This past Sunday was our 18th annual lay-led Labor Day service! Originally it focused on workers and Labor Movement history in advocacy, song, and poetry. The service has evolved in recent years to emphasize what I call “Liberation Poetry.”
The truths of past Labor Day homilies persist. The acceleration of income and wealth inequality continues unabated. According to a recent Federal Reserve report, the richest 1% possesses $42 Trillion of the national wealth, while the entire bottom half of the nation owns only $2.6 Trillion. In other words, the top 1% control 16 times more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population.
Still there is cause for HOPE and poetry. Young poets like Amanda Gorman celebrate and inspire activism grounded in love. Our hymnal inspires us with poets from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou to Marge Piercy. Our democracy survived a coup, and we persist today with people across all ages, races, faiths, sexual and gender identities, and more joining together to work for justice.
Here are some of the poems that were read at the service:
- In This Place (An American Lyric), Amanda Gorman
- poem where no one is deported, José Olivarez
- “Hope” is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson
- A New National Anthem, Ada Limón
- The birthday of the world, Marge Piercy
- A People’s Historian, Kenneth Carroll
- Hope, by Lisel Mueller