Yesterday, I had the privilege of marching with an estimated 12,000 women and men at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. As a volunteer working the event, I spoke to over 100 men and women who came to show solidarity for not only women’s rights, but the overarching goal of social justice and civil rights. I spoke with Native American women, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, African Americans. I spoke with those from the disability, LGBT, Muslim American communities and Christians, all who felt called to speak out for those marginalized in our society. I spoke with grandmothers, mothers and daughters. And, I spoke with many husbands and fathers who were there to support the women in their lives.
As you know, the Women’s March took place not only in Washington D.C., but in cities across the United States and even countries around the world. It was an historic day that lifted my weary and heavy heart.
One day is not enough. It is just the beginning. Or rather, it is the beginning of the next chapter in the ongoing fight for equality in this nation, and around the world. A fight that began before my birth and most likely will continue for my children and grandchildren.
Earlier this week, I sat in on a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. The dynamic speaker and journalist, Jeff Johnson, reminded the audience that even if the outcome of the election had been different, we would still have to work and advocate for civil rights. It may have been a different fight, with different rules and players, but still imperative work to be done from which there is no rest. Johnson also spoke eloquently about the power of peaceful protest and how the Civil Rights Movement was the first movement of its kind to make the impact that it did without resorting to a revolution. That is due to the power of strength in numbers and the character of its leaders. Indeed, yesterday’s march organizers and participants are indebted to those who have marched before us, from the Suffragette movement to Selma. We are the children of that legacy.
For me, Johnson’s most profound message was to create an “eco-system of work v. an echo-chamber of rhetoric.” These past months many, including myself, have complained and criticized. However, if we are just talking and not doing, then we aren’t contributing to a solution.
I confess, prior to this presidential campaign and election I wore rose colored glasses of privilege. While progressive, I thought that because we finally had an African American First Family, that we were somehow moving past our painful history. I complained some, alright a lot, but I wasn’t doing. What I thought couldn’t happen in 2016 did. And now my rose colored glasses are tinted orange.
I will commit. Commit to difficult but necessary, moral and righteous work. I am starting in my local community where I can have the greatest impact. For my daughter, my son and my neighbor. For my faith that compels me. Because I am descended from immigrants who fled persecution in their native land, as well as Patriots who knew freedom isn’t free.
If genealogy has taught me anything is that somewhere up the family tree we are all connected. People I’ve known from various places and areas of my life have turned out to be distant cousins. Even possibly our 44th President & First Lady (gotta follow up on that)! However we came to be connected, I will look at people not as strangers, but as family. And family should stick together.
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