Why We March
Veterans For Peace
Today, I am participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration march with the Seattle Chapter of Veterans For Peace. Next Saturday I will be Washington DC to participate in the Women’s March. I have participated in many actions in solidarity with my sisters and women elders. The events that stand out for me are the 2001 “Zap Action for Women’s Lives in DC,” which brought out about 30,000 people, the April 2004 March for Women’s Lives which drew over a million people to DC and a small but very vibrant gathering in Trenton NJ called United Against the War on Women where I had the honor to talk about the tragic subject of how shooting wars destroy women’s lives.
If one believes in the message of equality and justice preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., you must also support the struggle for Women’s rights. When Dr. King called for people to be judged by the content of their character, he did not mean only in juxtaposition to the color of skin. No, that would make the argument weak and variable. He was calling for recognition of each person’s humanity and for each of us to be measured by who we are as an individual, not by our “race,” gender, sex, nationality and a whole host of variables that make up the incredible mosaic of the human family. One cannot be a true advocate of human rights if the you do not stand up for the struggle of women’s rights.
This truth was clear to many advocates for the rights of women and Black people more than a century ago. It was possibly made most clear by slavery abolitionist and women’s rights activists Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery, she faced the dual oppressive burden of racism and sexism; the same circumstance Black women find themselves in today. In 1851, Truth attended the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron where she delivered what is now known as the “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, demanding equal rights for women and Black people. The actual content of the speech and whether she really said, “Ain’t I a woman?” is contested, but there is no doubt that her words had a huge impact on people’s thinking and set down the understanding that one cannot fully work for the rights of women or Black people separately. They are inextricably intertwined and Truth was an in the flesh example and advocate of that truth. If she asked the question or not, the truth in the obvious answer – yes, to the question is why the legend or truth of it endures. Of course, Truth went on to carry that message to the public the rest of her life speaking before hundreds of gatherings. She had a profound impact on our society.
Unfortunately, today we have national leaders who want us to hate people both at home and abroad. They are leading us down a path of internal domestic division and more international conflict. They are attempting to normalize bigotry, racism, religious intolerance and misogyny under the rubric of ending political correctness and taking back America. As we celebrate the life of Dr. King, one of our nation’s greatest citizens, we must pledge to follow his lead and of those upon which shoulders he stood. For without people like Truth there would be no King. Both called on us to stand together, recognize the rights of all people and demand protection of those rights. We must believe peace is possible both at home and abroad and we must strategize, resist and build together to make it so. Today is a good place to begin to uncover those connections and take the message of unity, peace and justice with you as you march in solidarity in Washington or the local Women’s’ March near you.
Peace Is Possible,
handout at your local event, please include that in your response.