musings of a subway performer and lifelong troubadour

25 Years after Tiananmen Square; I'm Still a Witness

Added on by Cathy Grier.

Last week marked the 25 year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising in China. It was a heroic demonstration of the people taking a public space in protest of a totalitarian regime. In the 25 years since that uprising and the use of armed forces to suppress civil disobedience, there have been more and more widely broadcasted protests against nations near and far. 

A defunct and corrupt government in Egypt. 

Civil unrest against election results and media control in Iran.

An uprising against Wall Street bailouts in our own country. 

And so on...

Through these many demonstrations have come hundreds of news stories. Sometimes the distance is too far for me to reach physically, and in those moments, I am solely a witness. 

As a singer and songwriter, I use my voice to witness these incidents to others and to ensure the memories of the oppressed and the murdered stay alive. I continue to be a witness in the vein of folk-singers past, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. No matter the distance between myself and the awful stories on the 24-hour news cycle, I am still a witness, and I keep on witnessing to those who can still hear. 

I wrote a song entitled "Witness," inspired by the courageous protestors who were at TIananmen Square. This song is for those lost in the fight for freedom. I first released it on my "Retracing" CD recorded in Key West, FL in 1998. It is available to you as a free download. And here are the lyrics.

As a songwriter I write to express my reaction to events like Tiananmen, through song I am relieved at the same time that I am outraged. In reality I continue to allow events to inform my creative world and in that world I can find solace. 25 years ago there was no such thing as "social media" and the internet as we know it. Today I use it as another path to share with you.

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