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Ladale S. Benson: Put your body on the line for justice

Principle No. 11 of the Poor People’s Campaign: Bodies co-creating just futures. We uphold the need to do a season of sustained moral direct action as a way to break through the tweets and shift the moral narrative. We are demonstrating the power of people coming together across issues and geography and putting our bodies on the line to the issues that are affecting us all.

My grandfather would say: “Grandson, when you’re truly ready to be free, you will face whatever comes your way to attain it.” He was known for dropping quotes of wisdom, but this one came after we read an essay about Harriet Tubman. The ways that she placed her physical body in danger to pursue a collective freedom is not only inspiring but must be reckoned with in our organizing.

Imagine trying to navigate a dark forest toward freedom and many of the trees look so similar. You are not only traveling in the woods but are also directing others through the darkness. Every single sound matters, because if you’re heard, it could bring a tragic ending.

This journey is surrounded by those seeking to capture you. They are waiting for you to make a mistake. A loud crunch as you step on dried leaves. An echoed sneeze. All of these could give away the group’s location.

Tubman continued to place her body on the line for freedom not only for herself but for many others. The injustice that is infused inside our nation and our state requires that we do the same. Tubman reached a place of freedom with her individual body but knew freedom is an illusion alone, so she returned.

Maybe our calling is to continue to show up with our bodies until we are all free.

Ladale S. Benson is a member of the Salisbury Circle of the Poor People’s Campaign — A National Call for Moral Revival.

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