Ronnie Dugger?s Speech on the U.S. Capitol
Upon Doris (Granny D) Haddock?s
Arrival in Washington, DC
February 29, 2000
Walking from California to Washington, Doris Haddock has walked into our hearts
and she has walked into history. Walking to Washington for democracy, she has joined the
Pantheon of great American women. We welcome Doris Haddock today into the company of
Margaret Fuller, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mother Jones, Jeannette
Rankin, Dorothy Day, Frankie Randolph, Rosa Parks, Elizabeth MacAllister, and Eleanor
To call her Granny D is OK for the press, and it's fun for all of us. But from
this day forward let us know Doris Haddock by her correct name. The point is not that
she's a great woman. The point is she is a great person. A great leader of the people. I
propose that, as an honorary matter, as far as we can do it, we declare her today the
first woman President of the United States.
Living on Social Security and a small income, leaving nothing to her children,
she decided to leave them democracy.
alking to Washington--closing up her home, saying goodbye to her family, for
after all, who could say--Bending into the wind, dripping sweat from the sun, dehydrated
in a sandstorm--hospitalized four days, stamping off the cold, on she comes ten miles a
day, the sleep of beat and drum, she comes on ten and then she comes ten more and ten, she
comes right, left, on tidal strides, fourteen hundred steps a mile, three thousand two
hundred miles, one step at a time.
"Sometimes a mile seems long," she says, "and I dedicate it to
someone at home." She brings us the voices and faces of the people. Her footfalls
beat on the drum that we are. And we resound with her strength and hope. This was not the
long armed march for power and dogma. This was the long unarmed walk for democracy and
justice. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gingrich shook hands; Ms. Haddock walked. Mr. McConnell said
money is speech; Ms. Haddock walked. Mr. Lott led the filibuster; Ms. Haddock walked.
Congress killed campaign reform again. Ms. Haddock walked. ("The
Senate!"--"The Senate!" called out members of the House of Representatives
behind the speaker--) The Senate--by members of the House, I stand corrected.
And now by God she's here. Doris Haddock has given us the whole of her 90th
year--She has given us her body, its pain, her breath. She has given us her fearlessness
of dying, her contempt of giving up even at 90, her contempt of safety and fireside.
Upright, walking to Washington as the earth has spun and tilted, she has given us her
faith in democracy, given us her hope, given us her courage.
hat will we give her back? What will we return for her audacity and risk? Why,
we return her faith, with our faith ? her hope, with our hope ? her courage,
with our courage. We tell our Congressmen, our Senators, OK, buddy, the jig is up ?
Give us full public funding for public elections, or we will know the reason why. For this
is what she tells us about ourselves: "We cannot be kept down. Our people love their
country. And they hate what is going on."
s. Haddock, some of us, under the sponsorship of the Alliance for Democracy,
have begun walking into the Capitol Rotunda and speaking out to stop the crimes against
democracy that are happening in the Capitol. To our surprise we have learned that the
First Amendment has been suspended in the Capitol. To speak out we have had to risk
arrest. Some of us have been arrested. Some of us are going to be tried on March 13 for
committing free speech in the Capitol. More of us, the third Democracy Brigade--the Doris
Haddock Democracy Brigade--are speaking out in the Rotunda today. We refuse to believe the
First Amendment has been suspended there.
And all year, month after month, more Democracy Brigades are going into the
Capitol to stop the Crimes against Democracy occurring there. All of you are invited,
after Doris Haddock speaks to us, to walk with us into the Rotunda and peacefully watch as
the third Democracy brigade exercises our First Amendment rights to stop the Crimes
against Democracy in there. And all of you are invited to join the Democracy Brigades, to
go in with us, again and again, until we get the right and privilege to pay for our own
elections! If you want more information about the Brigades, or to join us, telephone us at
ou have made the long walk, Ms. Haddock. Lord, have YOU put your foot down. We
have the years that you may not. We will walk into this Capitol as long as it takes. No
short-cuts--like you, we will go the distance for full public funding for public elections
and an end to corporate control of our beloved country. And when we win, you will be there
with us. The Law to Save Democracy will be the law from Granny D.
Subsequently in the Rotunda inside the Capitol, the 16 members of the Doris Haddock
Democracy Brigade conducted their speak-out protesting crimes against democracy. Acting in
four groups, with a new group coming into the center of the Rotunda as those already
speaking were escorted out by the police, the Brigadiers unfurled banners, read personal
declarations, and called for full public funding for public elections. Their first banner
said, "Granny D Is Right, Democracy's for Sale." About 175 citizen witnesses
lining the sides of the Rotunda cheered and called out to the Brigadiers during the
45-minute speak-out while about 30 uniformed Capitol policemen arrested them. The
officers, physically taking possession of the banners, cuffed the speakers' hands behind
their backs, led them into a paddywagon and drove them to the Capitol Police Building, and
booked and fingerprinted them for demonstrating in the Capitol. The 16 were released by
the Capitol Police in time for them to have dinner with Ms. Haddock, who gave each one of
them a kiss and a hug.