MLA Song and Dance

On Thursday March 5th, Melrose Leadership Academy held the first TK-5th Grade Choral Concert in Oakland, California. (You can view a photo gallery of The Choral Concert here.) Earlier this school year, MLA held its annual Dance-a-thon. (I have included dance-a-thon images at the bottom and a gallery here.) Since today is International Women’s Day and yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I thought that I would revisit a quote painted on one of the murals where my two children attend school… the quote is about dancing across bridges.

Si no puedo bailar tu revolución no me interesa – Emma Goldman

 (bryan farley)

Melrose Leadership Academy is a dual immersion public school in Oakland. (It is not a charter school.) The kids at MLA are smarter than I am. I can only speak English, and I often forget how to speak and write in my first (and only) language. When my daughter translated the Goldman quote into English for me, I understood that Goldman was advising advocates that social movements needed charisma. If you can’t dance at the revolution, why bother?

 (bryan farley)

We bother. We dance and sing at Melrose Leadership Academy. We enjoy ourselves, but we also work hard. The kids work hard too. When we have events (and we have many), students prepare. When events finish, students clean up. It takes a village to cross bridges.

 (bryan farley)

Oakland has been called “The New Brooklyn.” I don’t know what this means. When I hear the reference, I think that someone is fixing to sell me a bridge. No offense to Brooklyn, but it isn’t even Harlem (or Selma). On my other blog, I have been contemplating whether Oakland is becoming the New Topeka. Some decent New Oaklanders learned how to maintain a segregated school system by any means necessary, either by crossing a bridge to another district or by building a bridge that would separate their children from lives that matter less than their own children.

 (bryan farley)

Would I have been brave enough to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago? I doubt it. Is public education the Pettus Bridge of today? I am less certain of this question, but it feels like a bridge to cross. In the East Bay, we have built another segregated school system. We might call our New Topeka “school choice” or “neighborhood school” or another term that does not pass the smell test, but we know that our grandchildren will ask us in 50 years where we stood.

 (bryan farley)

Life Magazine covered Bloody Sunday. You can almost hear the clubs striking the bones. You can feel the attitudes changing when the images became public. The news reports yesterday were overwhelmingly positive. The marchers inspired everyone, or nearly everyone, from Fox News to MSNBC.

 (bryan farley)

The time changed during the night. We lost an hour (or we gained an hour.) Time changes that way. We lose an hour and we gain an hour… and then we seem to give it back again. We lose and gain. As children grow up, they watch adults. Children learn from our actions and benefit from our sacrifices. There have been many Bloody Sunday’s. The band U2 wrote a song about a different Bloody Sunday that includes the line,

“We eat and drink so tomorrow they die….”

It’s tomorrow.



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