Justice Journey

Dr. Cornell West’s words inspired this song of racial justice.

Words and music by Sarah Pirtle, incorporating words of Dr. Cornell West,
© 2020, Discovery Center Music BMI.

Lyrics

1. How long does it take to change the grip of hate?

How long, how long.

Open up the skies. We still can hear their cries.

How long, how long.

 

Chorus: 

Who’s community? Our community.

On this justice journey, we will stay.

We got hope in the form of motion. 

We got the strength of long time action.

We got a love that the world can’t take away. (2 times)

 

2. How long before we know how a closed heart can let go?

How long, how long.

Open up what’s near. See what builds the fear.

How long, how long.

 

Chorus

 

3. How long does it take to reach the heart of the world?

Stand strong, stand strong.

Open up the stars. There are voices traveling far.

Stand strong, stand strong.

 

4. What will it take to heal the soul of the world?

Stand strong, stand strong 

Open up the gate. Love says we’re not too late.

Stand strong, stand strong.

 

Partial last chorus: 

We got hope in the form of motion. 

We got the strength of long time action.

We got a love that the world can’t take away. (2x)

 

We’ve got the love.

About this Song:

2020

Dr. Cornell West says we are at a turning point, and in this time of reckoning, he calls for our country to be reimagined. Speaking after the funeral for George Floyd he said, “We got hope in the form of motion....We got a love that the world can’t take away.” His words form the heart of this chorus.

I intend the song to honor the travesty of the many, many African Americans killed by police and the generations of lynching. The reference to voices traveling far includes the Mothers of the Movement who started in 2013 after Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. The Mothers of the Movement all have African American children who have been killed by police or by gun violence. In the moment when George Floyd called to his mother, he created a powerful transformative opening.

The song thinks about the private and public work that will need to be ahead. I draw upon my experiences as a member of Bridge4Unity for three years. Bridge4Unity is an interracial dialogue and cultural exchange project that brings together people from three distinct communities to focus upon racial justice -- Western MA, Beaufort County of South Carolina and Letcher County, Kentucky. Half the members of the dialogue are BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) and half are European American. When we met in South Carolina to dialogue from our diverse cultural, social, historical, and political profiles, we were at the Penn Center where Dr. King and Vincent Harding worked on the “I Have a Dream” speech.

One of the calls at rallies during this world-wide uprising is “Whose community?” with the crowd answering, “Our community.”