Boots Riley is a veteran of Oakland’s political scene. Frontman of hip hop group “The Coup,” Riley has lived in the area ever since his family moved there when he was young. As he grew up, he became interested in activism at an early age.
"What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing."
This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.
The depth of the love and resistance and solidarity and strength that keeps people going in the face of this horror is really incredible. Even with all the horrors and the violence that the state inflicts on people, still there is something about the human spirit that doesn’t surrender.
People wanted the recycling center gone because they just didn’t want the poor around them. It’s a game of Monopoly in which everybody’s interests are linked to the price of real estate, without the slightest concern about what speculation in land prices does to communities.
What matters in the long run is staying true to the cause of justice. In the end, that is the very meaning of our lives — whether we keep going, and keep working for peace and justice, or give up in despair. It’s the question at the very heart of it all.
I knew a lot of the people had to escape or they were killed by the junta in Chile. It was just tragic and terrible. I had grown up with a full knowledge of the viciousness of imperialism from my socialist parents. So I knew that, but I was still shocked.
“We’re still struggling as a species with how we can stop war. The families (of Vietnam veterans) were so grateful that anybody would acknowledge their sacrifice. And I don’t mean sacrifice in a clichéd way. The war had reached out and struck their family in a horrible, terrible way."
"It was magical. All at the same time, amazing stuff happened in Paris, London, and San Francisco — and BOOM! Everybody agreed on the same premise: peace and love. It was a moment of peace and love. It was a wonderful thing to happen. And I’m still a hippie: peace and love!"
Women coming home from the Vietnam War never were the same after their wartime experiences. They were shoved into a horrific, unbelievable experience. That’s what I wrote about in the song: “A vision of the wounded screams inside her brain, and the girl next door will never be the same.”