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Simeon Peebler / Blog

Notes on my additions to Take Down Your Flag

A young white man walked into a black church with deadly intention. Nine people were killed by the gun he used on them that terrible night. Two days later, folk songwriter Peter Mulvey wrote this song on the evening of June 19, 2015 and sang it that night at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, opening a show for Ani Difranco. He then asked for others online to help write more of the song. I have written my own middle parts, and I wanted to share some background behind the lyrics I added. I have added [brackets] with my notes.

Words: Every flag over Charleston is at half-staff today except one. Except one. Every flag over Charleston is at half-staff today except one. Except one. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. (My additions:) The doors of the church are still open today. [Powerfully, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church made sure the doors were open for service days after the massacre which occurred in the building.] Tears we've shed are not the first to come our way. [The history of racially motivated killings is very sadly nothing new.] From the belly of the ship, to hanging from the tree. Trayvon walking down the street, to I can't breathe. [I tried to paint a quick picture of the terrible aspects of racial discrimination -- from slaves being packed into the bottom of slave ships, to lynching and similar forms of black killing, to the murder of Travyon Martin while he was walking down the street, to Eric Garner's last words while being "accidentally" killed by police, "I can't breath."] Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. It is time to let go of the things we can't undo. [This is really pointed at the Confederate Flag holders who somehow hold on to the notion that the South should rise again.] Drop the master's whip and help build something new. [The roles of slave and master are etched into the minds of some people; we need to encourage a new way of thinking and embracing a mindset of discovering the power of human equality.] The hardest thing to do is admit when we're wrong. [Yes, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of racism and it is time to put it into a museum.] It's time for true courage, time to join in song. [Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole in Charleston and removed the flying Confederate Flag, was quoted as saying that now is the time for true courage. She is right, and I honor her statement here. As for joining in song, certainly this is exemplified by Peter Mulvey's song and his call to action. Over 130 songwriters to date have posted videos of their own versions of his song. But joining in song here also has another reference -- in a eulogy given by President Obama at the Emanuel AME Church, the president concluded his presentation by singing Amazing Grace. The entire congregation immediately joined in. Singing a universally known song.] Amazing grace. Amazing grace. Amazing grace. (Peter's ending:) Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. It will take all of the love in all of our hearts, and it will also take something more. It will take all of the love in all of our hearts, and it will also take something more. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. Take down your flag to half-staff. And then take it down for good. And then take it down for good.

On 07/12 @ 3pm EST Peter Mulvey will kick off a benefit for the Emanuel Hope Fund on Concert Window Concert Window Benefit Link: http://bit.ly/pmconcertwindow Emanuel Hope Fund: http://bit.ly/emanuelhopefund Take Down Your Flag YouTube Playlist: http://bit.ly/takedownyourflag - See more at: http://simeonpeebler.com/blog