FBB joins in historic Women’s Marches
27 Jan 2017
On January 21, 2017, millions of women and men marched across the United States and the world in an inspiring act of solidarity. In the words of the march organizers on their Facebook page, "In the spirit of democracy and in honor of the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women's March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us."
"We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. HEAR OUR VOICE."
This call-to-action spoke to many of our Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) staff members and volunteers, as it aligns so closely to the tenets of humanism. Communications Manager Kate Simonson felt this call so strongly, she drove from Iowa to D.C. through snow, ice and rain with her teenage daughter to participate in this historic event. According to Kate, "It was important to me to join with others to say that we as a country need to stand up for one another and that my kids see that the fact that I am disabled wouldn't stop me from fighting for what I believe in whether it was at home or across the country."
Marketing Director Julia Rigler said her attendance at the march in Ft. Worth, TX had a big impact on her, "It's very isolating being a liberal humanist woman in red state Texas, but the march made me feel like I wasn't alone, and there are others in my area that want to work toward a better country for all of us. I left feeling energized and optimistic for the first time in months."
Staff and volunteers of FBB attended marches in Washington, D.C.; Houston and Ft. Worth, TX; Pittsburgh, PA; Boston, MA; Little Rock, AR; Chicago, IL; and Accra, Ghana. For many staff members, the marches boosted spirits through just being near other people who felt the same way. FBB's website whiz Jennifer Brown marched in Boston and was thrilled by the turnout, "So many people! It felt really good." Stephannie Baker, FBB's Communications Assistant, is from an area less likely to see such a large turnout, Arkansas. "I marched in Little Rock, Arkansas. The crowd estimate was about 4,000. There was also a little march in my town, Bentonville, which had about 500 folks. I was proud of these twinkling blue stars in red, red Arkansas."
For some attendees, the march has made them more active. Administrative Manager Kara Long went to the Houston march a little reluctantly, "A friend dragged me to the march," she said. "It was a galvanizing experience. I have spent this week calling my representatives."
While the march was a good first step, FBB recognizes that there are still issues that need to be addressed. Development Director Emma Renfrew summed it up well, "I finally felt like all our voices really could make a difference if we keep up this momentum, although I still worry that white voices are doing too much speaking and not enough listening."
We need to make sure that all voices are heard, especially those of women of color, immigrants, members of the transgender community, and the Native tribes. We need to make sure that we support marches and protests that are not primarily made up of white women and those with privilege. FBB will continue to fight for social justice and to support a diverse slate of beneficiaries in our Humanist Grants program including past beneficiaries like the Transgender Law Center, the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation, the Lakota Language Initiative of the Thunder Valley CDC, and the Equal Justice Initiative, just to name a few. We will also continue to lift up women in Ghana through our Humanist Action: Ghana partnership with Songtaba working to restore dignity to women who have been accused of witchcraft and banished to "witch camps."
To those of you who marched on Saturday, thank you. Thank you for speaking up, and for joining us in working together to stand up and tell the world, women's rights are human rights.