The following is a speech I gave at the Solidarity Rally in Burlington on Friday, June 26, 2020. I’ve also included a link to a video of the rally itself, which lasted about 50 minutes. Thank you for your interest and consideration.
Solidarity Rally: That Time Has Come
Good Afternoon, my name is Arnold Isidore Thomas, and I am fortunate to serve as Pastor to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho, Vermont. I am also a member of the Steering Committee of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance founded by Rev. Mark Hughes. And we are here to raise our voices and join our lives in solidarity against the violence and injustice that has been directed against black and brown people, and poor people of every race since the inception of this nation.
As we approach America’s Independence Day, we need to remember that of the fifty-seven signers of our Declaration of Independence, the majority of them (forty-one) enslaved African Americans, including Northern representatives such as Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire, John Hancock of Massachusetts, and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. So, when they said that all men are created equal, they meant white men.
But for nearly two and a half centuries, those who were not included in their understanding of equality have relied upon another portion of this Declaration that is so often overlooked, which says that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
That time has come. It is, in fact, long overdue when a system of government established by a slave-holding plutocracy must die so that true democracy may finally live.
We must dismantle a system of law enforcement and criminal justice, from the local police department to the Supreme Court, that was established to protect and empower the wealthy few against the rest of us. That time has come!
We must dismantle a system of economic and political privilege that has favored white wealthy men, who have suppressed our voting rights, civil rights, human rights, and have shut out, pushed out, or blocked out everyone else because of the color of their skin, the identity of their gender, the orientation of their sex, the morality of their ethical or religious beliefs, or the origin of their nationality. That time has come.
It is time to claim our God-given rights as Americans and citizens of this world to alter or abolish this antiquated, immoral and unjust system of government and uphold the sacred principles that we have yet to embrace: that all created equal and “are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That time has come. This is our time. Don’t let anyone snatch it away from you.
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