On Wednesday I drove an hour and a half to Berkeley to show support for the return of KPFA radio station to the staff and community. The experience was **TERRIFIC**.› The crowd was strikingly multiethnic and across all age groups... so much for Mary Frances Berry saying she's doing this to increase diversity!
As I was standing at the padlocked and plywood-covered doors of the station with about three dozen people waiting for several hundred others to arrive from their gathering point at the Bart (subway) station, I was very touched by one man in his late 40's who is someone this society has cast out and is probably homeless. He seemed perhaps marginally developmentally disabled and walked like he may have some sort of neurological disorder. He came barreling up on a bicycle after having been to the Bart station to report on when people would be arriving at KPFA's doors where we were. His face was shining with sweat from the exertion and he was luminescent with excitement. "They're coming," he panted joyfully with a huge smile. "About 45 minutes. There's so many and they're coming!!"
About 100 yards from the station doors, a dozen people stood with signs at the busy intersection of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Road. A couple of the signs said, "Honk if you support free speech and KPFA."› And a constant, non-stop cacophony of car horns rose into the air as nearly every passing car responded.
When the marchers arrived, I should have done a count but I'll conservatively guess somewhere around 300-plus people walked up -- signs, flags, "dream catchers" on poles, whistles, drums, and a tremendous amount of energy. The speakers were excellent. After a moving speech from an older African American woman who is on the Berkeley City Council, the rally was structured as a "Gathering of People of Faith." Each speaker was from a different spiritual tradition -- a Catholic priest, two young ministers from a nearby (Episcopal, I think) seminary, a leading person from the Buddhist Fellowship, a woman from an African tradition who smudged the station's doors to drive away the evil spirits who had closed them, and a woman who read wonderful poetry she had written for the occasion.
Only one outcome can emerge from something like this: winning back free speech and our community's radio station. ›
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