7/4/99 We got up early and were on the road shortly after 8am. It was an uneventful trip, we arrived at Layfette Park shortly before 1pm. The temperature was 98 and rising, the shaded areas were filling with people. Things were just getting under way John Pylka organizer of the Layfette Park portion of the planned events, greeted me then took the stage. He began by telling the story of how a Viet Nam protest, turned into the first smoke in some thirty years past. It was July 4th 1969 and a massive protest against the war had been planned. The first protest took place at the Washington Monument, visible behind the stage. It was a hot July day much like today, the crowd took refuge in the shade of the monument. People began to arrive by 8am, soon the shaded area was near full. Many factions separated into groups at various spots in the shade. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the shadow of the monument got smaller and smaller. The crowd moved closer and closer together until they were but one group huddled up against the monument. As quarters became very close there was a spontaneous lighting of marijuana occurring. People shared, cared and before anyone realized it, the annual smoke out had been born and a war had been stopped. Since that date the peaceful tribes have met at one place or another in D.C. on July 4th to celebrate freedom and the friendly herb. By the time John finished the story we numbered a couple thousand. I saw my many friends a hug from Elvy and a hand shake from my buddy Rob Robinson, we talked about what had happened at the Summer Solstice Hemp Happening and The Seventh Annual Hempsplash. I saw my friend Kurt the marijuana leaf hat vendor.
As the afternoon continued we heard from such people as:
Chris Conrad "Hemp Author"
Mikki Norris "Author of Shattered Lives"
Jeff Jones "Oakland CBC"
Elvy Musikka "Medical Marijuana Patient" A patients view
Rob Robinson "N.Y. State C.A.N." Talked about the movement
Dana Beal Talked about nazi conspiracies and melatonin
Jean Marlow "N.C. Medical Marijuana
Rob Lawernce "Prohibition Times"
Janice Pressler "Mid Atlantic Activist Coalition." Spoke on Libertarian Family values
Diane Fornbacher "Freedom Fighter of the month Hightimes Jan 99"
On how her family was proud of her activism and read her "Marijuana Poetry"
Faith "DC Mayoral Candidate 2002 " Sang and Danced for the crowd
and a dozen others got to say their piece..
I was scheduled to start, but told John I was waiting for someone who was going to help me with my presentation. By 2pm she was still not there, and I told John I would, go on with out her. The march was scheduled for 3pm and most of the speakers had run longer than the 15 minutes allotted. I had missed my chance at 3pm the march began and we fell in line.
We marched to the concert grounds some 8 or ten blocks away. By the time we arrived the crowd was a good 5000 strong. I spoke to Katie, who was in charge of speakers for the big stage. She said no problem getting me on, could I do a 15-20 minute spot? I said I would love to do a 15-20 minute spot. I was scheduled to follow Dana Beal and Joe Hart, tough acts to follow. I found my friend and told her what I wanted to do. Speech in hand I reported to the stage at my scheduled time Dana was still speaking. Joe hart then took the stage. Katie said they were running late and asked if I could cut back to five minutes. I said sure and tried not to hid my disappointment. I read through my speech trying to see how I could cut 2/3's to 3/4s of it out. I took the stage as Joe left the stage manager told me I had three minutes. Three minutes? I thought to myself what the hell can I say in three minutes? I remembered when my friend and fellow activist Marvin Marvin had challenged me to make a 30 second speech. I thought that if I pulled that off I could do this too, if I talked really fast. My Speech I did go long about 4 1/2 minutes I told the crowd they could read the real speech at my web site. After my big speech and announcement, that Kay Lee would be running with me as VP candidate. I went over and spent a couple hours talking to Kay Lee about our new partnership. A Hightimes reporter interviewed us and then Florida activist Kay Lee interviewed me on camera as a way to fill her on my / our plans. We both agreed it was going to be an interesting year. After the next set of speakers, which included both Chris Conrad and my friend and fellow activist Rob Robinson, Sehlis and I headed out as I had to work at midnight.