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On a cold, dark, rainy night, two dozen men and women gathered outside San Quentin State Prison’s East Gate. They weren’t there to protest an execution, or visit a relative. It was Christmas Eve and they had come to sing.
It wasn’t pretty. It’d been raining a freezing drizzle all day and now, as it turned dark, the men and women wrapped in overcoats and wearing galoshes began the long walk toward the cell blocks. They held printed sheets of music, the words to familiar Christmas Carols hard to read in the darkness.
Then, one voice began. Then another. They sang to the men in North Block, raising their voices loud enough for the men on death row to hear them on the top floor. They sang with the prisoners allowed to leave their cells, and they sang for those who stood along the rows of tiers and watched. Together, they sounded like a chorus.
Merry Christmas, everyone!