Paintings & Works on Paper

Don’t Let It Happen Here, Don’t Let It Happen Here.

Digital image, mounted to wood base
10 in x 10 in x 1.5 in

In 1965, composer, bassist, bandleader and American musician Charles Mingus wrote a song based loosely upon Martin Niemoller’s 1930s poem “First They Came.”

Don’t Let It Happen Here
Charles Mingus

One day they came and they took the communists,
And I said nothing because I was not a communist.

Then one day they came and they took the people of the Jewish faith,
And I said nothing because I was had no faith left.

One day they came and they took the unionists,
And I said nothing because I was not a unionist.

One day they burned down the Catholic churches.
And I said nothing because I was born a Protestant.

Then one day they came and they took me.
And I could say nothing because I was guilty as they were,

For not speaking out and saying that all men have a right to freedom.

The poem and song refer to Nazi concentration camps, but the images in this digital collage are of the Japanese internment camps erected by the U.S. government in the 1940s, contemporaneous to those in Europe, these were the sites of family separations, human rights abuses and home-grown twentieth century American fascism and genocide.

Below these is a photograph of the twenty-first century edition.