HOW AMERICA CAN GET HER GROOVE BACK.... During the Mexican Revolution, the grandfather of Zack de la Rocha, singer for Rage Against the Machine, fought in Sinaloa before emigrating to the United States to work sixteen-hour days as a farm laborer in California's Silicon Valley. Zack's dad is a well-known L.A. muralist who, Zack recently told a Mexican interviewer, "tried to build bridges between the artists in Los Angeles, the workers, and Chicanos against the war in Vietnam."
This summer, Zack made his fourth trip to Chiapas in southern Mexico to work with the Zapatista rebels. "Our music has become a bridge," he explained. "Rage Against the Machine has become an alternative medium of communication to spread the ideas of the Zapatista movement in relationship to the poor, the young, the excluded, and the dispossessed in the United States."
Those ideas can be summarized in de la Rocha's declaration that "We are for a different world where money is not the only exchange value."
Zack's words find a north-of-the-border echo in the slogan of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU): "We have a right to thrive--not just barely survive." The KWRU, a multi-racial organization of 4,000 poor and homeless people in North Philadelphia, will host a conclave this fall that will be a golden opportunity to build upon the work of Zack de la Rocha and Rage Against the Machine.
From October 9-11 at Temple University, KWRU will host a Poor People's Summit that will bring together over one hundred poor people's organizations and their allies to network and plot strategy. One of the Summit's most important elements will be a culture workshop--a brainstorming session where musicians, journalists, graffiti writers, poets, webmasters, filmmakers, and others will begin to define their role in the battle to end poverty, including their own. Artists will be able to walk out of the workshop, go down the hall, and immediately begin to build alliances with America's poor.
In July, RRC was able to facilitate a meeting of KWRU with Steve Earle and the same thing happened in September with Missouri country-rockers the Bottle Rockets. (An August meeting with Rancid got lost in the communications abyss of the Warped Tour). These minglings of music and street struggle left everyone involved eager to work together. As Earle put it, "One of the things that makes KWRU so special is that it's a real live honest-to-goodness people's revolution." As for the Poor People's Summit, Earle said: "What can we do? For the time being simply show up--with our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds open."
For more information on the culture workshop,
contact RRC (310-398-4477; email@example.com) and for more
information on the Poor People's Summit, call 215-204-2164