US actor Danny Glover gave the speech below to protesters at the Occupy Oakland protest on October 15.
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[Actor and civil rights activist] Ozzie Davis used to say when asked why he was where he was at that moment in time, he said he was there because it is the right moment to be there and the right time to be there. We’re here because it is the right time to be here.
We’re tired and sick, and tired of being sick and tired. That’s why we’re here.
Not only are we talking about taking back our government — taking back a democracy and making it a democracy — but we’re here because we’re talking about taking back our humanity. Taking back our humanity, right now here. That’s why we’re here.
We have a crisis here. But in a crisis there are challenges and opportunities. We’re here because we are taking up the challenge and the opportunity. We support something that is happening not only here in Oakland — it’s happening in more than 500 cities around the world.
It’s happening with young people. It’s happening in Chile. It’s happening in the Middle East. It’s happening on Wall Street. And it’s about the same thing. We have to take back the world. We have to take back this precious planet: it’s ours.
And what does it look like? We don’t know what it looks like. We know there are going to be challenges and there will be challenges. But at the same time as we know there are challenges, we know that it’s not a weekend parley.
It means we have to be on the job 24/7: working and organising. Many men and women are here who come from various organisations, who come from labour: we know what has happened to labour.
Eighty-eight percent of the workforce is not represented. Eighty-eight percent in a modern society: That’s unconscionable. Eighty-eight percent who don’t have a way in which they can collectively bargain. That’s what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about 45% of the men and women — people who have been unemployed or underemployed for more than four years. That’s what we’re talking about.
We have to find something. So it has to be more than simply jobs, although we know that labour does its best work when it fights for jobs and better wages and better conditions in the workplace. We know that it does that.
But it has to be a reimagining and a rethinking of what we mean by democracy. It has to be a reimagining and a rethinking of what we mean by work. It has to be a reimagining and a rethinking about what we mean by education.
And importantly, what it means to be a human being. What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be a human in the 21st century? That’s what we’re talking about.
That is what we mean by [saying] it’s not simply a revolution. It has to be a revolution, an evolution and a transformation. We have to be the change that we want to see.
Are we willing to stand up for that? Are we willing to stand up for that? [Crowd applause.] Are we willing to stand up for that, young and old?
It’s not only taking back our democracy. We have to remake it. We have to transform it. We have to build something better than that. That’s what we have to do.
It’s let us down. It’s failed us. It’s failed us in our homes. It’s failed us in our communities. It’s failed us state by state. But it’s also failed this fragile planet we live on. This fragile mother Earth, which nourished us. It’s failed that too.
We are right on the precipice of ecological collapse. And yet it goes on, [they] talk about growth and development and growth and growth and making more money.
Transforming a common place into private property and private wealth. It keeps doing that, and we have to change that.
And we have to be here tomorrow, the next day, the day after tomorrow and the tomorrows after tomorrow. And not only to change it, but to ensure that its transformation is institutionalised.
Yes, there’s a transformation into countries controlled by corporations, [which has] been institutionalised. We have to take it back and transform it into one that is for the people, by the people, that works on behalf of the people and that works on behalf of the planet.
We’re here to do that. We’re not going to do anything short of that. It’s going to take all of us. All of us across the spectrum: young, old, black, white, gay, straight, all of us.
Let America be America again. The dream used to be: let it be the place where every man is free. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let’s try to transform it into the new dream.
Let’s transform it into what our dear, beloved brother Dr [Martin Luther] King called “the beloved community”.
Let’s transform it so people matter more than things. People have to matter. This whole process of 65,000 years of human evolution: people have to matter.
We can develop all the technology, but we’ve still lost the bond that people are what matters …
The native American belief says not only [to] care about what the planet looks like right now, but what the planet looks like seven generations from now. We have to care about that.
We’re going to even have to think about “what do I want” as opposed to “what do I need”. We have to recalibrate in our minds what are needs and what are wants.
These are the things that we have to do. But that is the embodiment of our own transformation. That’s the embodiment of our own evolution. This is what this is about.
All this is right now. What it’s going to look like, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball and none of us out here have a crystal ball. But we work at something and we know, given our strength and based on our faith in humanity, that something else is going to happen.
Power to people.