Folksinger/activist, Mary Travers was born today in 1936. Her life was cut short by cancer in 2009. Mary’s voice was so clear and urgent and soothing. We listened when she sang. Pete Seeger’s song, which Mary sang beautifully with her pals, Pete Yarrow and Paul Stookey, is so appropriate today as we remember Kristallnacht, which occurred 75 years ago in Germany and Austria in 1938, 2 years after Mary was born. “Oh When Will They (sometimes “We” is also substituted) Ever Learn?”
Online I read a plea from a consortium of people in Britain exposing the hate that continues around the world.: “75 years after Kristallnacht, racists and fascists inspired by the Nazis continue to attack minorities in Europe. In Hungary neo-fascists target Gypsies and Jews. In Greece Golden Dawn members and supporters brutally attack migrants and political opponents. Here in Britain, minority communities, especially Muslims, have been targeted in an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile towards migrants and refugees. As Jewish people mindful of this history, we are equally alarmed at continuing fascist violence and the toxic sentiments expressed by many politicians and much of the media against migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and travellers. We stand shoulder to shoulder with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their efforts to live here in freedom and safety, to contribute to society, and be treated as equals. As Jews we stand together with all communities seeking to combat racism and fascism here and elsewhere.”–David Rosenberg & 212 Others
Yesterday, NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo started an investigation into an upstate school district that may have failed in its responsibility toward safeguarding their students from anti-semitic and hateful crimes and language. Gov. Cuomo stated: “The reports of rampant anti-Semitic harassment and physical assaults at Pine Bush schools, if true, are deeply disturbing,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “The public has a right to know the truth,” he added, “and parents across the state have the right to know that their children can attend our schools without fear of this reprehensible behavior.”–Benjamin Weiser, NY Times, 11/8/13
Mary Travers sang out against hate in all of its nasty forms. “The daughter of politically aware newspaper reporters, Mary grew up in the stimulating Greenwich Village arts community. A love of music and a strong social consciousness came naturally, and by the time Mary was a teenager, she was singing on Pete Seeger’s records. Many gold and platinum albums later, she’s stayed true to the urban folk tradition and to an activist’s sense of responsibility.”-peterpaulandmary site
Peter, Paul and Mary were there with Dr. King in Washington, D.C. in 1963 singing “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowin In the Wind.” Music still has the power to teach, to transform, to heal.
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
Here’s a favorite of mine (written by the late great John Denver):