I’ve been asked by family and others just what the fuss was all about on January 21st when the Women’s March was held. The election is over, they said. Why are you still making a fuss?
It is more than the election debacle that we were marching about, although the actions in the first week of the new presidency show that our fears were prescient.
We marched on Saturday because that is how change comes. Throughout history, protests, social activism and resistance are how gains were made. As Frederick Douglass said in a speech at Canandaigua, New York on August 3, 1857:
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
That is so true. For example:
- Miners (1912) and seamstresses (1911) marched to get better wages, safer workplaces, fewer hours and better benefits for all employees.
- On March 3, 1913, women marched to get the right to vote that many of us exercised in November.
- In 1932, WWI veterans marched for early payment of their bonuses for overseas deployment. While it took an act of Congress to finally get their payments, the soldier’s protest led to the GI Bill.
- August 28, 1963, African-Americans marched to demand political and civil rights denied to them by law and tradition.
- On November 15, 1969, students marched end the Vietnam War.
- Women marched on August 26, 1970 for equal opportunity in the workplace, as well as to secure credit and property in their own name.
- LGBTQ people marched on October 14, 1979 to repeal discriminatory laws and policies. This was followed by another LGBTQ rights march on October 11, 1987 to demand increased AIDS research and funding and still another on April 25, 1993 to demand legislation to protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ community and to end discrimination in the military and federal government.
- Women marched in April 9, 1989 to fight for reproductive choice and again in April 25, 2004 to protect women’s lives and reproductive freedom.
- Those of us to whom black lives matter have been marching for the past couple of years across the nation to protest extra-judicial killings by police and injustices in the legal system.
I went to Washington, DC and took part in the marches in 1989, 1993 and 2004. On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I was in New Orleans and I marched with 3 million others across the world for equal rights, reproductive choice and an end to violence against women.
If you weren’t able to march, we marched for you. If you’re actively anti-feminist, we marched for you. Even if you don’t think that any of the issues I’ve listed apply to you, we still marched for your privileged self.
We live in a world created by the actions of activists who fought for generations for your right to piss on our parade. And you can piss and moan all you want but know that millions across the nation are engaged and mobilized. We intend to actively resist the encroachment of fascism and the erosion of our hard earned rights.
If you’re with us in the fight, some of the ways you can join the effort include:
Check out the Indivisible Guide. Written by former Congressional legislative aides, it is a distillation of what they learned from being on the receiving end of right-wing extremist activism. The guide is free, easy to read, and extremely practical about ways to effectively influence your elected representatives.
The organizers of the Women’s March have come up with 10 Actions 100 Days. Their website has simple but effective actions to constructively engage with your elected officials.
There are many organizations working to counter anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-POC, anti-Muslim, anti-woman and other regressive political efforts. Two I’m personally active with are the Independent Women’s Organization (a New Orleans based Democratic women’s organization) and the Forum for Equality (a statewide LGBTQ organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination here in Louisiana). Please support them, if you can.
Hopefully, I’ll see you in the hall of government or in the streets.