by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
and El Comité
Special to the SGN
'I love my people!'
That's what Seattle recording artist Jack Mozie excitedly said as he was leaving the main stage at the recent May Day Rally at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle.
For Ramiro Alonso Orellana-Guzman, known more commonly by his stage name, Jack Mozie, May Day means something more for the singer and songwriter than just a day of marching or taking off work in solidarity with the undocumented immigrants that are calling for comprehensive immigration reform. Jack Mozie was born and raised until the age of 12 in Lima, Peru. Up until September 2012, Jack was not a U.S. citizen. So to say that the issue of immigration reform is near and dear to his heart would be an understatement. Jack, at one time, lived that struggle, and even now, some of his family continues to struggle in hopes of a better tomorrow.
Many of his fans might be surprised to learn that Jack Mozie spent over a decade in the United States as an undocumented immigrant.
On May 1, at the invitation of El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition, Jack Mozie performed the single 'JUMP' off of his 2013 album Iron Fist. Jack told Seattle Gay News that he felt honored because equal to his passion for music is his commitment to social justice, especially for LGBT people and immigrants. Mozie hopes that through his songs, he can inspire others to change the world. The song 'JUMP' is about immigration reform.
'Performing 'JUMP' at the immigration rally was a life changing experience,' he told SGN. ' When I first wrote the song I never imagined it would get so far. I just wanted to tell my story. I hope my story can inspire others not to give up and that 'JUMP' brings change for the undocumented community I was once a part of.'
Jack Mozie told popular Gay news blog Bilerico Project, 'History shows that pop music has a very strong influence on society. From Madonna and Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga, they all used pop music to create change in the world. When I was 14 years old, I said I wanted to take over the world so I can set it free. And ... that's still what I want to do. I'm holding onto that child part of myself that wants to make a positive difference.'
Although he is only 24-years-old, Jack Mozie does not shy away from politics.
'The LGBT community moved forward with equality because we organized and protested,' he said. 'The undocumented community and allies are now doing the same. We are organizing and letting our government know we are not just a number, but we are a significant part of the population and a community that stands united.'
He says he is aware that there are some people that believe pop stars should not comment on politics. He disagrees with that sentiment.
'Any form of expression is that, expression,' said Jack Mozie. 'As an artist I have been able to speak up and have a louder voice that allows me to make others aware of the issues in the undocumented community.'
'If my music doesn't have a purpose, if my music doesn't cause change or make an impact, then it's just a bunch of random words put to rhythm,' he continued. 'I cannot call myself a true artist if I don't fight for social justice.'
Jack says he believes that young voters will be the turning point in the fight to achieve true and lasting immigration reform across the nation.
'We are part of a generation that wants equality and change and we are growing in numbers and it will reflect on the ballot,' he said. 'If our government doesn't do it right, we will.'
Jack Mozie also performed the Marc Anthony hit single 'Vivir mi Vida' with Latin Rose, another up and coming Latino recording artist in the area.
According to El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition, an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Seattle to participate in the 14th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights. The events began at Judkins Park at 2 p.m., with a brief program that included music, speeches, and logistical announcements for the march. Participants then filed westbound, on Lane Street to start the March at 3 p.m. At around 3:30 p.m., the march departed from St. Mary's Church, with Danza Ce Atl Tonalli, setting the tone.
According to officials, despite a detour from the regular march path of years' past, due to construction on the western portion of South Jackson Street, the march still drew a larger attendance than last year. The march swelled, with contingents of groups joining along the way on South Jackson Street and 20th Avenue, along Boren Avenue, as well as on several street corners on First Hill and downtown Seattle. Included among these groups were contingents for organized labor and for a coalition of activist youth groups from the Seattle area.
The march concluded at Westlake Park, as thousands streamed in from 4th Avenue.
Dr. Reverend Leslie D. Braxton addressed the crowd, speaking on the need to join as a larger social justice community. 'We have the power, and the tools to work for what is right! When we join our immigrant brothers and sisters. When we join our brothers and sisters in labor. When we join our brothers and sisters struggling for a dignified wage. When we join our brothers and sisters in the Black community, in the Latino Community, in the Native community, in the Asian community, we will see a better, more just society.'
Councilmember Kshama Sawant also offered remarks on the struggle for worker justice. 'It is your presence, your continued push, that has forced the city to acknowledge the need for a livable minimum wage. You made a profound statement. That we are not playing around, we are not playing around with peoples' lives. Workers deserve more, and we say no to deduction in wages for tips, and we say no to deducting health care from workers' hourly wage. We don't have time to wait while many workers live in poverty.'
Other speakers at the rally also addressed larger regional issues, with updates on the ongoing campaign by immigrants that are detained at the Northwest Detention Center. One speaker detailed the conditions in the Tacoma-based center, which include inadequate medical care, poor nutrition that is provided, unreasonable charges for communicating with family via telephone, and mistreatment and neglect by center staff in general. These grievances were what lead to a hunger strike in late February. The campaign for better conditions is ongoing.
There was also a call to continue the Boycott of Sakuma Farms products by members of the organization Familias Unidas por la Justicia in Skagit County. Workers have been in a labor dispute over work conditions and wage theft over the last year and held a march for Farmworker Dignity on May 4 in Bellingham.
'This for me was such an honor and privilege that I cried when Juan Bocanegra called me and asked if I could sing for May Day,' said Ruth Alfaro, who goes by the stage name, Latin Rose. 'When I saw all my people marching and chanting for the same cause ... it made my soul sing! When I started singing the song that I made for the Latin and LGBTQ community called 'Vive La Vida' I got such a rush; this moment is what I was born for! ... No more deportations, no more discrimination, freedom and justice for all!'
For more information about the May Day March and Rally, contact the following: El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition call (206) 650-2106 or (206) 696-1348, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Jack Mozie, including booking information, photos and announcements for upcoming shows, go to www.JackMozie.com.
Interview with Jack Mozie by Shaun Knittel; report on the march and rally courtesy of El Comité
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