Spring is always known as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, as winter thaws and flowers begin unfurl from the ground. This season of rejuvenation offers a ripe moment for collective recommitment to building a more just world. This abundance is always palpable on the first day of May, a long celebrated annual day of public protest. May 1st, also known as May Day, is International Worker’s Day. Originally chosen to commemorate the Haymarket affair, an 1886 labor demonstration by Chicago workers, who were striking for an eight-hour workday and against the killing of workers by police when the peaceful turned violent with a dynamite bomb. This moment in labor history is honored each year as May 1st, where people march to continue a legacy of workers’ resistance. In more recent years, May Day has also been designated as a day to lift up immigrants’ struggles and movements towards ending deportations and creating justice for undocumented folks.
Each year in Seattle, there is a huge march by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition. This inspirational day of public protest is not just a one-off day of action. It represents dedicated and transformative long haul organizing around multiple and intersecting issues, led by communities of color. As apart of the Seattle Youth Coalition, Youth Speaks Seattle seeks to be apart of the ongoing movement along with other youth-driven organizations. It is essential that young folks are in leadership in these liberatory struggles. Youth Speaks Seattle leaders marched with other young artists and activists. The diverse demands chanted by crowds represented the power of May Day to bring together multiple and intersecting issues of economic, climate and racial justice. In the crowd, a #BlackLivesMatter contingent carried a huge sign that read “Stop Fucking Killing Us”. They moved with dignity and power through the streets, followed by organizers from the Model Minority Mutiny Contingent, Youth and Student Coalition, Womxn of Color and Families Contingent and many more. Signs boldly connected climate justice, indigenous sovereignty, API solidarity with BlackLivesMatter, the #Not1More deportation movement, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, ending Israeli apartheid and more. The streets spoke to the power of frontline leadership and allies joining together to agitate, mourn, rejoice and vision onwards.
As a way to continue the education, transformation and mobilization of May Day, Youth Speaks hosted our second-ever Liberation Open Mic. This special edition of our monthly open mic is an opportunity to lift up the revolutionary potential of art to shift culture. Shifting culture can mean so many different things. Our open mics provide fertile ground to change hearts & minds, to gather energy in community and speak truth to power. The Liberation Open Mic offered youth and adult allies space to share and create with another. In the warm Spring air, we held the open mic outside where poets, rappers and musicians shared truth and showcased their work. We had a feature from three cultural workers and comrades at Anakbayan Seattle (a Youth and Student org working towards national democracy & liberation in the Philippines), Nikki Caintic, Richard Arcelo and Enrico Abadesco. As the full moon rose above Beacon Hill, we cyphered and laughed and sung together. The night ended with a joyful and spontaneous musical collaboration between Anakbayan and YSS artists. From the march to the mic, the radical legacy of May 1st continued with the voices of youth at the forefront. May we continue our collective work towards a more just world, with the budding Spring energy at our backs!
Some organizations to learn about & support
El Comité: https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Comité/
Anakbayan Seattle: https://www.facebook.com/anakbayan.seattle
Women of Color for Systemic Change: https://www.facebook.com/WOCFSC
Got Green?: https://gotgreenseattle.org/
Teen Artist Program Coordinator