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Barbara Lee welcomed to NYC

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 12/14/2011, 5:58 p.m.
Barbara Lee welcomed to NYC

A somber, reflective mood was established by Silver Cloud, two Native American performers, Kevin Tarrant and George Stonefish, as they sang a welcoming song for Rep. Barbara Lee of California last week at Campanile Restaurant in Manhattan.

Tarrant, a Winnebago, and Stonefish, a Delaware, pounded hand drums and sang their good wishes to the crowd. It was a moving ritual.

Moving too were the words of commendation for Lee from the legendary Harry Belafonte. He noted how they had evolved together in the struggle for civil and human rights.

"There's no way I can capture all that she has meant in our fight for social justice," Belafonte began. "Sometimes we forget how much your remarkable career has meant to us, but we deeply appreciate you and all that you've done."

When Lee's turn came to speak, she was equally thankful for Belafonte's peerless leadership and uncompromising stand for freedom, justice and equality. "Thank you for your friendship," she told the great artist and activist. She recalled the first time she met him, in 1977, when she was working for Rep. Ron Dellums.

"We were then in the midst of struggling to end the blockade against Cuba and you stood right with us," she recalled.

Lee also extended her praise to the Native American performers, noting how important it is to remember one's heritage.

In later interview, Lee offered her impressions of the Occupy Wall Street movement and, more specifically, Occupy Oakland, where there have been dramatic encounters between protesters and the police.

"OWS is here to stay, and I'm proud of what they are doing," she said. "Yes, I do believe this is a new day, but they, whether they know it or not, are a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement, those heroes and sheroes of the past."

Among those in attendance were Bill Lynch Jr., attorney Robert Van Lierop, Susan Taylor and a representative from the South African government.