Memorial celebration for Marie Harrison will be held at noon on Saturday, May 18, at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, 825 Newhall at Third Street and Jerrold in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco
by Carol Harvey
This is goodbye, but only a temporary one.
I’m not the only person who needed to be with you in your
chosen spiritual place to say “Au revoir,” “Until we meet again.”
But I needed to tell you that I wanted to be at St. John’s
Church with your family, friends and colleagues to acknowledge that we will
always be engaged together in this fight to which you had totally committed
You’re not going to be around. But you still need to know –
or at least I need to confirm that I let you know – that, like you, we will
continue fighting until we draw our “last breath.”
As you have spoken for us these past decades, you’ve been an
especially effective, strong, patient and articulate voice confronting forces
that do not respect human rights or human life. You’ve told these opportunists
firmly and politely that every human being on earth has the right to live and
raise their children and see their grandchildren thrive in pollution-free
places and to breathe clean air without toxins – heavy metals, radiation,
chemicals and asbestos.
We are reasonably certain that your exposure to these
substances riding on particulate matter in the air you breathed at Bayview Hunters
Point is what took your life. You put actions behind your words, chaining
yourself to places, proclaiming, “We will not be moved.”
This made you the perfect spokesperson.
You and I first met in 1999 after I had newly arrived in San
Francisco. As dumb luck would have it, I took your political journalism class
at Media Alliance. It was an eye-opener. You were especially insightful as you filled
us in on Willie Brown and his special method of wielding power in California
and San Francisco.
You introduced me to Greenaction, Bradley Angel and your work.
You and I wrote several articles together about
environmental injustice at Hunters Point – the rigging of air monitors to
conceal the amount of dust thrown off during the “clean-up” of the former Naval
Over the years, we ran into each other. Once outside 850
Bryant you showed me photos of young women living in Bayview Hunters Point with
clumps of hair missing from their heads.
As I watched the destruction of the environment, I committed
to writing about environmental justice, not in small part inspired by you and
your work. In 2014, as an investigative reporter, I took on environmental
injustice at Treasure Island, Hunters Point’s siamese twin.
Low income and people of color have been forced to live in both
San Francisco neighborhoods without first being told that the Navy polluted the
air, soil and water with radiological and chemical poisons left over from its
global military aggressions.
In 2016, when Greenaction protested the predatory builder,
Lennar, you spoke on my video camera about both Hunters Point and Treasure
At an April 4, 2016, Greenaction protest in front of Lennar Corp.’s Mission Street sales office, Marie Harrison says, “We want the world to know we are definitely serious. We need the EPA to step up” and monitor the poisoning of people at Hunters Point and on Treasure Island. “Hiding behind rules and regulations don’t play in our book anymore.”
Last October 2018, when you took Greenaction’s toxic tour through Treasure Island, I shot video as you sat in the seat next to me with oxygen prongs in your nose. I didn’t know then, of course, that this would be one of your final acts as you spoke on camera about yet another abuse of civil and human environmental rights.
This is my small personal note. I join with so many others in honoring on the public record the power of your voice in speaking truth. I wanted to confirm in church that you and I both know that this journey is not only a secular one. It is a spiritual one.
I want to give you the respect and praise you so richly
deserve for your tireless work – to say with everyone gathered here that we
join you in continuing this fight until our very last breath.