Why Black Lives Matter

July14.FBEvent (2)

Click here to reserve your spot!

Together We Rise: Building Bridges for Justice invites you to join us for our upcoming event, “Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice,” a vigil and teach-in that will explore the concept “Why Black Lives Matter: Racial Injustice and The Path Forward.”

On Saturday, July 14, our weekly Vigil, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at Two Wrasslin’ Cats, 374 Town Street, East Haddam (junction of Routes 82 and 151), will be held in memoriam of Sandra Bland and the outrageous treatment she suffered, which culminated in her unnecessary death in a Texas jail.  The vigil will include music, poetry, and speakers.

The main speaker at the vigil will be the Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr., who is a co-founder, with his wife Pamela Selders, of Moral Monday CT and the Poor Peoples’ Campaign Connecticut. Both organizations gather voices in the struggle for freedom and justice for black and brown people. Rev. Selders is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, and is the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT. He is a former Associate College Chaplain and the current Assistant Dean of Students at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. For 15 years, he served as Executive Director of Zezzo House (an 18 unit housing project) in Hartford, CT. Moral Monday CT, a grassroots statewide organization, is committed to a wide range of social justice issues. It was started in response to the Reverend Doctor William Barber’s Moral Monday movement in North Carolina in which the recent restrictions on voting rights was a focus. In 2018, Rev. Selders co-founded the new Poor Peoples Campaign-CT, which is rooted in the social justice and civil rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose original Poor People’s Campaign was formed in 1968 with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The vigil will be followed by a workshop and conversation, where we will discuss the historical basis of Racial Injustice in this country, and how we can consciously, socially, and politically effect change.  The workshop and conversation portion of the program will take place at St Stephens Church, 31 Main Street, East Haddam, from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM, and will be led by Rachel Spears, who is a Visitor Center Coordinator at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.  In addition to giving interactive tours about Stowe’s life, she is a facilitator in the award-winning Salons at Stowe program series, which provide hour long discussions on relevant social and political issues, and she recently began a Words that Changed the World book club.  Prior to being hired at the Stowe Center, Rachel worked as an intern for the marketing department. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Communications at the University of Hartford, where she is specializing in gendered communication. She received a Cum Laude undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Sociology and Human Rights.  As an undergrad she won the Miss Black Connecticut 2005 title, where her platform was girl empowerment

Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch for the second half of the program.  Bag Lunches may be ordered ahead of time from Two Wrasslin’ Cats.  Cold drinks and snacks will be provided.

Black History Month Poetry Read-In

We are pleased to announce our second annual “African-American Read-In,” to be held on Sunday, February 25th, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, at Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House, 374 Town Street, East Haddam, at the junction of Routes 82 and 151.

This event, which will open the 2018 Together We Rise CT Poetry Series, celebrates Black History Month, and is part of the National African American Read-In sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. Last year’s African-American Read-In was an energetic and well attended event, with readers and listeners enjoying a rich variety of poems by African-American poets and building a powerful sense of community, which continued throughout the 2017 Poetry Series.

Participants are encouraged to bring favorite poems by African American poets to read, read from the selection of works by African-American poets that will be available at the Read-In, or just come and support this important event.

For more information: TOGETHERWERISECT.COM, or contact Mark at Two Wrasslin’ Cats 860-891-8446, Janine Broe at jrfreeland1@yahoo.com, or Edwina Trentham at 860-873-1472

The reading is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Women’s March 2018: Christine Palm Speech

Women’s March 1-20-18, East Haddam, Connecticut
Christine Palm

One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out —
that we couldn’t sustain the momentum. But in this past year,
it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.

Not the racism, misogyny, or lies.
Not the disastrous economic polices,
the rape of the land,
the suppression of voters’ rights.
We haven’t overlooked all the attacks on the First Amendment.
Nor the homophobia, Islamophobia, or xenophobia.
Not the deportation of families nor the subjugation of unarmed black people.
Or the mocking of people with disabilities.
Not the attacks on the elderly and the young,
on healthcare and education,
on living wages and working families.

It has not escaped our notice that this administration
is defunding programs for veterans,
kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military,
and attacking women’s reproductive rights that have been in place for decades.

We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing, pussy-grabbing, money-grubbing and gerrymandering.

The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.
Because, to quote the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley (who lived in Chester, by the way):
“There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us.”

That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.

So thank you for coming together today. For not being afraid to show your compassion.

Thank you for standing next to someone you don’t know, but someone you trust believes, as you do, in what’s right.

Thank you for paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world.

Thank you, Together We Rise, the Valley Stands Up, Action Together, Indivisible, Politica CT, Emerge, Ella’s List, SLDW, and ALL the new, well organized progressive groups.

Special thanks to the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.

Let’s talk about the word “vigil” — it means, literally, to stay awake when others are sleeping.

It’s where we get “vigilant” — and we all know the importance of keeping an eye on our government these days.

But it’s also where we get “vigilante.” So in our zeal to reject the Trump administration’s “normalization” of evil and in our defense of the truth, we need to keep listening and talking to one another so the power doesn’t continue to get concentrated in the hands of the few.

That’s what this march — and last year’s march — and all the marches yet to come — are about. Keeping the power with us, the people. — saying “yes” to vigil” and “no” to vigilante. Because, contrary to what that dangerous, malevolent buffoon in the White House thinks, there are no “fine” or “well-meaning” Neo-Nazis.

The great labor activist Cesar Chavez knew this. He said, “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”

I think a lot about Chavez these days. It’s hard not to wonder what he and other social justice leaders of the past would say to us now.

In 1974, when I was in high school, some friends and I helped organize a rally in the North End of Hartford, at the Horace Bushnell Church, to raise money for the United Farmworkers Union. We brought Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez to the city. It was a beastly hot night. The church was old, and poor, and without air conditioning. There were about 100 of us. We listened to that great man speak, and then we danced an impromptu, free-form little contra dance. It was one of the greatest thrills of my life — to have Cesar Chavez “do-si-do” me around. Sweat was streaming down his face, and I asked him if he needed to rest — he was 47, but to me, at 17, he seemed ancient and I was afraid he’d pass out in the heat.

“No,” he said. “Let’s dance.”

“But it’s so hot…”

“No, he said. “Look around this room at these beautiful faces. It’s not hot in here, it’s very, very cool.”

So today, on this New England winter day, I suggest we look around at these beautiful faces — these faces of justice and change — and we feel the fire in this crowd.

To the folks who’ve marched before — yes, it’s hard to believe we’re still fighting.

If you, too, marched with the Farmworkers, or were a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights era, you may be weary of the fight.

If you protested the Viet Nam War — or fought in it — or the wars that followed.

If you were a first wave feminist in the women’s movement, or protested nuclear expansion.

If you joined the American Indian Movement, or the fight for same-sex marriage.

If you Occupied Wall Street, and know that Black Lives Matter, you may be tired.

For so long, it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong. But please, do not give up.

We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.

And to you Millennials, thank you. For some of us, our first political memory is JFK’s assassination, and the spate of assassinations that followed.

Yours is the explosion of the Twin Towers. You have heard your parents worry because of the financial implosion of 2008. And you’re saddled with debt and a bad job market.

You had no hand in creating any of this.

But you are also the first generation to instinctively accept the fact that we all have the right to love whomever we choose.

As technological natives, you have networking skills this movement needs.

And your passion and energy cannot be overestimated.

It’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves — whether for the first time or the hundred-and-first. So, some practical steps we can all take:

If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which have been lost and won by a handful of votes.

If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary.

If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.

If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in.

If you can walk, knock on doors.

If you can hear, make telephone calls.

If you like to cook, make food for a house party.

If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group.

If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor.

If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.

If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol. Your elected leaders will listen to you. And if they DON’T, vote them out!

Because just as we say NO to so much going on in Washington, we’re here today to say YES to many things, too.

YES to a free and unfettered press that is fighting back, that will not, to paraphrase the Washington Post, let democracy die in darkness;

YES to new leadership in government.

YES to that voice within each of us that says, Now is the time.

So, yes, stay vigilant. But stay hopeful, too. Above all, stay together.



Women’s March 2018 Sophie Gable Speech


Good Morning everyone, my name is Sophie Gable. I want to begin by expressing how extremely honored I feel to speak to you all today. When I was asked to speak I must admit it was met with hesitation. This was not due to a fear of public speaking or just simply not knowing what to say. I was hesitant because I was finally given a platform to discuss something that I have always been so incredibly passionate about. There’s so much I could say about feminism and women’s rights it was hard to narrow down what exactly I wanted to address. So I decided to start by telling my story and how I became such a passionate feminist.
There were many moments in my life when I realized I would half to work twice as hard as my male peers. There were moments when I realized I would have to endure obstacles men never would. One of these moments was before one of my very first “real” parties. My dad was driving me and I can remember him emphasizing how important it was to never leave my drink unattended. For a young pre-teen this was a very confusing conversation but as I grow older I realize how necessary it was. Now as a 17 yr old girl applying to colleges I only hear that advice more and more. Whenever I mention college that advice always makes its way into the conversation and I can’t help but notice that my male friends can’t relate.
Another one of these defining moments was when the man asking for the highest seat in our country casually bragged about sexual assault. Despite, these remarks he still gained the support of a large percentage of our country. It was then when I realized women do really need to work twice as hard as men. My passion for politics was ignited and I so desperately wanted my voice to be heard.
There were many other smaller moments in my life that led to my passion as well. The countless debates I’ve engaged in at school with people that couldn’t recognize a woman’s perspective. When I was in elementary school and adults would tell me a boy in my class was treating me with disrespect because he “liked me.” Or the many times I’ve witnessed demeaning behavior dismissed with a simple “boys will be boys.” These are the moments that made me what to fight for equality. Society has ingrained women to be seen as less than men for centuries and this battle for equality is long overdue.
When I think about the obstacles women have to face, I look to the positive female role models in my life to inspire and empower me. I look at all the women who have stood up before me. I look to my mother, to the women who have recently spoke out against sexual violence, to the women striving to send positive messages to young girls, and to the women in politics fighting for equality. When I feel hopeless I look to the past to the women who had it worse. Women are standing up more than ever before. We are uniting to seek change and I am confident that one day we will live in a world where young girls don’t have to feel confused about their place in society. One day we will live in a world where we strive for equal representation in Congress. A world where women have just as much of a say as men. I hope to not ever have to warn my daughter about watching her drink the way my father had to. I hope the next generation of women don’t ever have to feel threatened walking down the street. I hope they don’t ever decide not to take a leadership position or shy away from math and science careers. Every woman that decides to advocate for equal pay, walk away when they feel uncomfortable, or showcase their intelligence in the presence of men brings us one step closer to that world. And every man that decides to not encourage in “locker room talk,” to compliment a woman’s intelligence instead of her short skirt, or embrace qualities that are not deemed “manly” take us one step further as well. The work we do today helps those who have to endure tomorrow. Thank you.

Sunday Syrian Supper

On Sunday, September 24, 2017, Together We Rise CT will be hosting a meal to promote and celebrate the culinary traditions, cultures, and stories of Syrian refugees resettled in Connecticut.  Tickets can be purchased here 

We are deeply honored to have the Hamou Family generously donating their time and expertise to cook this meal for us. The Hamou Family resettled in Lyme/Old Lyme area, after fleeing their beloved home in Syria. They have elected to have the funds raised from this dinner to benefit IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) & the important work they do of resettling refugees in Connecticut.

We hope you will join us for this night of community & compassion.

HAMOU family 2017 178-1

HAMOU family 2017 178

Simple Gifts: A Night of Food and Song in Defense of Freedom

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 2.40.14 PM

June 2, 2017 – THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT…..

Can't make the event but still want to make Simple Gifts a smashing success? Email us at togetherwerisect@gmail.com about how to be an Event Angel and_or how to make a donation to the Im

The Immigrant Bail Fund

Immigrants are increasingly being detained in our state and our country – though almost 70 percent of them turn out not to be deportable. People who cannot afford bail wait in detention for months. They lose their jobs. Their kids enter the child welfare system. It’s horrible. The bail fund can get them home to their lives while their cases are being resolved. After an immigrant’s case is resolved, the bail fund gets the money back, so they can use it to bail out another person, then another…