Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie joined Occupy Wall Street protesters on Friday night concluding a march with a performance of what was probably the standout song of the African-American Civl Rights Movement – “We Shall Overcome.” Meanwhile residents near the protest park encampment pushed to regain some peace and quiet in their neighborhood.
The civil rights movement had very clear objectives and a completely logical agenda – it attracted sympathizers from all walks of life and was ultimately very successful in achieving its aims.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began a month ago in lower Manhattan among a few young people, and while it has grown to tens of thousands of demonstrators around the country and the world, its objectives remain vague. Still, a recent Associated Press-GfK poll says more than one-third of the country supports the Wall Street protesters, and even more 58 say they are ‘furious’ about America’s politics.
Protesters say they are concerned about income inequality in a post-bailout, high-unemployment economy. They say they’re upset the top one per cent of earners are improving their incomes at the expense of the remaining 99 per cent, with many middle- and low- income earners left behind.
As best as I can tell the clearest and most important objective of the movement is to reduce and even end the disproportionate big-money/corporate influence on government – to get government working to help the population, not just corporations.
Seeger replaced his banjo with two canes as he marched with throngs of people in New York City’s tony Upper West Side past banks and shiny department stores.
The 92-year-old Seeger, accompanied by musician-grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, composer David Amram and bluesman Guy Davis, shouted out the verses of protest anthems as the crowd of about 1,000 people sang and chanted.
They marched peacefully over more than 30 blocks from Symphony Space, where the Seegers and other musicians performed, to Columbus Circle. Police watched from the sidelines… .
Pete Seeger must be the oldest and best loved protester in America. In the 40’s and 50’s he was a popular radio personality and performer spearheading the American Folkmusic Revival – then Pete was blacklisted for being a suspected communist during the McCarthy Era – then in the 60’s he made it back to mainstream popularity with the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements. Now at 92 Pete is marching again – wow!