What good is a march? Critics will say it’s just a ritual that a century of activism has taught authorities to control. The state looks tolerant—even open minded—when it provides space for a march. And in the meantime the government—especially this government—goes about its business.

But there is, in fact, nothing empty about a ritual. Ritual brings unification. It points to a shared history. It symbolizes a dense and thoughtful conviction. It allows for physical affection, even if that comes only from the press of the crowd. It lets the ministers take their stoles for a walk. It lets people declare, in public, their love for both home and neighbor. “I love Cedar Rapids!” said a Congolese immigrant at yesterday’s march. “And I’m running for mayor!” Marches are congregations. And at this time in our lives, they show there are more of us then there are of them. They show this so handily, in fact, that our opponents like to lie about them.

(Originally posted August 14, 2017)

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