Hundreds of musicians march downtown to celebrate new president, but
encourage the end to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
By Joshunda Sanders
Sunday, March 22, 2009
As most people walking around downtown Saturday afternoon headed
toward South by Southwest festivities, hippie icon Wavy Gravy (born
Hugh Romney), bobbed his head to the sounds of musicians gathered at
the steps of the Capitol to play songs for peace.
Wavy, who is in town for the premiere of a documentary about his life
called "Saint Misbehavin'," gave out hugs, bubbles and smiles to his
fellow war protesters Saturday afternoon at the fourth annual
demonstration dubbed the Million Musicians March for Peace.
Paraphrasing an Emma Goldman quote, he said, "If I can't dance, I
don't want your revolution."
Wavy, who was master of ceremonies at Woodstock and who was part of
the Hog Farm commune in Berkeley, Calif., was the march's grand
marshal, and he hitched a ride on the back of a bright yellow
pedicab. He led more than 100 people who marched from the Capitol
through downtown to City Hall, waving fuzzy pink peace signs and
singing "This Land is Your Land."
The march marked the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In
previous years, the mood of the two-mile march has been more somber,
activists said. But the election of President Barack Obama changed
that, said Richard Bowden, director of Instruments for Peace, one of
the groups that organized the march.
"The new president has changed the mood here," Bowden, 56, said.
"This is a better time than any other because we have someone who
might listen to us in office. We're providing the energy so he can
push the envelope."
The atmosphere was festive, said Marilyn White, 61, "but this is the
anniversary of a sad war. We want to show citizens of Austin and all
visitors to our city that we care about peace."
As the colorful crowd, dressed in everything from tie-dyed shirts to
fluorescent pink T-shirts, made its way down Congress Avenue, people
left coffee shops and restaurants to stare, wave or simply smile.
"We have to continue to rage against this war," said Nick Travis, 54,
a member of Instruments for Peace.
"Barack Obama can't be everywhere at once, and he's only been
president for a short time. But the struggle continues. And it'll go
on until after we pass."