Stars are showing up at the Families Belong Together marches across the United States Saturday and speaking out about the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
John Legend spoke to the crowd at the Los Angeles rally.
“I know opening up Twitter right now feels like it can be a horror show. So much of the news is shocking and maddening and depressing,” he said. “I think some of us have a strong temptation to just disengage, but we can’t. We can’t do that. I can’t do that. I have to do something.”
He then performed his new song “Preach,” the message of which fit the situation perfectly.
“Every day I wake/Everything is broken/Turning off my phone just to get out of bed,” he sang. “Heaven knows I’m not helpless/But what can I do?… I can’t just preach, baby, preach”
“Orange is the New Black” star Diane Guerrero held back tears during the rally in Washington, D.C., as she talked about being separated from her family and the lasting impact it has had on her.
“I am here today as a woman who as a young child was separated from her family. I am here today to be painfully honest about the damage these government policies do to human beings, do to kids,” she said. “Even some 17 years later, I can still remember how it felt when I first cried out for my parents and they couldn’t answer.”
She continued, “I have to believe that this an opportunity to rise above the tyranny, the ignorance, the malpractice and believe in change. This is a chance for us to come together as a nation and rise above division and fear. Only then can we stop the separation of families and stop the policies that place children in cages.”
Alicia Keys and America Ferrera took the stage together to give emotional speeches, which touched on the reasons they were marching.
Keys took the mic first, introducing herself as “a mother.”
“My seven-year-old son is here with me today. His name is Egypt. And I couldn’t even imagine not being able to find him,” she said. “I couldn’t even imagine being separated from him or scared about how he is being treated, so this is all of our fight, because if it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child and your child and all of our children.”
Ferrera’s speech was passionate and touched on motherhood, her Honduran roots and the duty she feels to be “defending justice.”
“I am here not only as a brand new mother, as the proud child of Honduran immigrants and not only an American who sees it as her duty to be here defending justice. I am here as a human being with a beating heart, who can feel pain, who understands compassion and who can easily imagine what it must feel like to struggle the way families are struggling right now,” she said. “It is easy to imagine that I would hope that if it was my family being torn apart, if it was my brother being arbitrarily criminalized, if it was my sister who was being banned, that someone would stand up for me and my family.”
She continued, “It is that simple. This fight does not belong to one group of people, one color of people, one race of people, one gender — it belongs to all of us. What makes humans remarkable is our capacity to imagine. We have an imagination, let’s use it.”
The stars also shared stories from families being affected by the policy.
Keys read the words of a mother whose son was held in immigration detention while Ferrera read a letter from a man who “is fighting to be reunited with his granddaughter.”
While reading the grandfather’s letter, Ferrera got choked up after urging the crowd to “imagine that this is your child, that you are this grandfather.”
Later, Keys left the crowd chanting “we’re not backing down” after sharing her final thoughts.
“Our democracy is at stake. Our humanity is at stake. We are out here to save the soul of our nation,” she said. “We need all the children reunited to their parents. We demand to end the zero humanity policy. We need to save the Supreme Court and we need to vote, because when we vote, we win.”
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