9:30am on a Sunday is normally when most of us are still recovering from a late night of traditional Saturday festivities. Yesterday morning, poet/actor/author/musician/activist Saul Williams was already hard at work. As a leading voice of the Not In Our Name organization, Saul recited the "Not In Our NamePledge Of Resistance" during a pre-march rally at Union Square in NYC. This made for the ideal beginning for a day that would show the world how New York City residents are tired of our country's current direction and are ready to take a stand. My day as Saul’s personal one-man paparazzi had just begun.
Saul's next stop was the United For Peace and Justice protest march. Simply getting near the march location was no easy task, with police repeatedly trying to divert us to the end of the line. After dealing with multiple organizers, Saul finally arrived at his place towards the front of the nearly two mile long march. Within a handful of minutes, the procession of protestors was on its way. Just a few feet from Michael Moore and Jessie Jackson, Saul marched side by side with Zack de la Rocha and the other half million protestors. With the massive media presence, snipers on the rooftops, and the sheer turnout of participators in the march, it quickly became obvious that we were part of an experience that comes only once in a lifetime - at least we only hope only once. By the end of the route, it was time for a break. Michael Moore chose to grab some tacos, while we opted for a traditional NYC slice.
After cooling down and devouring some pizza, Saul was off to WBAI community radio. As we headed to the radio interview, our group was joined by Michael Franti from Spearhead, as well as fellow poet Beau Sia. Together they discussed the issues that Not In Our Name stands for, while Franti performed a few acoustic tracks fitting for the day’s events. The climax of the radio interview was Saul's recitation of the "Pledge Of Resistance". This was done to take the place of uniting the voices of the New York City citizens at Central Park, as the United For Peace and Justice organization’s protest license was not granted. Listeners were asked to open their windows, turn their radios up, and join in the Pledge Of Resistance. Nobody could match the emotion sparked in Saul’s voice as he concluded with “another world is possible, and we pledge to make it real.”
At this point, it is nearly 5pm. Saul still has one event left on his plate, a performance opening up for Spearhead at Pianos. At 7pm, the intimate venue was jam packed with protest marchers and Spearhead fans, including many unfamiliar with Saul Williams and his intense poetry. Saul performed excerpts from his book , said the shotgun to the head. In between readings, he spoke to his captive audience about his musings on politics and religion, which worked as the perfect segue to educate the audience on the background of this particular piece. By the end of this brief twenty-minute set, Williams’ unmatched eloquence and power gained him a whole new group of followers. To experience Saul’s unparalleled poetic skills, make sure to look for his new self-titled album, out in stores on September 21.
Read more about Saul at www.saulwilliams.com