a couple of months ago i was on a piece of special and haunted land in north carolina with BOLD. i was facilitating our national gathering, where we had a lot to look back on and look forward to – #blacklivesmatter was born of three BOLD participants and as we vision the future there is not only the terror of the ongoing and escalating violence against black and brown communities, but in this moment the joy of movement, of having thousands in the streets together, of feeling like justice is possible.
that saturday morning i woke up from a dream in which i was in a massive crowd marching, dancing, singing and blowing brass band horns to a song i had never heard before. i sang it into my phone, and then i couldn’t stop singing and humming it as i got ready. freedom song, freedom song, i got to sing my freedom song – i love my people oh i love us so. i got my freedom and i won’t let go.
then i went into the morning session where sister-doctor alexis pauline gumbs led us in a practice of chanting in small groups using the words of brilliant black feminist ancestors. my group worked with the words of harriet tubman, ‘my people are free’. as with many of the words passed down from tubman, this declaration is futuristic, complex. but as we chanted it, it became – oh – so tender, so simple, so clear that that was the truth that everything tries to make us forget. we wept and rocked and laughed together, and i can still the way each of the women in my circle co-created the opening we felt.
that evening the rest of the song came – black lives matter. black lives matter. black lives matter to me. your life matters, my life matters, black lives matter to me!
i recorded the whole thing wearing my #blacklivesmatter hoodie, my uniform for the latter half of 2014. i sent it to the BLM team for feedback and they posted it. one of the people who saw it, another brilliant black woman in the lineage of harriet tubman, is phaedra ellis-lamkins. because of her, with the help of the black lives matter team (patrisse, alicia, opal and damon), and the recording support of invincible – the song now has an incredible video full of the moments that inspired this song.
here is the video.
my next dream to sing it at a march with a brass band, dancing.