Pull down the walls, fix the schools, hold the elections, and stop the wars. How many times do we have to ask?
Today in Houston, we ask again.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, from the 18th District of Texas, standing at the steps of Houston City Hall, reminds us that one third of Congress voted against the Iraq war. She asks again. Stop the war in Iraq.
Erik Gustafson of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) reminds us that elections in Iraq could be held by year’s end. He asks again. Let them vote in Iraq.
Linda Sobeh, President of the Palestinian American Congress, reminds us that Israel is building a wall on Palestinian soil. She asks again. Take the wall down.
Houston City Council Representative Ada Edwards reminds us that children in Houston need some nation-building of their own. She asks again. Take care of the children of Houston.
And Cardinal Aswad Walker, co-pastor of The Shrine Of The Black Madonna, reminds us that we have been here before. And he asks again. Don’t forget to come back.
Houston City Hall seems a brave building today. It stands ten stories high, five windows wide, made of Texas Cordova limestone, each little pock-mark in the shape of one life lived so many millions of years ago.
And across the modest park, with its limestone plaza and its reflecting pool, way up over the tops of Texas Live Oaks, stands another building. One Shell Plaza. It glares down at the rally, fifty stories tall, thirty windows wide.
The reflection of City Hall is swallowed up in only a few windows at One Shell Plaza. Just like all those little lives from millions of years ago have been swallowed up in the raw materials of big oil.
The voters of the 18th District have an impressive record. Before Sheila Jackson Lee, they sent Mickey Leeland to Washington, and before that they sent Barbara Jordan. In 1976, Barbara Jordan delivered the keynote address to a Democratic Convention in New York. Here’s what she said then:
“Many fear the future, Many are distrustful of their leaders, and believe that their voices are never heard. Many seek only to satisfy their private work wants. To satisfy private interests.
“But this is the great danger America faces. That we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual. Each seeking to satisfy private wants.
“If that happens, who then will speak for America?
“Who then will speak for the common good?”
And then, today, walking past the bus stops, brushing against the working people of the 18th Congressional District, through the swept-clean streets of the skyline district, across the parking lot of the Petroleum Club, and past the world headquarters of Exxon/Mobil, I wonder.
Houston, remind me, why do we have to ask all these things again?