Michael Bellmont, a folk musician from Longmont, led attendees in song at a press conference introducing Thornton Democratic Rep. Joe Salazar’s Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act, a states’ rights pro-immigrant and refugee bill.
Bellmont felt an obligation to be there, he told The Colorado Statesman. He fears a “return to those dark days” when ethnic minorities in the United States were targeted for abuse by the government.
“I am a white Anglo ashamed of the part of my collective heritage that has denigrated and oppressed minorities, immigrants, and people of color, and certain religious groups in the past and want to do my part to redeem that history and oppose the contemptible return to those dark days reflected by the current administration,” he wrote in an email.
Inspired, Bellmont composed a song he called “Immigrant,” which he sang in support of the bill at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday evening.
Bellmont said he hoped Americans willing to take action “might revive the core tenets of our Constitution that protects the rights of all, regardless of such things as race, religion, gender, and immigrant status.”
His committee performance, a surprise addition to the proceedings, started and ended in a flash. Bellmont sent the lyrics for review:
I fought the British Crown, I gave my good green Irish blood
When liberty for all was just a fragile virgin bud;
I drove the spikes in hard steel rails with calloused Asian hand
That moved your goods and families across this mighty land.
And I stood tall because this country sheltered me
And I gave my all to the land they call the free;
But now you want to close the door, uproot the fam’ly tree
Had we started out that way, pushed the foreigner away, tell me where would we now be today?
I gave you science you then used to win the Great War II,
Discovered many medicines that saved more than a few.
I gladly do the work that you are not inclined to do
And I obey the laws and pay my tax when it comes due.
And I stand tall because this country shelters me
And I give my all to this bastion of the free;
So if you choose to slam the door, uproot the fam’ly tree
Since we started out the same, each from immigrants we came …. You will close the door on both you and me.
For our greatness comes from great diversity.