Lester Chambers Assaulted for Dedicating Song to Trayvon; Stevie Wonder Boycotts Florida

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June 16, 2013; The Raw Story


There have been so many songs and singers who have helped to embed the civil rights movement in the souls of Americans over the years, and there are moments many of us associate with each of those songs. Some of them are linked to powerful visual images of violence up against nonviolence.

And so it seemed all too familiar when Lester Chambers—age 73, and formerly of the Chambers Brothers—dedicated the 60s soul classic, “People Get Ready,” to Trayvon Martin, hours before the verdict was read and after he had sung. The video linked below is hauntingly beautiful because of the song, and its abrupt ending—where he is knocked to the ground by an angry woman from the audience—is a horrifying reminder of the work that remains undone.

Chambers was injured, but is recovering at home. The woman was booked on a misdemeanor.

On Sunday, at a concert in Quebec, Stevie Wonder declared he will not perform in Florida or anywhere that has a Stand Your Ground law.

“The truth is that, for those that are being lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world, we can’t bring them back. What we can do is we can let our voices be heard, and we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and for equality for everybody,” he told the audience. “That’s what I know we can do. And I know I’m not everybody, I’m just one person, I’m a human being. But for the gift that God has given me, and for whatever I mean, I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again. As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

The video of his wonderful statement is here.

This is not the first moral/political stand that this cultural icon has taken. He has also boycotted Arizona for its anti-immigration laws.—Ruth McCambridge

  • BSYR

    Will be interesting to see if the very talented Stevie Wonder follows through on this pledge, as there are currently more than 30 states in the US that have a “Stand Your Ground” law, also known as a “Castle” law. See the following link for specifics:

  • Tom King

    So let me get this straight. States in which you are required by law to attempt to run away, thereby turning your back on a potentially dangerous assailant or in which you must actually wait until you are fired upon, struck or, preferably, shot by an assailant before you are allowed to defend yourself are somehow safer than in states where, if you are attacked you don’t have to run or wait till you are shot when you are assaulted? Who is safer? Certainly not the folk on the receiving end of assaults, robberies and “a@#$ whoopings”.

    “Do not harm the attacker” seems to be the message the anti-stand-your-ground forces are trying to deliver. So are we not, therefore, teaching our children that it is better to be the attacker than to be the innocent victim – at least so far as your potential survival is concerned? Are we not virtually guaranteeing the shaping of a society in which the aggressor is the protected person and in which the victim must submit to what Rachel Jeantel colorfully described as a deserved “a@#$ whoopin'” or face jail time. Jeantel further claimed that Mr. Zimmerman didn’t understand that Travon “went back” only in order to administer a beating. Travon’s assault was not as an attempt to kill Zimmerman, but, according to Jeantel, because Travon thought Zimmerman was gay and needed to be taught a lesson so that Zimmerman wouldn’t attempt to molest Travon’s family members. If, as Jeantel maintains, George had simply taken his beating none of this would have happened.

    Someone needs to keep that girl off television if they’re going to ever maintain the “poor little innocent boy” image of Martin the politicos are using to stir things up. I am just as sorry this happened as anyone, but is this the case to hang our humanity on? With the incredible rate of slaughter going on lately in Chicago, which has strict gun control and no stand-you-ground laws, one has to wonder as to the efficacy of this strategy. Recently a kid Travon’s age was found behind a Chicago dumpster four days after gang members beat him to death for refusing to join a gang. Is this what happens to the innocent in a society that tells you that you must run or submit to being shot or struck if you don’t?

    Who exactly are we defending by insisting we repeal stand-you-ground laws. I know in my home state, the rates of assaults, home invasions and burglaries dropped significantly when my state adopted the castle doctrine – at least in my heavily armed neck of the woods. If someone levels a gun at you or raises a fist or club to strike you, your chances of survival go way down if you do not act fast. I fail to see how a person being attacked would find it better to be shot or struck in the back than to stop the attacker by any means at hand.

    Or perhaps we should simply make a law that all would-be attackers must wear a t-shirt that says, “I’m not going to kill you, just administer a “whooping” just to make sure we don’t try to shoot them or cause them unnecessary trauma..

    Just sayin’

    Tom King