Sonia Sanchez reading auditorium 132 CSULA Industrial Arts Complex Thursday May 14, 7:50 PM, “This is the earth, this is the 21st century, certainly our elders have done a mess, young people need to prepare to take it over, you should be pissed, because it’s the earth, you must step up and say to the 1% who run everything, why do they think they have a right to all of that money, at some point we gotta deal with that—thank you for coming out, to listen to this thing called poetry, I want to thank the people who brought me here, I call on Sandy Smith, Rosa parks, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, June Jordan, Octavia Butler, Toni Cade Bambara, Barbara Deming…”


Sonia Sanchez reads a long list of activist artists and public agitators for social justice, Mike Sonksen sits beside Michael C. Ford, Mike Willard’s on his way home by train (his boy’s school’s open house, open), Doug Kearney down in front holding his hat, Lauri Ramey sips from a water bottle, Enrique Berumen saw me and took five minutes to catch up on ten years, jovial as ever, gave me his card, “it’s been an honor to be on the earth with them,” Sonia Sanchez says, a woman named Karine earlier hugged me earlier (she thought I was someone else), she asked how did it feel to know so many languages, I said I only knew three, and for the first twenty minutes of her reading the dean of students stands at the back of the auditorium looking at his cell phone, then he leaves…


“We closed down Harlem Hospital, because the electrical unions and plumbers unions would not hire blacks and Puerto Ricans, I mean this was already the 1960s, and my father was looking down on us from a building overlooking the street, we had our backs to 135th Street,” Sonia Sanchez says, telling the story of integrating NYC unions through civil disobedience, in part, got her troubled gay brother a job as an electrician (“the phone rang and rang, it was about 3 AM, I knew who it was, ‘Yes, Dad,’ I said when I finally picked it up, ‘What do you want?’ In those days I was not very polite to my dad, and when he finally got through saying what he had to say, I told him, ‘Oh, and tell Wilson to show up tomorrow at 8 AM’ and I told him where, and he said, ‘What for?’ “It’s a job, Dad, what do you think we’re doing this for?'”)—earlier she’d become emotional, tearing up, describing her brother’s troubles before he died of AIDS—then she reads from a book “in their voices” about her family: “I go right to the hospital, and wipe him down with a moist cloth, until he tells me to stop, it hurts…”

sonia sanchez