focus on legislation and policy changes).
The text that Peace and Justice drafted is such a wonderful mix of parliamentary procedure and deep belief, it is interesting to read. It starts off…
- WHEREAS we have promised in our Baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves; to strive for justice and peace among all people; and to respect the dignity of every human being;
- WHEREAS Christ calls us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, tend to the sick, and visit the imprisoned;
- WHEREAS our Scriptures reflect a profound empathy with the plight of exiles, teaching us that it is right to love foreigners, and to give them food and clothing ; that when strangers live with us in our land, we must not mistreat them or oppress them; and we must love them as we love ourselves; …
Jessica came home with some good basic lessons in the realities of free speech in the form of a public march:
- Stay with your group, no matter what
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks
- Bring water and small snacks
- Wear a hat
She also said that she had never seen so many Hispanic people she did not know. Jessica said that after 3 hours of walking, she feels a strong physical commitment to the Hispanic community and the immigration debate.
I hope that both the new diocesan immigration reform policy and today’s march will help bring about much-needed change in how our country treats its most recent immigrants.
My feet hurt.