Huffpost Politics

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dan Cantor Headshot

A Wake-Up Call

Posted: Updated:

The following is a transcript of my speech this weekend on Staten Island at the march protesting the death of Eric Garner, who was strangled by the police.

Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Dan Cantor, and I'm with the Working Families Party. I am humbled to be here. Truly humbled.

I was going to say a few things about politics. But the day has put something else on my mind.

Namely, my children. I've got two. My daughter's a teenager, my son in his early 20s. I love them very much and there really is nothing I wouldn't do to help them along their way in life. I worry about them, I laugh with them, I look forward to however many years God grants me with them.

I don't know the families of Eric Garner or Mike Brown, beyond what I've seen on the news. I never met Ramarley Graham or Amadou Diallo's families before today.

But here's what I do know. I know that Eric Garner's mother, that Mike Brown's mother, that Ramarley Graham's and Amadou Diallo's mothers loved their sons just as fiercely as my wife and I love ours. I know that every mother and father watches their children with awe and delight as they grow up.

No parent in the history of time has ever wanted to outlive their child. The deaths of older people are sad, but the deaths of the young are tragic. And all too often, senseless.

Today I'm thinking about senseless deaths of so many young men and women. Some in senseless wars. Some in accidents or crimes. And some at the hands of the police.

It's this last category that we as a people and a nation are trying to come to grips with right now. We count on the police to enforce the law and keep us safe - but it seems they sometimes use force instead of reason, and all too often make judgments about young men of color that they would almost never make about a white youth. That's just reality.

The deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown and so many others is a wake-up call, a signal to all Americans, but especially to people who look like me, that something is wrong. People in politics will say, "It's complicated. It's about jobs and housing and education and families and segregation and capitalism." That's all true. It is complicated.

But here's what's simple. Until the deaths of black mothers' sons are as important as the deaths of white mothers' sons, we are not realizing the promise of America. The Declaration of Independence said that "All men are created equal," but it wasn't true then, and it's not true now. Neverthess it is still the right ambition, the only ambition that is morally acceptable, and it falls to us to carry on the non-violent struggle for a decent America. That's what the Working Families Party is pledged to do, and I offer our political hearts and minds to the battles ahead.