Common Ground Street Choir, Activism Through Song – UUPP 036

Peaceful, Non-violent Protest through song from the Common Ground Street Choir of Dallas, Texas.

 

Kathy Smith, Anita Mills and Pat McAfee lead this activist singing group around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They hope to expand with new chapters of the Common Ground Street Choir in other counties in the near future. From civil rights to job rights all songs have various verses to fit the moment. In February of 2015 they

went to Austin to lobby legislators on inequallity in pay and reproductive rights, singing in the rotunda. Pat will tell you, “The Common Ground Street Choir has been a joyful process since it’s inception at GA in Providence and one into which I can pour my peace and justice passion and off-key alto.”

Here’s How It All Started:

Emma’s Revolution threw down the gauntlet at their workshop at GA. They said we’ve lost the peaceful nonviolent protests of the 60s and 70s. Now, no one seems to know the songs – or sings at protests and marches.  Now it’s the three-word chant, which is confrontational.

They challenged congregations to start Revolutionary Street Choirs to show up at protests to SING the message, and teach the old songs and bring some new ones, too. Singing evokes emotion.  It’s a peaceful, nonviolent way to convey a message.  And it can create magic.

The take-away if you feel the slight bit interested in creating a similar group:

Holler along, harmonize at will, and you’re a passionate street choir.

Common Ground Street Choir Dallas TexasBios:

Anita Mills is a lifelong Unitarian and is currently serving as President of the North Texas Unitarian Universalist Congregational cluster. She is a co-founder of the Common Ground Street Choir, which fields members to sing at protests and rallies. Anita works with Grow North Texas to help urban agriculture efforts succeed, particularly in food deserts.

Kathy Smith is currently the Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth for the Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Plano, TX. She has been a lifelong musician, educator, and social activist.

Pat McAfee signed her first Book on Christmas Eve 1980 in Lubbock, TX and is now a member of the UU Church of Oak Cliff in Dallas, TX. As those who prefer small congregations understand, many hats have decorated her head in service to both these churches over the years. Currently Pat serves as the UUCOC representative to the North Texas Unitarian Universalist Congregations cluster and co-chair of NTUUC’s Education Committee.

Favorite Quotes:

Anita:

1. Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
from a song by Violeta Parra
Translation: Thank you to life which has given me so much

2. (my own – soon to be bumper sticker!) You can change the world!

Kathy:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. – Theodore Parker

Links:

Video of our Legislative Action Day – incl. choir singing in rotunda of Texas State Capitol
 It’s story and songsheets can be accessed at:
Link to our FaceBook page “Common Ground Street Choir”

Final Credits: music thanks to:

“Carefree”, “Open Those Bright Eyes”, “Sweeter Vermouth”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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