This is what democracy looks like…

by ZontaDoris

On Saturday, January 21, I participated in the Women’s March for Social Justice in St. Petersburg, FL. More than 20,000 came to walk a one-mile route to “get involved in social justice issues at a critical time.” (Amy Weintraub quoted in “Protest is largest in city’s history,” by Tracey McManus, Tampa Bay Times)

Yes, we did!  The shorthand reference–Women’s March–reduces, in some minds, the breadth of participation to women and their reproductive health rights. However, the range of participants and issues crossed genders, races, nationalities, and ages, and went well  beyond reproductive health access and personal decision-making for women. The Unity principles are listed here.

One of the four chairs of the Women’s March on Washington, Linda Sarsour (executive director of the Arab American Association of New York), explained in an interview with Tessa Stone at Rolling Stone that

the message the marchers want to send is that “from climate justice to racial justice to immigrant rights, reproductive rights, Native rights, we are united. We are committing to work together.”

“We think that that hasn’t happened in a very clear way in a long time – bringing all the movements together and … saying, ‘We are watching you. We are ready. We are fired up. And we’re ready to fight back and protect our communities,'” she says.

The signs waved in St. Pete affirmed my concerns regarding the uncertain future of public education and policy informed by science, environmental protection, immigration, access to health care, criminal and civil justice.

It’s the right time for advocates to come together to fight for the protections we have achieved as well as the many we have yet to influence and win.

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Since Saturday, I have talked with women who participated in St. Pete with me, and in Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York. We have exulted in the camaraderie of the marches noting that even self-proclaimed nasty women have fun and make opponents smile as we deliver our expectations and hopes to policy makers. We must also draft our children and grandchildren to keep striving for the best we can be as individuals, families, communities, and as a country because the journey for human rights will not end.

Let’s keep talking to understand each other’s point of view and use our unity of purpose–where it does exist–to make the world better. The Women’s March offers 10 actions to take within the next 100 days.

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Photos by Doris Reeves-Lipscomb
This blog post expresses my views and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb