Dialogue Questions – John Lewis’s Speech at the March on Washington (and notes on fascism)

Hi friends,

Just a reminder that we will be meeting again this Sunday at 7PM EST/5 PM MDT (Ellie’s finally arriving in Denver this weekend so she has officially switched time zones, which means we’re biregional now). 

Joann (our tech queen who usually runs our zooms) is moving her own life from NYC to FLL this weekend, too, so our zoom link is different! Hooray, but also make sure this one is the one you click. Thanks in advance for your patience as we navigate breakout rooms without Jo’s expertise this week! 🙂

Meeting ID: 873 7144 6762
Password: 5SUqg9


This week, we’re talking about being political in our anti-racism, inspired by the legacy of Rep. John Lewis – specifically, his speech at the March on Washington. We will be generally dialoguing about these questions:

John Lewis’s Speech at the March on Washington // Transcript of Speech 

  1. In what ways does Representative Lewis’s speech still ring true to what you’ve seen and heard about movements today? In what ways did you feel like his words were distant?
  2. Did any internal feelings of resistance come up when you were asked to be political in your anti-racism? If so, what were those feelings?
  3. In the past, when have you, as a person with some level of privilege told others to “be patient and wait”? What were they asking for? Why did you want them to “be patient”?
  4. Rep. Lewis says, “Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?” What do you think that it would take to create that political party? 
  5. Is the argument “some progress is better than no progress” detracting from the overall goals of true reform?

And here’s one more treat for anyone who wants more Rep. Lewis content, as a sort of salve on these fractured times, here’s a conversation with Rep. Lewis and Bryan Stevenson, the founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative (yep, the same Bryan Stevenson that Just Mercy is about). 


[we admit we are feeling a little weird about adding what we’re about to say (in no small part because of that characteristic of white supremacy culture of fear of open conflict) but we’d be betraying our values if we weren’t honest and clear about the following:]

What’s happening with the Department of Homeland Security and its occupation of our communities, from border towns to major cities where protestors are speaking out in defense of Black lives is abjectly racist, and a heinous abuse of power. However, this past week of feds in Portland is NOT a fluke or an accident: DHS has terrorized undocumented people and people they assumed were undocumented for years (Emily knows this intimately, she’s seen it many, many times, both while working with migrant farmworkers in SC and while visiting the Nogales-Sonora point of entry at the border of Mexico). Now, the feds are terrorizing protestors with the Movement for Black Lives in Oregon (going so far as to tear gas Portland’s Mayor, Ted Wheeler) and allegedly moving into ChicagoMinneapolis, and other major cities this weekend. We want to name within this group that what’s happening with DHS/CBP/ICE agents invading cities and arresting people without cause or legal explanation is fascism. Coming into communities for the sake of protecting federal monuments, picking people up in unmarked vans, and essentially serving as a secret police force is fascism. And honestly, these agencies’ behaviors toward immigrant and Black communities, as old as the agencies themselves, have always been fascist

Fascism is a far-right authoritarian nationalism in which a central leader maintains total power by forcibly suppressing any opposition or criticism through deploying myriad violent forces, tightly regimenting all commerce, and emphasizing aggressive nationalism and racism.

In the words of Angela Davis, “there is no fascism without racism.” Fascism and white supremacy are in a hungry feedback loop. And we feel that much like our duty with anti-racism, is our duty to starve these white supremacist, fascist systems by interrupting them whenever and wherever we see them. 

We are doing all of this unlearning to ultimately preserve, protect, uplift Black lives. At its core, these protests are anti-racism work, happening on our streets, in our cities. When you opted in to receive these emails, you felt invested in anti-racism work in some capacity. It is our most sincere hope that this newsletter has stoked an appropriate level of skepticism of the systems that have helped construct an unjust world. It is our most sincere hope that this skepticism will propel all of us to name racism, fascism, and white supremacy when we see them so that we can work against this triad of injustice with whatever tools are available to us at the moment. We hope this weekend our readers will lean into our personal anti-racism fights more intimately this weekend, whether by attending a solidarity march in your city, or doing the internal work of learning more about the warning signs of fascism and reckoning with our own beliefs about our country and world. (And if you DO plan to go to an action in your city, we are excited for you! Make sure to look over these tips to keep you safe while you’re in the streets. Whose streets? Our streets.

As federal troops make their way into many cities across the US this weekend, Emily’s been thinking a lot about this quote that she’s clung to for the past few years:

“Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed. That word is Nazi, no one cares about their motives anymore.” – Julius Goat

We (Ellie and Emily) believe that it is our duty to constantly work,within ourselves and the broader world that we are members of,to betray white supremacy and the systems that uphold it. We hope that you will recognize your own discomfort as growing pains, and stick around with us to strive to do the same, within whatever capacity feels real and accessible for you right now. 

We can’t wait to see you Sunday, ready to chat!

In solidarity,
Ellie and Emily

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