In An America I Don't Recognize, Boston Is Still Home

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Sunday I joined over 15,000 Bostonians to protest the most recent executive order issued by our current president to limit access of Muslim immigrants from seven nations into our country.

We gathered near the Kahlil Gibran Memorial in the city’s beautiful and historic Copley Square. It was a fitting gathering place, as Gibran himself came to the US as a Lebanese immigrant over a century ago. An exceptional artist, writer, and philosopher, Gibran wrote and illustrated his most famous book, The Prophet, in Boston.

Ringing through my head were those words from the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus.” The poem — written in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, and mounted inside that monument today — has become emblematic of an America that opens her doors outward to the world.

Though America has a complicated history when it comes to immigration, it is still seen by many as a place where people from across the globe and from diverse backgrounds are welcomed and accepted.

Boston has a long, rich history as a place where those who were escaping enslavement came for safety; those fleeing the famine in Ireland came to make homes for themselves; it is a city where people from the Caribbean have emigrated and established roots that are deeply embedded in our city. Boston has been a place where people have come from countries in Asia and Africa, from Viet Nam to the Cape Verde Islands, to make new beginnings for themselves and for their families.

In 1764, Founding Father Samuel Adams nicknamed Boston the “Athens of America” – and we remain a place where new immigrants come to study , share their skills and talents. We know that the diversity of thought and experiences drive innovation, and enhance our shared American experience. We see it every day in our colleges and universities, our premier medical facilities, our cutting edge research facilities and world-class museums and institutions.

So. it was no surprise to me that thousands of us were out on Sunday afternoon standing in solidarity and protesting this egregious act by the nation’s 45th president to limit access to the opportunities that benefit us all.

This is not the America I know; but it is indeed my Boston, and we will continue to protest to ensure that the rights of all are protected and ensured.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices

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