By Jim Hightower on January 23, 2014

Rosa Parks became a powerful symbol of courage and defiance in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by simply refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus, as the racist culture of that time dictated she was supposed to do.

Only, there was nothing simple about it. As personally courageous as she was, Ms. Parks was not alone that day, nor was her defiance simply the spontaneous reaction of a woman who was tired -- tired after a long day of work, tired of domineering white rule, tired of going along to get along. Parks was part of a deep and wide grassroots movement for African-American rights and dignity. It was this movement that developed the sit-down strategy, trained Parks for this moment of refusal, and surrounded her with the support and love she needed to withstand the clamor of hate that followed. Rosa Parks was not alone on that bus.

Half a century later, a new movement for justice is following in the footsteps and in the spirit of those earlier civil rights activists. Steadily building broad grassroots coalitions of civil rights groups, labor, church leaders, students, teachers, environmentalists, retirees, and others, this movement is literally moving through southern states. It is gaining popular support by directly confronting the immorality of extremist governors, legislators, and corporate lobbyists who're denying health care to poor families, preventing both the elderly and students from voting, gutting state funding for public education, and generally legislating a permanent state of inequality and injustice for millions of people.

This promising progressive uprising began last year in North Carolina as the "Moral Monday" movement, named for its weekly peaceful protests at the state capitol. It has now spread to "Moral Monday Georgia" and "Truthful Tuesday" in South Carolina. To follow its progress and offer support, go to www.naacpnc.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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