Sunday, November 24, 2013

#328 / We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

This phrase ("we are the ones we have been waiting for") was spoken by Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign for the Presidency

Alice Walker wrote a book by that title, published in 2006. 

Sweet Honey in the Rock sang a song with that title that was included in an album released in 1998. 

Peter Levine, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship, has searched out the origins of the saying, and he says that the first use of this phrase comes from a "Poem for South African Women," written by June Jordan, and presented at the United Nations on August 9, 1978.  

This phrase ("we are the ones we have been waiting for") is worth remembering. We might want to use it again sometime. It continues to be true. 


Poem for South African Women

Commemoration of the 40,000 women and children who, August 9, 1956, presented themselves in bodily protest against the “dompass” in the capital of apartheid. Presented at The United Nations, August 9, 1978.

Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world

The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire

And the babies cease alarm as mothers
raising arms
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open

And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea

we are the ones we have been waiting for

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