Congrats to the phenomenal Yuri Kochiyama and Holly Near! Today, 1000 women were announced as nominees of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005. The announcement is part of a project to nominate, recognize and document the work of 1000 amazing women in peace building and social justice for the Nobel Peace Prize. I am lucky to have met two of the nominees.
Yuri Kochiyama is one of the most well-known and respected Japanese American activists today. At over 80, she is a tireless advocate for political prisoners, and is known for her friendship with Malcolm X, and was there cradling his head when he was killed. Tony & I were fortunate to meet and have dinner with Grace Lee Boggs (Maiya Grace's namesake--another phenomenal woman!!) and Yuri during the UCLA Serve the People conference in 1998. More recently, Tony, Maiya and I went to see her in April for a talk and book signing of her biography written by our friend Diane Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. She also signed her book for us, Passing It On: A Memoir.
Holly Near, is my all-time favorite singer/writer/performer/activist. I own maybe 15 of her albums, tapes and CD compilations and have seen her in concert maybe 7 times. I was so fortunate to meet Holly several years ago at McCabe's Guitar Shop through Nobuko (my Great Leap partner and boss) and Derek, who worked with her back in the day. My friend Maria took me to see her in Pasadena when I was pregnant to celebrate my 40th birthday.
Anyways, here is the link to the http://www.1000peacewomen.org website. Here is an article about the 12 women from the Bay Area.
The 1000 women reminds me of one of Holly's songs, "1000 Grandmothers." She tells a story of how wars would be prevented if women, the grandmothers, were sent in to negotiate world peace. Definitely something to think about since Bush, Cheney and the rest just don't seem to get it.
Words and music by Holly Near
Send in a thousand grandmothers
They will surely volunteer
With their ancient wisdom flowing
They will lend a loving ear
First they'll form a loving circle
Around the wounded wing
Then contain the brutal beasts of war
Sweet freedom songs they'll sing
A lullaby much stronger
Than bombs and threats to kill
A force unlike we've ever seen
Will break the murder's will
To the prisons we'll invite them
The most violent men will weep
When a 1000 women hold them strong
And pray their souls to keep
Let them rock the few who steal the most
And rule with youthful charms
So they'll see the damage that they do
And will fall into grandma's arms
2000 loving arms
If you think these women are too soft
To face the world at hand
Then you've never known the power of love
And you fail to understand
An old woman holds a powerful force
When she no longer needs to please
She can cut your shallow life to bits
And bring you to your knees
We best get down on our knees
And pray for a thousand grandmothers
Will you please come volunteer
No longer tucked deep out of sight
Will you bring your power here
Will you bring your power here