Let me say that this time around we cannot subordinate our aspirations and our hopes to presidential agendas. Our passionate support for President Barack Obama… should also be expressed in our determination to raise issues that have been largely ignored or not appropriately addressed by the administration.
And let me say that we are aware that we should be celebrating, critically celebrating, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. There should be massive celebrations this year. What has happened other than the film Lincoln? And, of course, with two-and-a-half million people behind bars today, the prison system, the immigrant detention system are terrible remainders and reminders of slavery. Mass incarceration has devastated our communities. It is a false solution to problems that have persisted since the era of slavery.
We should be addressing the state of our schools, the continuing crisis of overincarceration, over-punishment. We should be addressing the part played by private prison corporations in pushing for repressive legislation designed to incarcerate ever-increasing numbers of immigrants. Last year, some 500,000, a half a million, immigrants were detained. And that, of course, is the largest number ever.
The past still haunts us. Its ghosts ride the echoes of our lives. To overcome poverty, to overcome racism, we must also overcome xenophobia, homophobia. Justice for African Americans is organically linked to justice for Palestinians. The struggle goes on. A luta continua. And as June Jordan said, we are the ones we have been waiting for. Thank you.