the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Hands Across America


I have a friend who is involved with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Group, which was started in 1966 by the iconic musician and activist Pete Seeger in response to his despair over the pollution of the Hudson River. Today, the organization is still thriving, and during the spring and summer, the schooner Clearwater sails down the Hudson, bringing the message of activism to thousands. On Saturday, my friend was going for a meetup with other crew members of the replica 19th Century sloop, and I was lucky enough to tag along. There was a pot-luck dinner, great conversation, and some old-fashioned folk-singing. I found myself feeling very comfortable, even when events turned hippyish. Who can resist the beat of Native American drumming?

Many at the meetup were preparing to attend the big march in Washington D.C. protesting Trump’s inauguration. A few said that they would be unable to go to Washington for various reasons, but Clearwater cleverly found a way for  everyone to show their support. A large protest banner was laid out on a table, and those who knew they couldn’t attend created a handprint by pressing their ink-painted hand onto the cloth.

This isn’t slacktivism; it’s symbolism. These individuals will be present in Washington, their hand raised high for all to see, even if they aren’t physically marching in the street. Not everyone has the ability to march. Everyone does their part in the way they can.

I’ll be marching in New York. But I know many of you will be marching in Washington and Los Angeles and Chicago and Raleigh and Miami.  When I go on Facebook next week ready to go into Manhattan to march, feel free to post a photo of YOUR HAND in my Facebook comment section, and I will know you are there with me. I will be doing the exact same thing with you, our hands together in friendship, love, vulnerability, and strength.  Let’s watch out for and support each other.


  1. Brian

    Gorgeous words and photos. As always. Never stop doing this for you, Neil. For you only. We’ll just tag along for the wonder …

  2. a

    I am a grandma in Kansas who cannot join in either person, or by that tech magic, but I will be with you/us all in spirit. Last week I found this quote attributed to Maya Angelou: “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” I am carrying that in my pocket and in my heart. Thank you for this post, for your activism, for showing us your heart.

  3. Mary Moon

    I just love all of this.

  4. Karim

    Beautiful post, Neil. I will be marching in Port Orford and will be thinking of you, my daughters, and friends marching in other cities. In solidarity for human rights, goodness, and peace.

  5. magpiemusing

    somewhere i may still have a vintage button that says “clean up big muddy”. march on, and perhaps our paths will cross there!

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