A tribute to Olen Edwards was published in the Okemah News Leader in conjunction with the recent Woodyfest celebration. You can read the article here.
The Okfuskee County Historical Society in Woody Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma are considering making the Okemah Waltz, which Larry wrote with children from Okemah in 1986-87 for their first hometown celebration of Woody, their official town song!
Woody Guthrie fans descended on Okemah Friday to listen to folk music and honor the historic icon at the 15th annual Woody Guthrie Festival. The event falls on what would have been Guthrie’s 100th birthday Saturday.
For the full article and video, click here.
If you are in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 1, Sunday, please come to this remarkable cultural gathering in celebration and support of our friends from Tibet. Larry will be performing with the Pavarotti of gospel music, Robert Robinson.
Time and Place
Friday, May 25th from 5:30pm onward at the home of Gail Daneker and Ian Keith (1791 Dayton Ave., Between Marshall and Selby/Fairview and Wheeler …in St. Paul, Minnesotal)
About Save Our Sons
Save our Sons started by Melvin W. Carter Jr. two decades is still at it. SOS continues to touch the lives of young men struggling to avoid inner city traps, snares and pitfalls. SOS spearheads it’s community driven Stop the Bleeding/Start the Breathing-Crime Prevention Initiatives by recruiting and enlisting community partners. Partners include (but in no way are limited to) local elders, neighbors, faith communities, schools, elected officials, other like heartened organizations, law enforcement, corrections and any and everyone with a heart for best outcomes. Over the past two years Save Our Sons has worked to publish the SOS Bulletin Series, 7 workbook lessons from the core teachings of SOS. In our publications and in our all services we work to challenge the notion that gang involvement, drugs and violence are the solution to the problems that young men we meet are born into. When we challenge these notions, they listen. When we support these youth to investigate these questions we launch a more powerful journey within them than the one that calls them to the street. Please join us in this work. In 2010, Melvin received the Natalie S. Bimel Award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Outstanding Contributions to Juvenile Detention Reform by a Community Member for his work advancing social justice for communities of color.
SOS is a tax deductible 501C3 organization.For more information: Gail or Ian at 651-647-5798
Larry will be performing with Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott and Billy Peterson at WoodyFest in Okemah, Oklahoma for Woody Guthrie’s Centennial Celebration, July 11-15, 2012, in Woody’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. Other performers include: Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins, Melanie, Billy Bragg, and more!
Larry organized the the first hometown tribute for Woody Guthrie at the Crystal Theatre in Okemah, Oklahoma, on December 1, 1988. The work that Long did with the Okemah community grew into the annual Woody Guthrie festival, still held every year on Woody’s birthday.
Additional artists include: Radoslav Lorkovic, Nancy Apple, Monica Taylor, Susan Herndon, Damn Quails, Miss Brown to You, Butch Hancock, Red Dirt Rangers, 3 Penny Acre, Samantha Crain, Michael Prysock, Mike Blackwell, Bob Livingston, Bochilders Memorial Set, Bill Chambers, Burns Sisters, Michael Fracasso, Ronny Cox, Ramsay Midwood, Johnsmith, Carolyn Hester, John Fullbright, John McCutcheon, Joel Rafael, Jimmy LaFave, Greg Jacobs, Happenstance, Grant Peeples, Butch Morgan, Lauren Lee & Liberty Road, Mike Stinson, Randy Crouch, Ronny Elliot, Catherine Britt, Audrey Auld, Don Conoscenti, Sam Baker, Kevin & Dustin Welch, David Amram, Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, Ellis Paul, and more.
The town of Section is celebrating the essence of its heritage this weekend with a special community program to honor town history and student involvement.
For the past year, students at Section High School have been involved in the project by recording community history through interviews and video recordings as told by community elders. Students also undertook an in depth photography project on landmarks and people in the community.
Section, Section, Section
Words & music by Larry Long with Alex Gage Little, Ivie Jayne Atchley, Harley Carson, Pacey Carson, Travis Gentry, and Sherry Hancock
Living life, making a living
Working hands all through the week
Fellowship on Sundays, word of God
Hear the choir sing
On Eagles wings
Keep Dancing. Keep singing.
Celebrating your life
Keep Dancing. Keep singing.
Celebrating your life
Section, Section Section
The place where we live
Section, Section, Section
We have so much give
Keep Dancing. Keep singing.
Section, Section, Section
Celebrate your life
Breaking ground together
Sharing the fruits of the land
Red ripe tomatoes
Growing in the fresh garden sand
Across the land
With the heart of a lion
Lifting up a prayer
The foundation of our Sand Mountain
Home of homes
We are friends
We are family
We are neighbors in this town
We are strong in our faith
In each other we are found
On Thursday, April 26, the North Community YMCA & Teen Enrichment Center played host to Elders’ Circle 2012, which gathered elders representing various West Metro area school districts and communities.
These elders were honored by Elder’s Wisdom Children’s Song, a program that creates intergenerational relationships and learning opportunities for young people through the experiences of elders. West Metro Education Program (WMEP), a consortium of 11 districts that includes Minneapolis and the surrounding metro area, hired nationally known Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and activist Larry Long, who created Elder’s Wisdom Children’s Song, to produce and present the event in multiple sites around the West Metro area. Over the past six years, the program has honored over 350 elders from various West Metro communities.
Larry’s work on the Mississippi River is featured in this month’s “Big River Magazine”.
Grassroots Concert Series will feature Larry alongside Cory Wong. Read more here.
“Since I was young, at an early age, no one seemed to care what I had to say. If they only knew what we’ve been through, they would say, oh my god, what can I do?”
The above excerpt is from “Freedom,” a song written and recorded by two young girls imprisoned in a children’s detention center, with the help of Larry Long.
The Southern Poverty Law Center works to ensure that our children’s rights advocacy is informed and shaped in collaboration with the youth for whom we work. Despite the fact that the children we work with are frequently neglected by their schools or abused by juvenile justice systems, these youths possess an incredible resiliency and have profound insights about the systems that impact their lives.
During the Spring of 2010, the SPLC worked in collaboration with youth from the Gulf Coast Region and professional musicians to use music to give a voice to these children’s realities, hopes and dreams. Through the SPLC Youth Voices Music Project, over a few short days, these children wrote, sang and recorded seven original songs. The children demonstrate remarkable gifts and talents, as well as profound depth and thoughtfulness about life as a child in the Deep South in their music and lyrics.
Several of the children participated from behind the walls of a youth detention center in Mississippi. We were only able to work with them by passing through secured, metal doors to enter their world of imprisonment. As in most places, in Mississippi over 70 percent of the youth behind bars are accused of non-violent offenses like shoplifting, disorderly conduct or school-related offenses. At times, children as young as ten years old are locked up for a school-yard fight or for misbehaving at home.
Despite the harsh circumstances in which they are forced to exist, several children in this Mississippi detention center turned pain into beauty and sorrow into art by translating their experiences of being incarcerated into powerful songs. The sensitivity, brilliance and youthfulness of these children, as demonstrated by their art, directly challenges the grotesque practice of locking children in cages. While listening to their music, we are forced to wonder why we allow children to live in these conditions. What act could a child commit that would make him or her worthy of growing up in a cage? Could a cage ever help a child thrive and develop into a responsible adult?
This paradox is made even more obvious when confronted with the children’s hopes, dreams and acute awareness about the trajectory of their lives and possibility of a lifetime spent in prison…. As one incarcerated child stated, “We know more than what we put on the outside. You got [kids in prison for the rest of their lives] that could have been presidents. That’s one thing I lay in my bed and worry ’bout, man. Am I going to be next….Cause I know I’m smarter than what I put on the outside….Sometimes there ain’t no hope”.
Then, they say something that breaks your heart and forces you to remember that they are children. Just children. Living in cages. One child described his cellmates: “Some of the boys in here, they just want to hear their family say they love ’em. My boy in here, he was telling me… all…all I want is to hear my mama say “I love you.”
What would help these children realize their tremendous potential? How do we prevent more children from ending up behind bars? One of the major challenges facing children in the Deep South is the education system. Too many schools have become hostile environments for children instead of a refuge in which to learn.
Public school students are pushed out of school for minor misbehaviors at dramatic rates. Already, many children live in distressed communities, in which poverty and violence are prevalent. Schools could provide a safe place for children to learn and receive guidance and support instead of punishing them. When a child is repeatedly discouraged or reprimanded by educators, or suspended or expelled from school, they are more likely to drop out of school and not earn a high-school diploma. This is a tragedy of epic proportions that our nation can no longer afford to ignore.
In New Orleans, the SPLC Youth Voices Music Project worked with approximately 20 public school children, ranging from grades 5-12. These youth came together to talk about their city, their schools, their community and their future.
We began with an inter-generational dialogue circle, in which several community leaders and life-long New Orleans residents spoke of growing up in New Orleans, in segregated schools, when times were different…or so we thought. As the students asked questions and shared their experiences, we began to notice parallels between current public school conditions and those of two generations ago. In fact, certain things have become worse, such as the rate at which children are pushed out of school through the use of school suspensions and expulsions.
People both young and old reflected on the deterioration of public schools, the disintegration of community, and the need for people to unite to support and care for each other. People spoke of the continued impact of Hurricane Katrina, how it continues to cripple entire communities, including individuals who are unable to return or who return to a drastically changed city. They spoke of the international promise of support to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, in contrast to the still broken and vacant houses and dilapidated school buildings that were flooded by the storm. They spoke of the violence plaguing children in the New Orleans schools and streets, how there are no safe havens anymore, and how children are too often brutalized by police officers, school security guards and other children.
Over two days we created three original songs, which included writing lyrics, developing melodies and recording live performances. One of the songs collaboratively written by the children, “Change These Ways,” declares that it is “time to build up unity, time to rebuild our community.” One 15-year-old boy arrived on the second evening to share a beautiful, searing melody that he had written that morning, titled “Dreams.” The chorus of another song, “This is Life,” cries out: “This is life, let me tell you how it is, grown folks problems in the thoughts of little kids.”
These new songs written by children through the SPLC’s Youth Voices Music Project have yet to stand the measure of time. Most assuredly, however, they are anchored in the same proud tradition of earlier songs of Justice and Freedom. The melodies, rhymes, and words all move from the same heartbeat. Now it’s time for these songs to be sung – so the voices of the children can be heard. For, as we do unto the least, we do unto ourselves.
Youth Voices Project participants: Children imprisoned in a Mississippi youth detention center, New Orleans Youth Artists Alexis Burnside, Teal Mitchell, Kendrick Crain, Alfred Banks, Denise Pittman, Re’Jeanne Badreaux, Ranjae Cornin, Gerelyn Mitchell, John Baumbach, Cory Burd, Chrishawn DeBose, Knowledge is Born, Isaac Bourgeois, Cassandra Tran, Daylin “Tizz” Bolding, Ladonna Bryer, Jerron Fournett, Jeremy Mitchell, Venecia Mitchell.
New Orleans Community Leaders: DJ Markey, Ted Quant, Yvette Thierry
To hear these songs, please visit: www.splcenter.org/voices
This year, Community Celebration of Place’s Elder Circle will be held on April 26, 2012, 9am – 1pm, at the North Community YMCA.
Featuring Jazz Legends Irv Williams & Jeanne Arland Peterson with Billy Peterson; Harold Mezile, President & CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis; C. Bennice Young, Principal, Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School, Community Elders, Tonia Hughes, Youth from the North Side, Round-Table Discussions led by Dare 2 Be Real Student Leaders and a free Soul Food Lunch with vegetarian option.
For more information, visit the Community Celebration of Place website.
Celebrate the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth with a program featuring folk singer Darryl Holter, a former labor education director for the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and labor educator at UCLA, who has developed a “Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles” presentation/performance, and renowned Twin Cities labor troubadour Larry Long, who assembled the first hometown tribute to Woody Guthrie in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1988 and has applied and extended Woody Guthrie’s aesthetics and energies for the past four decades.
Thursday, April 19, 7 pm
St. Paul Labor Centre
411 Main St., Saint Paul
Visit www.thefriends.org for a full listing of events
Marv changed my life. It was because of Marv that I met my future wife, Jacqueline.
When I was asked to sing at a demonstration against Honeywell, I told the organizer, Marv Davidov, that I would, but I would not be participating in any nonviolent action, which might lead to arrest. But when I saw the four McDonald Sisters sitting down on the steps of the entrance to Honeywell, I felt called to sit down with them in memory of my close friend Max Siegrist, a Vietnam Veteran against the war, who died tragically in a tractor accident not long after returning home.
The next thing I knew I was in the paddy wagon being hauled to jail for civil disobedience. The McDonald Sisters represented themselves at the trial, but I enlisted the help of attorney, Doug Hall. Doug was the founder of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, who fought on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised in the city. He had a long ponytail with a gray receding hairline. Doug was one of those quiet warriors in the courtroom, who drew little attention to himself, but highly respected by all of the public defenders and progressive lawyers. Jacqueline was both.
When I tired to sing on the witness stand the judge stopped me in mid verse and said, “There will be no singing in my courtroom.” It was at that moment I looked down from the witness stand and noticed Jacqueline in the backroom with my Lakota, Vietnam Veteran friend, Rick McArthur, who worked at the Legal Rights Center as a field worker for the First Nation community. It’s important to note that the Legal Rights Center was located on Franklin Avenue, where the American Indian Movement (AIM) got started in response to the overreach of law enforcement against the large exodus of native people moving from their homes on the reservations into the city. The Legal Rights Center grew out of the need to represent many of these cases and Doug Hall was one of their lead lawyers.
Though the McDonald Sisters and I truly believed we were operating by a higher law than man, we were found guilty of trespassing. We had a choice of doing a hundred hours of public service or three days in the workhouse. I righteously, or self-righteously chose the later.
The only book I took with me to read in jail was Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth. For years I had tried to read it, which I successfully did in my steel woven jail cell on the first day.
Before going into the workhouse I asked Jacqueline if she would like to go on a date after I got out. She laughed and said, “Yes.” “Great!” I said, “Let’s go to Puerto Escondido, Mexico.” Without missing a beat, Jacqueline said, “Sure!”
It was on one of the best surfing beaches in North America on the south edge of Puerto Escondido, Playa Zicatela, which means ‘place of large thorns’ with a strong undertow, where I proposed to Jacqueline with a bottle of rum.
This year we celebrate our twenty-seventh year of marriage. Together, we now have three grown children and a granddaughter.
Who says there’s not love in the movement? We owe it all to Marv.