Protest marches can be misunderstood and underestimated. Marches alone don’t bring about change, but they are a critical part of the mix. The famous 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom' (1963) came first. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 came later.
Persistence is required. And that’s why I’ve gotten involved—specifically in helping to plan the March that will take place this Sunday in Fort Myers, Florida. It will be the third consecutive year a Women’s March has taken place in Southwest Florida, and the first year it will happen in Fort Myers.
Why are local women (and men) marching? The primary purpose is to stand up and speak out about critical issues, including ensuring equality for all women, providing access to healthcare, demanding economic justice, protecting the environment, and ending violence against women.
‘Stand Up and Speak Out” happens when people have had enough and are no longer willing to accept the way things are. And it's why women have marched every year since 2017.
‘Stand Up and Speak Out” happens when people have had enough and are no longer willing to accept the way things are. And it's why women have marched every year since 2017. They’ll march in well over one hundred locations this year, big and small, in places like Washington, DC, New York City, Traverse City, Michigan,m and Montpelier, Vermont.
The marches will take place over this weekend, January 19-20, as a #WomensWave of solidarity and collective resolve.
Women want change. To achieve it, they're doing what women have done for well over a century. Then and now, women organized a movement and kept at it until goals were achieved.
Activists' names are etched in America's history. They include Alice Paul, Anna Howard Shaw, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Smeal, bell hooks, and Winona LaDuke.
Perhaps the best news is that the list is growing, and the list includes everyday people--family members, neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
It’s democracy in action as women (and men) march for a core American value—justice for all.
But make no mistake about something else—no effort like this is not undertaken without issues. If you’ve been reading/watching the news, then you know there has been external criticism and internal strife about the Women’s March movement. Accusations of white exclusivity and anti-Semitic rhetoric, among other issues, have emerged. A number of local groups have severed ties from the national march organization, and some local marches have been cancelled.
It’s not the first time women have had to face challenges like these. The Suffragettes experienced strife, too. Of course, exclusivity has no place in any Progressive effort. Activists must stand up/speak out about internal organizational issues, just as they do about issues facing society. And that’s exactly what they are doing.
I’m one activist who’s proud to be involved. Even more so, I’m blessed to be associated with a group of citizens committed to democratic action.
An earlier version of this piece was published in the January 13 edition of the Fort Myers News-Press.