From January 1974 through August 1987, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. During most of those years, I was a peace & justice activist involved in almost every aspect of political work, from union organizing with women hospital workers and the United Farmworkers Union to working against the Briggs Initiative (Prop 6) in 1978; non-violent direct action (civil disobedience) in opposition to US policy in El Salvador and nuclear weapons development at the Lawrence Livermore Lab; GLBT rights; and anti-apartheid actions and rights of persons with disabilities. Also during much of that time, I was a graduate student at the Graduate Theological Union, a Catholic activist in a base Christian community. Many of my experiences during those years happened with your music accompanying me, my sisters and brothers, my friends and mentors. A few vivid memories...
In 1975 (I think), during a rally outside of the Safeway Supermarket headquarters somewhere in the Bay Area, you sang off the back of a pick-up truck in support of members of the United Farmworkers Union. We were boycotting Safeway to put pressure on the CA lettuce growers to bargain with the UFW for a union contract….
Saturday, 24 May 1980, La Pena, Berkeley, CA: A number of us from the Graduate Theological Union, Catholic & Protestant seminarians, women & men, came to your concert that evening. You sang a number of songs from your most recently released album, "Fire in the Rain," including the title tune; later that night, that tune became the theme song of my next several weeks....
Concert in San Francisco, sometime in the 1980's: I'd invited a friend who was struggling with issues of coming out; she'd fallen in love with another woman, and the other woman couldn't handle it. My friend was wondering, is it worth the struggle? You brought such joy, such hope, such possibility to life as a lesbian woman that, by the time we left, my friend had decided she was in love -- with you! I suggested that she wasn't the only Bay Area lesbian with such feelings. She laughed….
Redwood Records wonderful day-long concert at the UC Berkeley Amphitheater, summer 1985: What a terrific day! I remember the weather being perfect, the music fantastic. I still have a t-shirt from that concert!
Holly, your music --and your presence-- have been in my life for nearly 40 years now. Your songs have taught me, moved me, motivated me, comforted me, helped me during times of loneliness, reassured me during times in jail after engaging in Civil Disobedience, given me a place in which to cry when a relationship has fallen apart, given me joy when I've once again risked myself and fallen in love. With and in your music, the personal and the political intertwine and interconnect as they do in life, at least, in my life.
Thank you, Holly, for your music, your activism, your witness, and your work.
Blessings of Shalom,