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Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on May Day 'Guitarmy' and Occupy's 'Valley Forge'

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For Tom Morello, the activist and guitarist best known for his work with Rage Against the Machine, May Day was a busy day. First there was a "battalion" of guitarists to lead through the streets of New York, and then an award to receive from Harry Belafonte, the legendary performer and activist who put his career on the line in the 1960s, when he joined with Martin Luther King to march for civil rights.

After taking part in a day of protest actions that flooded the streets of Manhattan with thousands of people (reported here), Morello took the stage at Manhattan's TimesCenter to accept an award for public service bestowed by the officers of the Sidney Hillman Foundation at its annual Hillman Prizes awards ceremony for outstanding journalism. (This year's winners include Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, and Seth Frees Wessler of Colorlines.com, whose content is frequently featured at AlterNet.)

After telling the TimesCenter audience that his 88-year-old mother was "freaking out" (in a good way) to learn that none other than Belafonte -- a previous recipient of the same award -- would bestow the honor on her son, Morello confided that he actually wasn't sure he would make it to the ceremony.

"There was a moment today when I was marching in the streets with the Occupy Wall Street "guitarmy," he said. "I was a commandante  But there was a minute when the tear gas was flying." Indeed, he was still dressed in his commandante get-up, which consisted of an olive-green military-style shirt, worn collar unbuttoned over a black tee. The look was finished off with black jeans and a black cap with a red bill.

Later, at a press availability with a small group of bloggers, I asked Morello to describe the guitarmy concept.


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