Racist frame-up in Louisiana: the case of the Jena Six

July 31, 2007

An excellent article on the Jena Six case.

wsws.org

Racist frame-up in Louisiana: the case of the Jena Six
By Marge Holland and Alex Lantier
31 July 2007

Six black high school students in the small town of Jena in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, have been framed up on charges of murder and conspiracy. The charges came following a series of racist incidents triggered by black students’ decision on August 31, 2006, to sit under a “whites-only” tree at the school. In a racist provocation the following day, three nooses in school colors were found hanging from the tree.

Local authorities, including the school superintendent and the district attorney, have provocatively sided with white students in the case and rigged the legal proceedings. On June 28, the first student to be tried, Mychal Bell, was found guilty of second-degree aggravated assault. He will be sentenced in September and faces up to 22 years in jail.

Collectively, the six black students face more than 120 years in jail.

Following the incident at Jena High School last fall, three white students were found responsible for hanging the nooses and the principal recommended they be expelled. The superintendent of schools, however, overruled the decision and gave the students three-day suspensions.

In response, several black students, among them star players on the football team, staged a sit-in protest under the tree. An all-school assembly was convened. Arriving at the school escorted by armed police guards, District Attorney Reed Walters criticized black students for making too much of a “prank” and said, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen.”

Later that autumn, on November 30, the main school building was set on fire. Local investigators said the cause was arson, but did not charge anyone with starting the blaze. The next day, Friday, December 1, a black student, 17-year-old Robert Bailey, was assaulted after being invited to a “white” dance hall, the Fair Barn. The man who beat Bailey was put on probation. On Saturday, December 2, a white man pulled a gun on Bailey and two of his friends, who wrestled the gun away from him. The black youths were arrested on charges of stealing the gun.

On Monday, December 4, a fight broke out at the high school, and a white student, Justin Barker, was sent to the hospital. He was treated and released and seen attending a social event that same evening, joking and laughing and bearing only a few bruises.

The black students now known as the Jena Six—Robert Bailey, Jr., Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Mychal Bell and one unidentified minor—were charged with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. The six were also expelled from school. The white student who attacked and beat up Robert Bailey was given probation.

After a May 20 report on the case in the Chicago Tribune, the charges against the six black students were lowered to aggravated assault, which under Louisiana law requires the presence of a dangerous weapon, such as a gun or hunting knife. Prosecutors listed Mychal Bell’s tennis shoes as a dangerous weapon.

The Jena Six were jailed, and bond for the defendants was set at $70,000 to $138,000, exorbitantly high sums that the families could not pay. All six stayed in jail for weeks before their families could raise the needed funds, and two have remained in jail. When Mychal Bell, the first defendant to be tried, turned 18 in jail, the judge removed him from the juvenile facilities, put him in the Jena Parish jail and charged him as an adult.

During Bell’s trial in June, the district attorney made inflammatory comments about the defendants: “To those who act in this manner, I tell you that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and with the harshest crimes the facts justify. When you are convicted I will seek the maximum penalty allowed by law. I will see to it that you never again menace the students of this parish.”

Bell was legally represented by a court-appointed public defender, Blane Williams, who is black. Williams repeatedly pressured Bell to plead guilty, but Bell refused. During jury selection, Williams did not challenge a single juror from the all-white jury pool. The LaSalle Parish clerk defended the all-white jury pool on the basis that it had been selected by a computer. The final jury included two friends of the district attorney, as well as several friends and one relative of prosecution witnesses. The judge in the case was also white.

Defense attorney Williams openly sided with the prosecution. He called no witnesses, not even a high school coach who had previously written a statement testifying that Bell had not, in fact, struck Barker. The prosecution called 16 witnesses, mostly white high school students. Remarkably, Williams commented to a local paper, Alexandria Town Talk, “I don’t believe race is an issue in this trial. I think I have a fair and impartial jury.”

Although Bell’s parents were not planning on testifying at the trial, they were placed on a list of witnesses and, on that basis, barred from entering the courtroom. Several white witnesses who in fact did testify were allowed to remain in the courtroom. Bell’s parents reportedly were also told they should not speak to the media.

In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, broadcast on July 10, Bell’s father Marcus Jones accused Williams of “working with the DA for to get my son convicted” in what he branded “a 2007 modern-day court lynching.”

Speaking of the pressure Williams put on Bell to plead guilty, Jones said, “Any time a plea bargain be thrown on the table for any man here in LaSalle Parish, that person is innocent…. That’s a dead giveaway here in the South. So [Williams] was putting pressure on Mychal, threatening him, you know, about the time he gonna get…and his life is over with, you know, just that old Jim Crow intimidation method.”

Bell was found guilty of second-degree aggravated assault and conspiracy on June 28 after the jury deliberated for less than three hours. Bell will be sentenced in September and faces up to 22 years in jail. The rest of the Jena Six await similar trials.

The shameful events of the Jena Six frame-up illustrate how the “law-and-order” mentality and lack of economic opportunity in rural Louisiana—conditions that are, in fact, prevalent in many small towns in America—have allowed elements and attitudes of Jim Crow-era segregation to persist until today.

Jena has roughly 3,000 inhabitants, 12 percent of whom are black. The main industries include a prison complex, a Wal-Mart retail super-center, and a branch of Arrows Industry, a mid-size machine tool and mechanical services firm. Median household income in 2000 was $30,938 (compared to $44,334 for the entire US); 15.1 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.2 percent of those under age 18 and 17.0 percent of those aged 65 and over.

The town voted 4 to 1 in favor of George Bush in the last two presidential elections. Jena’s infamous Juvenile Correctional Center for Youth was forced to close its doors in 2000, only two years after it opened, due to widespread brutality, including the choking of juveniles by guards and other forms of assault. The US Department of Justice sued the private prison amid complaints that guards paid inmates to fight each other and had laughed when teens tried to commit suicide. The center was reopened in 2005 to house New Orleans prisoners displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Human Rights Watch documented widespread abuse of inmates at the facility in its report, “Louisiana: After Katrina, Inmates Face Prison Abuse.”

Housing in Jena is still largely segregated, with more comfortable neighborhoods populated almost exclusively by whites. As a result, certain elementary schools in the area have only white students, and some of these students and their families resent their incorporation into Jena’s racially integrated high school. Several of the white students involved in the Jena Six case—including most of the prosecution’s witnesses and the students who hung the nooses in the “white tree”—came from all-white elementary schools.

Supporters of the Jena Six have been holding weekly protests and organizing meetings. A gathering in early May was attended by supporters from other northern and central Louisiana towns and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and National Action Network, a group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

In March 2007, the families of the accused began their own branch of the NAACP in response to the charges in March 2007. The case has also been taken up by the Friends of Justice, a group formed in 1999 that supports community organizing around cases of criminal justice abuse in rural Texas and Louisiana. A protest march is planned in Jena for July 31—the original date set for Mychal Bell’s sentencing.


Cartoon of the Day

July 31, 2007


Great filmmaker dies at 94

July 31, 2007

Guardian Unlimited
Tuesday July 31, 2007

Italian visionary Antonioni dies at 94

Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the most innovative and distinctive film-makers of the 20th century, has died at the age of 94.

The Italian director died at his home in Rome on Monday evening, less than 24 hours after the death of Ingmar Bergman – that other great giant of European art-house cinema.

Alongside his near contemporary Federico Fellini, Antonioni signalled a break with the “neorealist” style that flourished in Italy at the end of the second world war. In contrast to the working class parables of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, his films were cool and stylised, traditionally focusing on the experiences of an alienated bourgeoisie.

Antonioni made his film debut with Cronaca di un amore in 1950.

International success followed with the release of his classic L’Avventura in 1960.

Away from his native Italy, Antonioni made his English language debut with the epoch-catching London thriller Blowup in 1966.

He later moved to America to shoot the counter-culture romp Zabriskie Point and ushered Jack Nicholson through Europe in his existential odyssey, The Passenger.

In 1985 Antonioni suffered a severe stroke that left him unable to speak. He directed his last film, 1995’s Beyond the Clouds, from his wheelchair, with the assistance of director Wim Wenders. The following year he was presented with a lifetime achievement Oscar at the Academy Awards.

“With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,” said Rome mayor Walter Veltroni this morning. A quiet funeral is planned in Ferrara, his birthplace in northern Italy, this Thursday

.


Voice of the Day

July 31, 2007

“The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology”

– Michael Parenti


JIM CROW IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL IN LOUISIANA!!

July 31, 2007

I was just listening to an interview on WBAI with Tony Brown (Host of Eyes Open Radio Show) and he was talking about the latest news on the Jena Six case and about Mychal Bell in particular who’s been in jail since last September !!!!!!!

What these disgusting racists in Jena are trying to do to these kids is despicable, hateful and criminal.

More pressure, involvement, organizing in support and defense of the Jena Six is necessary and urgent.

infoshop.org

Free the Jena Six: News and Updates

On June 28, 2007, Mychal Bell, the first defendant, was convicted by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery. Bell, a high school student, faces up to 22 years in prison for a schoolyard fight.

The fight was initiated by white students, who hung three nooses in a tree at the high school courtyard, to warn black students not to sit there. After this hate crime was dismissed as a harmless prank by the school administration, black students protested under the tree.

The local District Attorney was called in to warn the black students that he could take their life away with the stroke of a pen.

After authority figures refused to take a stand against racism, the noose incident led to a series of fights between white and black students. After these fights, only the black students were charged–with attempted murder. The prosecutor has refused to back down in prosecuting these young men, or to admit that hanging nooses is a hate crime.

Mychal Bell’s sentencing was originally scheduled for next Tuesday, July 31, and a mass protest was scheduled for 9:00am on that date. The sentencing has been rescheduled to September 20, but the July 31 protest will still happen. Hundreds of people from around the US have expressed interest in coming, including national civil rights leaders, as well as large delegations from Houston, New Orleans, and other cities.

A petition, signed by tens of thousands of people from around the world, will be delivered to Lasalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters on that day.

For news & updates on the Jena six Case:

Color Of Change

Eyes Open With Tony Brown

Take Action:
Sign the petition at http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/

Mail donations to:
Jena 6 Defense Committee
PO BOX 2798
Jena, LA 71342

If you are planning to come to Jena to join the July 31 protest, email
jena@colorofchange.org.

If you are coming from New Orleans and can either offer a ride, or if you need a ride, email asiancajunandy@gmail.com.

If you are coming from Houston, and want to join a caravan coming from there, call Bro. Garnet at 832.258.2480.

To ask specific questions, or to keep updated, please email:
jena6defense@gmail.com.


Cartoon of the Day

July 30, 2007


Voice of the Day

July 30, 2007

“Our only political party has two right wings, one called Republican, the other Democratic. But Henry Adams figured all that out back in the 1890s. ‘We have a single system,’ he wrote, and ‘in that system the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold, the bread and circuses'”

– Gore Vidal


Q&A: Marc Anthony lives and breathes salsa

July 29, 2007

Q&A: Marc Anthony lives and breathes salsa

By Leila Cobo
Reuters

MIAMI (Billboard) – When Marc Anthony was a young, up-and-coming singer with long, flowing hair, his friend DJ/producer “Little” Louie Vega took him to meet Hector Lavoe, the legendary salsa singer. As Anthony recalls the meeting, Lavoe took one look at him and said, in jest, “Ave Maria, what an ugly chick!”

Lavoe and Anthony’s paths would cross again, when Anthony attended a Lavoe show at New York’s Orchard Beach. Now, in the feature film “El Cantante,” Anthony, considered the most accomplished vocalist in modern salsa music, pays homage by portraying Lavoe, who died in 1993.

Directed by Leon Ichaso, the Picturehouse release opens August 1 in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide and also stars Anthony’s wife, Jennifer Lopez, who plays the role of Lavoe’s wife, Nilda. The film’s soundtrack, to be released July 24, is Anthony’s ninth studio album and the first from his new venture with Sony BMG.

During a recent sit-down with Billboard, Anthony spoke about “El Cantante,” the changing face of salsa and his partnership with Lopez.

Q: You seem very dedicated to salsa lately.

A: Absolutely. It’s what I do, what I breathe, what I live. I’m really inspired to do another Spanish ballad album, because (2004’s) “Amar Sin Mentiras” was really groundbreaking for me personally. It’s another way for me to express myself. I think I’ll be ready in a couple of months to press the button on a Spanish pop album. As far as (an) English (album) is concerned, I’m not that enthused right now, although I have a couple of tracks I’m into.

Q: On the “El Cantante” soundtrack, your interpretation is different from your past salsa albums. Did you try to sound like Lavoe? How do you approach something that daunting?

A: The answer to that is twofold. The first (thing) is, what do you want to accomplish in the studio before you start recording? I settled on celebrating his approach to music. I was going to try to learn his phrasing, and try to stay true to what he offered as a singer. That was No. 1. Once I made that decision, I realized that I was in deep s–t, because the hardest part of this whole project was the music — singing like him, understanding his phrasing. That’s when I realized his true genius. That’s why they called him “el Cantante de los Cantantes” (Singer of Singers).

Q: What is so distinctive in his phrasing?

A: He speaks in clave (the traditional, syncopated salsa beat). He couldn’t do anything off his metronome. So the first thing was to understand his metronome, his clock. It’s so unique, and it was in every line.

Q: Lavoe was a Latin icon, but he’s certainly not well known in the mainstream. What kind of impact can you have with someone like this?

A: That’s like saying, “Who was Sid Vicious and was he worthy of a movie?” No one knew and they made “Sid and Nancy.” Hector Lavoe has this intangible thing. If I were to introduce you to just his music, you would want to know the man. If I were to tell you this amazingly crazy story, you should want to hear his music. And when you have both, it’s a story that needs to be told. No one can sit there and tell me his music is less important than Ray Charles’ or Johnny Cash’s.

Q: So you don’t think this is just for Latin fans?

A: No. This is a human story. Any artist who is significant for 20-30 years is still viable. His music, if you released it today, would still be viable. When you have somebody like Daddy Yankee saying his only regret was he didn’t get to perform with Hector Lavoe … My God, it’s a whole generation removed, and it’s still important. This is not small. This is not a local story.

Q: This is a hard-hitting salsa album, coming at a time when salsa is nowhere near what it was in Lavoe’s time. Do you hope to respark an interest?

A: We (recently) had a whole trend of salsa artists coming out of nowhere because they were young and pretty. But what was behind the music? Where is their point of view? We need to create an atmosphere, especially within the record companies, where each album (is seen) as a steppingstone. It should be something you can be proud of 20 years from now — and not just think, “Oh, I’ll put out this album, and I’ll hybrid it with reggaeton, and a little bit of R&B,” and it’s not even salsa anymore. Record companies should concentrate on signing and nurturing. Nurturing would be the word.

Q: Well, labels don’t have as much money now to be patient.

A: Record companies are looking for a quick fix, and that’s what brought on this s–t. There wasn’t any A&R. They didn’t nurture the stars; they nurtured the producers so they could sell the singles. And then you had these fragmented albums.

Q: Are you planning on having your own label?

A: Yes, yes, yes. The Hector Lavoe soundtrack is the first album on it. It’s just me in partnership with Sony BMG. We’re in the midst of doing some interesting stuff.

Q: You and Jennifer Lopez have your own separate, successful careers, and yet you seem to be doing a lot together. How do you balance that?

A: Actually, what you’ve witnessed is literally only 1 percent of the stuff that has been made available to us. A big part of mine and Jennifer’s connection is the understanding that we have a passion for what we do. So, it’s just a natural progression to be involved. Me, I cannot sit down and have a conversation about image. That’s her strong suit. And she’s been doing a lot of shows lately and that’s something I understand. I love when she tells me, “Look, I have this show coming up, I want you to produce it, get the band, this and that.” She picks me up where I’m weak and I elevate her where she’s weak. That’s where the true partnership comes in.

Q: Is it true that the two of you might tour together?

A: Well, Jennifer has never toured. I’ve toured all my life. This is where I can step in and say, “Oh, my God, this could be fun,” and introduce her to that world. It is something she’s always wanted to do, but she’s never had the time. And I was offered many more films I never took advantage of because I was always on tour. So, yes, we’re seriously talking about going out this year, putting together an amazing show with just her and myself.

Q: Lopez has been a pioneer in creating that paradigm of the 360-degree artist who has many sources of revenue and many endorsement deals. You, however, have yet to enter into such business deals. Why?

A: It’s not for lack of interest or offers. I just have to see it first. I have to see myself in that position. But that exclusivity has served me well. The fact that I haven’t said “yes” means that when I do say “yes,” it will mean something. But Jennifer definitely softened that target for me. There could be a definite opportunity coming up.

Reuters/Billboard


Salsa Spins Beyond Its Roots

July 29, 2007

nytimes.com

Salsa Spins Beyond Its Roots
By JULIE BLOOM
Published: July 29, 2007

SOON after Héctor Lavoe, the great salsa singer, arrives in New York in the new biopic, “El Cantante,” he finds himself immersed in a vibrant scene in the Bronx: a nightclub crammed with bodies drenched in sweat moving to the pounding beat of congas. As the film, which is to open nationwide Aug. 3 and stars Marc Anthony as Mr. Lavoe, shows, it could have been any night in New York in the late 1960s, when dancing was a genuine physical manifestation of the energy of the streets.

But salsa dancing has changed dramatically since the heyday of Mr. Lavoe, whose career thrived throughout the 1970s and early ’80s, when hundreds of clubs throughout New York were packed nightly with Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans and other Latinos dancing to the music of people like Mr. Lavoe, Willie Colón and Ray Barretto.

Salsa is experiencing a revival in popular culture, with “El Cantante,” and “In the Heights,” the Broadway-bound musical that’s set in Washington Heights, along with moves spotted nightly on television shows like “So You Think You Can Dance.” But the dance form has largely disappeared from the New York clubs where it was born. The Cheetah Discotheque, Ochentas, Corso Ballroom have all long been closed. The last holdout, the Copacabana, was shuttered early this month.

Like many mercurial dance trends, the demise of salsa’s club life was due in part to the changing times. Hip-hop began to attract young Hispanic-Americans who might otherwise have gravitated to Latin music. At the same time ballroom denizens began to embrace salsa as a serious dance form, which further alienated young clubgoers. Today salsa is kept alive by an ardent band of semiprofessional dancers, not only in New York but around the world.

“Salsa has gotten bigger in the sense that more people are taking lessons, but the people who came up in the streets and know about the music aren’t dancing,” said Henry Knowles, a D.J. who has been spinning salsa for more than 30 years. “In the ’80s and ’90s you could go out every night of the week in New York and have four or five places to choose from, and all of them had live music, and you don’t find that, especially in the Bronx, which used to be known as the barrio of the salsa.”

Maria Torres, the woman responsible for bringing the dance scenes in “El Cantante” to life, has lived through the evolution firsthand through 20-plus years as a salsa dancer and choreographer. She danced on Broadway in “Swing!” in 1999, choreographed “4 Guys Named José … and Una Mujer Named Maria!” in 2000 and now teaches salsa and her own brand of Latin jazz throughout the world.

Over cups of café con leche at a Cuban coffeehouse near her home in Edgewater, N.J., Ms. Torres, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, recalled the days when salsa emerged.

“My father played the congas and on Saturdays my mom would cook and then we would spend the rest of the evening, all five of us, dancing,” she said of her early childhood in the ’60s. “The music and the dancing was a norm, and I knew young that I wanted to be a performer.”

When she was 12, she got her mother to sign her working papers early — the legal age was 13 — so that she could earn money to take dance lessons. Still, “there was no salsa at the time,” she said. “There was African, there was ballet, there was jazz. But there was no Latin.”

By the mid-1970s the 15-year-old Ms. Torres and her peers had begun to fuse mambo steps and movements with a grittier street style that reflected the changes people like Mr. Lavoe were making to salsa, giving it a harder edge.

Until then, she said, there were primarily only two styles of Latin dance known to the public: mambo and cha cha. “I went to this competition, it was freestyle, they were doing mambo, and I started laughing because I was like, ‘You don’t know what the kids are doing,’ so I started doing street stuff.”

With a new freestyle club background and formal dance training, Ms. Torres and others represented a new era of Latin dance, what has come to be recognized as salsa today.

Still, salsa remained a dance of the street, not taught but absorbed. That changed when Eddie Torres (no relation to Ms. Torres), brought the street into the studio in 1987. Mr. Torres, who runs the Eddie Torres Latin Dance Studio in Midtown Manhattan, grew up in Spanish Harlem and performed as a dancer with Tito Puente in New York throughout the 1980s.

“During the ’70s there was such a need for the education of this dance, and I was one of the guys that wanted to learn this, but there were no schools available,” he said in a phone interview.

Mr. Torres began teaching salsa as a dance technique after he choreographed a show for Puente at the Apollo Theater in 1987. “I hand-picked about 60 dancers from the nightclubs and I started teaching these dancers a routine. Afterwards I asked 12 dancers to stay with me and we formed the Eddie Torres Dance Company.”

For the most part Mr. Torres taught the dance as it was performed in clubs and on the street, but he made it more sophisticated by changing the emphasis of the steps to the music’s second beat, now known as breaking on two.

“There’s something in the rhythm section in a Latin dance called the tumbao,” he said. “It’s a time pattern that the conga player plays, and you’ll hear an accent, and it’s always on the second beat. This is why Tito Puente said breaking on two is natural, there’s a feeling in that beat that you gravitate to.”

Mr. Torres’s dancers soon started their own schools, spreading the more formal approach to salsa that is practiced today.

All the emphasis on technique has had a negative effect on the clubs. That change is evident at the Taj Lounge. For the past year this Indian restaurant in the Flatiron district has converted itself every Monday night into one of the city’s few remaining salsa clubs with live music.

Under billowing saffron canopies one recent Monday, one couple moved seductively around the dance floor, the man guiding his partner with his fingertips. The band, members of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and well-known salsa musicians like Bobby Allende and William Torres, played for no more that 15 people, all at some point expertly spinning and snapping around the dance floor.

Mr. Knowles, the D.J., was lukewarm about this new, serious breed of dancer. Most focus more on moves than on socializing and drinking. “The clubs depend on the bar,” he said, adding that if the dancers “want nice venues to go to, they need to understand what it takes to run a venue and support it and buy a few bottles.”

Franklin Ayala, a professional dance instructor who had come that night to perform a salsa routine for the other clubgoers, was also nostalgic about salsa’s grittier beginnings. “In the new age of dancing salsa mambo, the heart and soul are disappearing,” he said, sipping a bottle of Perrier. “Most of the people lack the cultural knowledge. The Copa used to be really great. Now everything is in the studio.”

But Mr. Torres said he believed that the changes are for the better. “Young salsa dancers are becoming Olympians, athletes in the dance, so they’re not thinking of drinking and doing drugs, like we did years ago.”

He admits that dancers with such strong technique can be intimidating. “You see people spinning like tops and flying in the air and gyrating, and doing this amazing movement and you want to run for your life,” he said. “It’s gotten so sophisticated. Before, we’d give the girls a little turn here, a little turn there. Now we start her off with 14 spins in the first bar.”

Besides the studios, salsa dancing is also thriving at salsa congresses, several days of workshops and performances that attract thousands of dancers from around the world. The original Salsa Congresso started in Puerto Rico in 1997; there are now congresses held in places as diverse as Los Angeles, Chicago, Britain, Romania, Dubai, Israel and Japan. New York’s annual congress is set for Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at the Hilton New York.

John (Choco) Knight, who started as a vendor at the salsa congresses selling T-shirts and is now the promoter for this year’s New York congress, hopes that the presence of salsa in pop culture will encourage young people to return to the clubs and reinvigorate the scene. “The youth like the hip-hop culture,” he said, “so we have a program for kids all over New York City and part of this is going to be the basics of salsa dancing and the other part is showing the kids how to play the congas.” The name of the seminar, he added, is “Salsa Is the New Hip-Hop.”

Ms. Torres joins Mr. Knight and Mr. Knowles in hoping that a resurgence of salsa in the mainstream draws back people who have turned away from it. “It’s not about 5, 6, 7, 8,” Ms. Torres said, “I tell people, ‘Close your eyes, move.’ Right or wrong, with that music, you can’t help it. I feel that, now more than ever, this generation wants to go back. We need to relax, simplify it, and hopefully it will come back here.”


Equality

July 28, 2007

EQUALITY

You declare you see me dimly
through a glass which will not shine,
though I stand before you boldly,
trim in rank and making time.

You do own to hear me faintly
as a whisper out of range,
while my drums beat out the message
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

You announce my ways are wanton,
that I fly from man to man,
but if I’m just a shadow to you,
could you ever understand?

We have lived a painful history,
we know the shameful past,
but I keep on marching forward,
and you keep on coming last.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

Take the blinders from your vision,
take the padding from your ears,
and confess you’ve heard me crying,
and admit you’ve seen my tears.

Hear the tempo so compelling,
hear the blood throb through my veins,
Yes, my drums are beating nightly,
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

– Maya Angelou