On a very cold first day of May, immigrants and allies gathered on the steps of the St. Paul Cathedral for a “March for Emancipation.” The t-shirts prepared for the march, which read “I am a Slave”, were used not only as a proclamation, but as an additional layer of warmth as participants wrapped their ears against the cold wind. [Videos below.]
The rally and march began at the Cathedral and culminated at the State Capitol. Speakers from immigrant and faith communities decried increased arrests and deportations of undocumented workers and other injustices faced by immigrants.
Brad Capouch, Pastor of Sagrado Carazon de Jesus in Minneapolis, called for emancipation from “the new slavery” that allows an oppressive system to benefit from immigrant labor.
Quoting from Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, Steven Renderos described the situation of undocumented immigrants as analogous to slavery. He spoke of the injustices of the current immigration laws and called for changes that would give immigrants greater rights and dignity. He said that the rally was not a plea for reform, but rather declaration of a new vision of liberty and justice for immigrants, a new vision called emancipation. “The time has arrived to march to a new drumbeat,” he said, recalling the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Freedom is not given voluntarily by the oppressor, but must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Quoting James Russell Lowell’s words, “They are slaves who fear to speak / For the fallen and the weak,” Renderos said “our silence makes us slaves to our inaction.”