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Declaration 1. Born Equal

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Photo of a tree in front of a group of buildings with a commemorative plaque beneath it

The Root Cause: The plaque reads ‘this tree was planted on December 12th 1998 by the Hornsey and Wood Green Group of Amnesty International to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’

This year I got involved in local conservation issues. I picked up on an issue and posted this poem on The Hornsey Town Hall Facebook Group who immediately appointed me ‘poet in residence – no payment, just kudos’, which i accepted with a thrill and gratitude. Where the poem partly came from is explained below where the text ‘Article 1:’ starts.

But it started somewhere else too. It started in my history as a sometime activist within the disability movement. It started with my poetry practice on DAO, it started in my life as an advocate, it started in the flat i live and love in, it started with some plain english representation of human rights for people with learning disabilities in Brent, it started with my personal sense of politics. The project goes on and will be repeated here for DAO readers. Key in.

Declaration 1 Born Equal
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Last week I noted, if not for the first time, a plaque recognising a celebration of 50 years of Human Rights. The plaque was by a tree on a green that is up for redevelopment, that stands before a community and arts centre that is likely to be lost, below a hill where Victorian Villas next to my home are likely to be demolished. The bulldozers and cranes are revving up in the distance and there are those who stand and wait before them

Declaration: Born Equal

Rise Hornsey Rise
Rise for your Brothers
Their sisters and their mothers

Your Brothers Spirits are high
As high as the hill to the rise
As high as the tower they love

But your brothers spirits can be broken

Broken
When their reasoned objections fail
Broken
When the voices of these but few go unheard
Broken
When the conscience of those who
Act deaf to words
Act against the brotherhood

So act Hornsey
Hornsey rise and act
For you are free
And welcome
Within your freedom to act

Not rising Hornsey
Leaves your brothers squashed
Defeated and unequal
In the vice grip of potent power
That serves to beat resistance

Wherefore lies your dignity
Hornsey when Hornsey did not rise
And left the brothers in apathetic malaise
To lose
Their fight for freedom
What for your wasted tears now
As too late the edifice tumbles
And the monstrous towers rise

Too late then the right to speak

So rise Hornsey Rise
Rise high
As high as towers
As high as cranes
And speak your minds

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