Women Hold Up Half the Sky

Patricia Jackson

Women throughout history have led revolutions. On February 28, 1917, women demanding bread for their children marched in the streets of Petrograd, joined by 90,000 men and women on strike. Days later the Czar abdicated, and the Russian revolution arose. During the French Revolution in 1789, a continuing shortage of bread caused women to march from Paris to Versailles, twelve miles in the rain, to confront the King. Later thousands of men marched from Paris joining the women chanting what became the French Revolution’s mantra, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”

“NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE WOMEN

YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK:

YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER;

YOU WILL BE CRUSHED.”

This translation of the original resistance song, ‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’, circled the globe in recognition of the over 20,000 women of all races who marched in Pretoria South Africa, on August 9, 1956, protesting the apartheid pass laws. Supporters of the Boycott of South Africa of the Boycott of South Africa apartheid took up these words here in the U.S.

And on January 21, 2017, 4.5 million of us united around the world. Under leadership by women of color this March was one of the world’s largest demonstrations. In Washington, D.C. Tamika Mallory, co-chair of the march stated. “Today is an act of resistance. I came here to address those of you who say you are of good conscience… We have a chance, brothers and sisters, to get this thing right. We can do it, if women rise up and take this nation back!” Her full statement. Angela Davis: “The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance — resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music. This is just the beginning.” Her full statement.

The Women’s March on Washington started with a Facebook post by a grandmother in Hawaii asking a few dozen friends to join her in a march on D.C. The call was taken up around the globe. Among those millions of marchers around the world − from 600,000 in Washington, D.C. to distant Antarctica — were people in smaller cities and rural areas. We stood as many voices and as one voice to protect all of us.

In my city, Tucson, AZ, a group of planners and 150 volunteers brought together 15,000 of us who vowed to support everyone in our community. Sheli Weis, march planner, co-organizers Marea Jenness, Tim Lennon, with Tucson Solidarity, and Shauna Anderson agreed as Shauna said. “It really is about solidarity, helping us move away from being in a country that’s becoming a place of fear.” Marisol Flores-Aguirre, Director, Women’s Business Center YWCA Southern Arizona offered us a mantra. “It is a new day, sisters and brothers.”

Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson spoke to concerns of immigrant’s safety. “We passed a resolution last month, stating that the City of Tucson will not participate in mass deportations, and reiterating some of the many steps the city has taken to protect immigrants, including supporting the DREAM Act…” He spoke to Trump administration draconian plans for major reductions in funding with programs. Then reminded us. “When women work together, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.”

Other elected officials spoke for unity, Kirsten Engel, Arizona House of Representatives.

Raul Grijalva, Congressman (D-AZ), did not attend the Inauguration out of respect and honor for our democracy. He came to urge us on in what will be hard work ahead: “As a people, we will defend hard won rights and each of us will create a sense that this is a country of decency, compassion and equality.” A Native American woman came to the stage and welcomed us to her land, reminding us that all of Arizona’s 21 tribes need to be included in actions taken. Remember, she said. “We all drink water; we need your help to protect or water, our land, our women.” Stop the Dakota pipeline (DAPL).

Lynn Hourani of the Islamic Center of Tucson, spoke to their support of refugees coming from Syria. Regina Romero, Vice Mayor and Council, Tucson, thanked the indigenous tribes of the area for allowing us to live here on their land and declared. “Today is only the beginning of resistance; we will not give up” Richard Elías, Pima County Supervisor District 5, reaffirmed as an elected official he is sworn to protect public health — “that’s supporting Planned Parenthood, survivors of violence, or sexual assault, and standing together to protect our children who will stand to protect one day.” Christy Schramski, Pima Community College Adult Basic Education, emphasized the intersectionality of everyone’s rights leads to stronger coalitions. Bryan Davis — Executive Director of the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust Center and co-chair of the Southern Arizona Anti- Hate Task Force stood with his daughter calling for us to stand together and to build alliances. Kelly Fryer, CEO YWCA Southern Arizona, reminded us marchers were everywhere. “My wife is in D.C., my daughter in London.” “Are we ready to work together? It will take a political uprising in this country and this state!” More community members spoke to working together in the days ahead.

From January 21 forward, organizations and each of us will stand in solidarity to continue resistance against the Trump administration attacks − Planned Parenthood, Tucson YWCA, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Islamic Center of Tucson, Black Lives Matter, Jewish History Museum, Southern Arizona Hate Crimes Task Force, Veterans for Peace Tucson, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Amity Foundation, Tucson/Southern AZ N.O.W., Planned Parenthood.

Katina Murphy, of our LGBT choir and a decorated National Guard opened our hearts and blessed the children of today singing, “I believe the children are our future…” Marisol Flores-Aguirre sent us off as the day ended. “People who may have come here today as strangers left as family.” The powerful connections from our world-wide, defiant women’s marches will grow stronger. Women all around the globe unite and stand to protect families and our communities. Ending the current global climate crisis and Trump’s reactionary agenda requires a fight back and a redistribution of wealth, and resources. Working together our energy can counter this administration, its exploitation and disrespect of women and Mother Earth, and bring balance to the planet.

Patricia Jackson is a community activist and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project

Tucson photos https://risinguptogether.shutterfly.com/