Elijah Played the Violin

from Say Their Names by David Rovics

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Young Elijah McClain was lynched by local police on the streets of Aurora, Colorado one night, just down the road from Columbine. That was in 2019, but his entirely unprovoked murder has been getting more attention since the uprising of 2020.

lyrics

Elijah Played the Violin

His family moved from Denver to Aurora
Mama thought they'd be safer out there
Away from all the hubbub of the city
Closer to the mountains and fresh air
Some kids are into fancy cars and football
Or getting lots of tattoos on their shin
But Elijah played the violin

Some kids are into hamburgers and hot dogs
Other kids just do things their own way
Elijah was a vegetarian
And on his lunch breaks he would go and play
Music for the animals at the shelter
The staff would welcome their young comrade with a grin
Elijah played the violin

As a young man Elijah moved in with his cousin
He became a massage therapist
He had a kind and open hand
While others only knew the fist
Such as the men in blue who were called one night
To assault their unknown kin
Elijah played the violin

They slammed him into the wall, they threw him to the ground
Although he made no effort to fight back
They choked him til he vomited, and then they did it more
No body cams recorded the attack
Elijah said he couldn't breathe, he was begging for his life
So they shot him full of ketamine
Elijah played the violin

He went into cardiac arrest – soon after, he was dead
And he had not committed one offense
Aside from being Black in these dis-United States
And trying to exist in the preset tense
Nothing happened to the cops, they were just following procedures
Killing people for the color of their skin
Elijah played the violin

credits

from Say Their Names, released October 3, 2020

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC

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