“Families Belong Together” Holds Rally on the Village Green
Joining a nationwide protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies, more than 200 people rallied on Davidson’s Village Green on Saturday morning. Organized by Davidson residents Lindsey and Rusty Miller with help from MoveOn.org, the event began with remarks by a Navy veteran and ended with the protesters singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”
Rusty Miller convened the mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children who assembled on the shaded green before the Davidson Library, as temperatures climbed on the last day of June 2018. Many carried signs declaring that “Families Belong Together,” to protest the separation and incarceration of families at America’s southern border.
Jane Campbell, who serves on the Davidson Board of Commissioners, spoke first, drawing from her 25-year career as an officer in the United States Navy. She reminded the protesters that so much of the instability in South and Central America “was and is caused by the seemingly unending demand for illegal drugs from the United States. We continue to import the drugs and export the violence surrounding the cultivation and transportation of those drugs.”
Anticipating Independence Day, Campbell said, “I am the last person to say that things have been smooth sailing in our country for the past two-and-a-half centuries. Through it all – through all the struggles in our nation – brave, strong people have stepped up. This is one of the times that requires people to step up.”
Barbara Randolph, a volunteer advocate for immigration justice working in the Northern Corridor, fired up the crowd by sharing her own frustration with a “policy that transcends partisan politics and hits us all.”
The protesters cheered and applauded Randolph’s reminder that “We lose only when we get quiet.”
Randolph urged people to get involved, vote in November, and “fight against policies that don´t define your family values,” and concluded with constructive ideas for taking action, listing Davidson’s Ada Jenkins Center, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and donating clothing to Lydia´s Loft in Huntersville, where clients receive clothing for free.
Next to speak was Jennifer Howland-Smith, South Carolina Captain for Lawyer Moms of America, a non-partisan group that began as a few “lawyer moms” and grew to 15,000 strong.
She said, “Yesterday, over 11,000 letters were hand delivered to Senators and Representatives across the country in their home and DC offices.” Those letters called for an “end to the abhorrent practice of forcibly separating migrant children from their parents,” citing the Constitution and case law that protects due process and ensures that anyone “whose presence in this country is unlawful, involuntary, or transitory is entitled to that constitutional protection.”
As if speaking in court, Howland-Smith summarized: “The continued separation of these families is an egregious violation of procedural due process, substantive due process, and federal asylum law. It is arbitrary and capricious in violation of federal law. It must be remedied by immediate reunification.”
Rabbi Michael Shields of Davidson, the final speaker, wove his remarks with poetry and scripture readings that support the values captured in the Emma Lazurus poem that graces America’s Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Quoting from Leviticus, Rabbi Michael’s voice carried this message across the Village Green: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him.”
As the program drew to a close, those gathered lifted their voices to sing the original, unexpurgated version of Woody Guthrie’s anthem, “This Land is Your Land,” including the following verse:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
Sign was painted, said “private property”
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
This land was made for you and me.
A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.