Thoughts Inspired by Writers Resist Philadelphia

Writers Resist PhiladelphiaLast Sunday, at the Writers Resist Philadelphia event, I was reminded of the power of words to create  history. Where would the American Revolution have been without the pamphlets of Thomas Paine? Where would the Civil Rights Movement have been without the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Where would the larger cultural movement of the 1960s have been without the protest songs that still resonate today?

I was reminded of the power that writers have to encapsulate their time. To take a snapshot of history. To speak of hidden truths. To remake the world.

On Sunday in Philadelphia, we remembered and relived the past so that we could envision the future. We came together, writers and freedom lovers—men and women and children, people who are white and black and Hispanic and Asian and somewhere in between. Our gathering felt not so much like a protest but—if I may coin the term—a Remembrance. A day to remind ourselves what our country is, a reminder of the freedoms that we are all guaranteed, a reminder that there is an America worth fighting for that has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, and has everything to do with the rights of every one of us to enjoy the promises listed in the Constitution.

We heard words from men and women, black and white, Jewish and Arabic, disabled and gay, Native and immigrant—all the voices blending together to tell a story that is uniquely American. The voices were many and varied, yet they all spoke of the one thing that unites us all—our  Humanity.

We in America have been blessed for the last 240 years to have freedoms not often seen anywhere else in the world, to have them written into our Constitution and given to us as a birthright. On Sunday, we remembered how lucky we are, and we reminded everyone who heard those words that we have come far—but we still have such a long way to go.

Writers Resist PhiladelphiaWe reminded ourselves why we speak, why the words of these people still matter—because these are precious rights, and we in America have often taken them for granted. We cannot be complacent, because there are always those who would take those rights from us if we let them—and we must not let them.

On Sunday, we marked the progress of our journey toward equality, but it has taken such a long, long time to get here. We have traveled a great distance, but we are nowhere near the end of the road. We cannot—we will not—sit back and lose the progress we’ve made.

We were reminded that We The People are the power in America—and that means all people. We must not allow political demagogues and media pundits to define who we are as Americans. Anyone who lived through the horror of 9/11 will remember what it meant to be American first—without party, without ethnicity, without race. On that day, we were Americans—united in spirit, in purpose. Together we rose from the ashes of the Twin Towers.

Throughout history, writers have spoken truth to power. On Sunday in Philadelphia, we reaffirmed our commitment to continue to do just that. On that day we reminded America how hard the road to this mile marker in time has been—and  how unforgivable it would be to betray all the blood, tears, and suffering it took to get here.

On Sunday, Writers Resist Philadelphia made a promise to all Americans:

The voice of America will not be shouted down in a press conference or kicked out of the White House. The writers of America are watching. We will speak. We will not be silenced.

And we are legion.

Writers Resist Philadelphia






  1. Terry,
    I wasn’t able to attend the event in Philadelphia so I have only your passionate and well-written piece as a source. While I applaud the work of writers everywhere to speak truth to power and to resist tyranny in America, I am dismayed at how few writers are prepared to leave the comfort of America that protects them to travel to areas of the world where life is a literal horror for all, but especially for women and children, and fight to not only protect this country from attacks by barbarians, but also to protect the innocent outside our own borders. For those who just cannot leave the U.S., how many have taken the time or even made the effort to help here by spending a few years as a cop, fire fighter or paramedic in the inner cities. We can easily write and protest from the safety of our ivory towers in America. I’ll be more impressed when more writers go out and get serious skin in the game before judging the “oppressors”, both domestic and foreign.

    • Kerry Gans says

      Karle – Your advice to get out of our normal lives and see more of the world is wonderful advice for all people in every profession. Experiencing life and culture outside of our own is always a great thing, and seeing how other people live can enhance our gratitude for what we have. Among our ranks we count writers who have escaped the disadvantaged background of urban or rural poverty, and those who have immigrated here to escape the horrors abroad you mention. And as I know you are aware, most writers have a job other than writing, and there are plenty who hold exactly those jobs you mention, as well as nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, social workers and more in those urban environments and elsewhere. Many also volunteer their time with the needy and in causes both domestic and internationally–I know some who have been to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, and others who cannot travel but raise money and goods for poverty-stricken countries or those fleeing from war. It’s good to know that many of us writers are on the right track, in your view. And thanks for reminding all of us of the importance of being an open-minded and involved citizen of both the world and your community. Kerry

  2. Debi Van Cleave says

    Thanks for the reminder to use my gift to denounce this egomaniacal conman who was unfairly elected president and who is quickly putting us all in danger.

  3. Thank you, Keri! We shall keep writing and speaking, wherever we may live and travel, without the need to judge others for how much, or where, or how often, they write and speak. We need to lift each other up, now more than ever. I am very proud to be a writer today, and hope to follow this group and contribute what I can.

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