Let Our Freedoms Ring

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. On Saturday, January 21 I was able to go home again. Not exactly home but back to my youth. Mrs. Making-Sentences and I gathered up two dear friends and attended the Women’s March in Denver, Colorado.  

As we approached the downtown grid of streets, chants could be heard and soon the masses of marchers out for a Saturday stroll, could be seen as a continuous stream of color–a lot of it pink–a lot of the pink in the shape of knitted, cat-eared hats.

Denver, the old cow town (my daughter’s accurate description), turned out 110,000, mostly women, but with a full compliment of men and children joining in supporting each other.  

The four of us joined in and marveled at the scene. The sun was out, the air brisk, and the faces were all smiling. I looked up and asked a cute, five-year-old girl, riding on her father’s shoulders, if she were having a good time. Her face erupted in a huge smile and gushed, “This is fun!”  

I’m a dusty relic from the civil rights movement. My 1960’s protests were often in groups of 10 to 40. Sometimes we were in the midst of maybe a few hundred. I’ve never been in a march of this magnitude. Luckily, the feeling was the same, and I was sent 50 years back in time.  

What lifted me were the sights and sounds shedding light on tons of issues. There was a passion being expressed about concerns far beyond those specific to women. There was worry about the future of the earth (Duh! It’s green Colorado), the future of public schools, voting rights, healthcare, gun control, and on and on. If you’ve read about an issue in the last years, there was a poster held high or chant ringing out advertising support. 

As we marched I looked into individual faces and I saw sincerity in their eyes that mirrored 1965. When I focused on a single voice I heard the passion from over fifty years ago. The spirit of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was strong. I’d have been disappointed if it were any different.  

Also heartening was the respect and kindness shown. Denver was free of violence; no arrests, no injuries, no damage. This was the norm around the world. The march was a clinic on peaceful demonstration that was replicated in over 200 cities in every state in the United States and around the world. There were four million of us! 

Commentators are speculating about whether this was a protest against our new president or a positive message about how we want the world to look.

Overwhelmingly, the message was positive. The theme was anti-Trump, but the mood was unifying, upbeat, and forward.

There is also pundit positing whether or not civilian voices can make a difference. I’m here to tell you that they can. It doesn’t happen in one day of rallies, it takes time and sacrifice. But, policy, and outdated laws can be changed by protest. So can recent gains in fostering human equality be protected and furthered. We’ll have to wait and see, but if this passion and focus can be sustained, national influence is imminent. 

The Vietnam War would have wound down eventually, but it was summarily protested out of existence. No final shot can be determined. It just withered away because Americans went to the streets and demanded that it end.  

A sitting American president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was protested out of office. His reelection in 1968 would not have been the landslide he enjoyed in 1964, but a November victory was likely. Johnson made the decision not to even run because citizen protests became overwhelming. 

And, the blue ribbon goes to the massive, nonviolent, 11-year pressure put on legislators to end the 100 years of Jim Crow laws that evolved after the end of Reconstruction in the wake of the American Civil war. 

In 1954 the Supreme Court found in favor of a little girl in Topeka, Kansas who wanted to attend her local elementary school. That decision changed law that restricted blacks and whites from going to school together. Granted, the problem isn’t solved 63 years later, but the law is clear. 

A yearlong 1955 Montgomery, Alabama citizens’ bus boycott ended with a court decision that outlawed segregation on public transportation. 

A march on Washington D.C. in 1963, one of the few to rival this Women’s March in numbers, turned out nearly half a million protesters to hear Dr. King talk about having a dream. The movement continued into 1964 and 1965 when civil rights and voting rights legislation was finally put in place to legalize personal equality and universal voting rights for every citizen. Again, the intent is yet to be fully realized, but there is law on our side that was born from citizen activism. 

Still questioning why the march took place, or why men and children joined a “Women’s March?” The answer is community. When one automatically considers “our” instead of “my” freedoms and rights, joining the march makes complete sense.  

We’re all in this together.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Wallace B. Wilson says:

    Beautiful. So glad you all came together to Make America Great Again. With a new president and a new focus on America, old 60’s relics like you and your friends can really effect change and Make America Great, Safe, and Prosperous again. Thanks for your contribution.

  2. Teri Nehrenz says:

    With all due respect Terry, the protests you listed that made a difference were for 1 cause, not a multitude of causes that muddied the waters and contridicted one another. You can not simultaneously protest for Woman’s abortion rights and human rights at the same time. The Supreme court ruling of Roe vs. Wade is antiquated at best and as a part of the “Human Rights” that were fought for, Men should have some say in the abortion of their child. So in the women protesting for upholding that decision and claiming 100% “MY body, MY choice” They are fighthing for woman’s right, not a human right and it’s a double standard…muddies the waters. If you want to protest for something, stick to that…then you will make a difference. Half the world right now thinks that the 4 million women, men and children who marched are a bunch of hysterics and made ridiculous spectacles of themselves wearing vagina costumes and “pussy hats” which are pretty degrading to us women who believe we are much more than just a bunch of vaginas. Talk about sending mixed messages.

  3. Terry Donnelly says:

    With all due respect returned, the tone of the march was anything but hysterics. It was exactly as I describe above. There were 110,000 people in the march I attended and I did not see one person dressed in a vagina costume. Lots of people wore the pink knitted pussy hats and they were really quite charming. I can think of no more calm, restrained way to exercise First Amendment rights and make fun of the awful misogyny of our president’s taped words and attitude. It was not done in anger or hysteria as you suggest. The hats were worn as a joke that was squarely on him. As I stated there were no arrests, no violence, no destruction of property, and that goes beyond Denver to all 4,000,000 marchers. This was a march for a variety of issues. The signs covered much of what most liberals stand for far beyond what was the original intent. The march became inclusive along the way and anyone who was willing to march was welcome. There were even a few pro-Trump signs and groups. No one seemed to mind. I suppose it would be nice to be able to find equality with just one statement–I’m for human rights. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened that way. We’ve always had to be specific with individual protests. After the Civil War, blacks could vote and hold office, many did. Then starting in 1776 Jim Crow took those rights away. Then we had to protest for women’s suffrage because they were singled out and not allowed full human rights. Then we finally got equal civil rights, but had to go back for voting rights the next year, and then work stopping war that steps on all kinds of rights. If we aren’t specific, those who would separate us will find a way to create a second class set of citizens. Even after the 19th Amendment we had to go back to get women the right to sign checks and have a bank account, get a loan. We still haven’t gotten women equal pay. Do you really think advocating for “human rights” will ever bring about eliminating the pay gap without forcing that particular issue? The one size fits all just doesn’t seem to work. Women do get to make decisions about their own bodies. I agree that abortion is a family decision, but this wasn’t just about abortion. It was about access to prenatal care, health screening, birth control, counseling. It translates easily into access to healthcare for everyone, but women have been singled out in the past and there is no reason to believe that health insurance companies won’t try to charge more, offer less, or make special cases out of women’s health issues when the bottom line of profit could be increased by making women’s concerns a special category. Just as a final statement–I don’t believe one person in that march was pro-abortion–I’ve never met a pro-abortion advocate. They were pro-choice. No one takes abortion lightly and beyond health concerns, no one would suggest abortion to another person. It is a personal choice that should be decided by the principle and anyone that loves her. And, that choice needs to be there for them. Roe v. Wade allows that and even though it is over 40 years old the law is still needed and appropriate for today.

    • Teri Nehrenz says:

      I’m glad you saw things the rose colored way you did but the march was anything but all inclusive and welcoming to everybody because they banned the Pro-Lifers from joining.
      There are lists of reasons why women marched that range from 8 reasons to 31 reasons…nobody really knows for sure what they were fighting for or how many issues the waters were so muddied.

      The vagina costumes were worn, albeit not in Colorado but other parts of the country, there are too many pictures and videos to deny that they were a huge part of other women’s couture that day.

      And in fighting for “Human Rights”,”https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/” aren’t men and unborn children human and isn’t having that baby a family right? Yet the women fight for the right to abort other women, half of those babies would have been female. Double standard #1. since 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, there’s been “well over” 54 million abortions. The Guttmacher Institute has tracked roughly 49.3 million abortions through 2008. If the fight had been for “Human Rights” as you say, abortion wouldn’t be considered completely a woman’s choice. And if nobody suggests abortion to another, there wouldn’t be so many unless you feel that all 54 million truly came up with those decisions entirely on their own and yes, people do suggest abortion…my own mother-in-law suggested it to me 31 years ago when I was pregnant with my third child, it happens,and all 54 million abortions between 1973 and now were not for health reasons.
      According to the CDC: Women in their twenties accounted for the majority of abortions in 2013 and throughout the period of analysis. The majority of abortions in 2013 took place early in gestation: 91.6% of abortions were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation; a smaller number of abortions (7.1%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.3%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation. In 2013, 22.2% of all abortions were early medical abortions. The percentage of abortions reported as early medical abortions increased 5% from 2012 to 2013. Source: MMWR.2016;65(12);1–44.

      This information suggests that Women “disposed of the problem” rather than trying to prevent it. And more medical causes were added to increase the reason for insurance companies to pay. That happens too…I spent 17 years in the health care industry. Doesn’t seem to me that Planned Parenthood is making that much of a difference in the preventative world and abortion is still being used in a large percentage as a form of birth control, unless you want to argue the CDC’s numbers.

      And by the way…..Why would you keep fighting for the government to excercise control over someone’s birth control? That’s just asking for the government to take over and create laws like China had until 2015…is that what you want? Women are essentially saying that they can’t control themselves so someone else has to counsel, provide and pay for her sexual activity and irresponsibility essentially giving away her own freedom. That’s hardly strengthening a woman’s position.
      From the page on the march and one of the 8 reasons why: “Reproductive health is part and parcel of women’s whole health and they need access to every component from vaccines to birth control to abortion. Women require 100% – caring for whole health means serving all our mental, physical and reproductive health care needs. Although New York is tied for tenth place nationally for reproductive rights, our state law is antiquated and services are limited.” So you want the government to have more control? Services are not limited, you can get birth control over the counter, there are mental health clinics in abundance and hospitals, doctors and free clinics exist…. what’s the problem?
      They also want the government to provide: “Unpaid caregivers, over 43 million adults in the United States, provide unpaid care to an adult or a child annually. Paid caregivers must cope with low wages, often insecure working conditions and schedules, and the demands of their own families. Child care that is affordable, accessible and high quality is an enormous challenge for most families. NYS can play a bigger role in helping families find and afford better caregiving options.
      WEll, If you don’t like the wages caregivers make, don’t apply for the job. To provide high cost wages, you must charge high cost prices unless you want the government to pay for your childcare…be careful what you ask for. I sure don’t expect the government to pay for my children and I don’t want to pay for anyone else’s. If you can’t afford to have kids and care for them, don’t have kids the government and the entire tax paying population has to pay for.

      Affordable Housing: Because women tend to have higher levels of poverty, the need for safe and affordable housing is becoming ever more crucial. Lack of housing decreases a woman’s health, increases her chance of physical and sexual abuse and is an unstable environment in which to raise children.”
      Again, wanting more handouts from the government and more control over their lives, not exactly strengthening Women’s position. If you can’t afford to provide a safe home for your children don’t have them…it’s not the government’s responsibility to provide everything for you, that is not strength, it’s complete dependency; it’s weakness, it shows nothing but lack of planning and the ability to run your own life.

      “I can think of no more calm, restrained way to exercise First Amendment rights and make fun of the awful misogyny of our president’s taped words and attitude. It was not done in anger or hysteria as you suggest. The hats were worn as a joke that was squarely on him.” Thus MOCKING and speaking out against Trump’s first amendment rights. Double standard #2. but….
      The hats were not meant to be worn as a joke against Trump but in protest for his being elected and they were to show their sorrow for the rapist defending Hillary being defeated. Double standard #3…fighting to show sorrow for the loss of a woman who defends the type of people they’re fighting against. #4 Is the fact that in defending the first amendment, they can’t protest because they didn’t like what he said….It’s the first amendment, it applies to the people running for office too.
      An interview From the mouth of the maker of the hats, “The weather is supposed to be unusually warm in Washington, D.C. this weekend, but over 60,000 women are expected to show up there in knitted “pussy power” hats, anyway.
      Festooned in cat ears and crafted from hot pink yarn, the hats are the creation of Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, friends who wanted to come up with just one more way for women to announce their opposition to Donald Trump’s election.
      Suh, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, said she wanted to turn her despair over Hillary Clinton’s loss into a positive contribution to the then-nascent protest over the inaugural weekend. “Honestly, I would have stripped naked for it if that would have been impactful,” she says. But knowing that temperatures in D.C. tend to be lower than those in L.A., she decided she could make herself a hat—easy, warm, and, most importantly, visible. She knit hers first, but soon realized that if more people participated, “we could all wear them, make a unified statement.”

      To attribute all of “Women’s Power” to their vaginas is deragatory at best….Why not attribute a woman’s strength to their minds, their hearts, their empathy and understanding or our ability to multi-task instead? My power does not come from any female anatomy part, it comes from the parts of me that both genders share…my mind. That would be a human right, “P-Power” suggests just the opposite and surly isn’t the strength I want to be remembered for.

      As far as earnings go…It’s not the entire countries’ responsiblity to fight for the equality in pay at this point, we’ve already got laws governing that clear back to 1963. Take a look at this from the bureau of Labor Statistics: “In her summary of the existing research on the gender earnings gap, Goldin argues that while many of the studies’ explanations have considerable merit, a residual (unexplained) portion of the gap remains. A number of studies have shown, for example, that women tend to have less ability in bargaining and are not as competitive as men; hence, they accept lower earnings than their male counterparts. Other studies have argued that employers have different hiring and promotion standards for women because they are more likely than men to leave the job (or to leave sooner than men, on average).”
      Women need to start taking responsibility for their own positions in life and if they aren’t equal, it’s because they aren’t equal. There’s no shame in that. I can’t compete with most sales people, I’m not aggressive enough in asking people for their money but there are plenty of people who are good at that. I am wonderful with medical knowledge and memorizing things…not many can compete with me on script memorization but there’s no shame for them in that. It’s a system of checks and balances and people excel at what they’re good at. Could it be that the women who are still earning salaries below that of a man are not entirely as qualified and if they are then they don’t negotiate as well? In all actuality there’s only about 12-13% of women who don’t earn as much as their male counterparts. And if someone marched into my office claiming “Pussy Power”, I probably wouldn’t hire that person anyway.
      And in the grand scheme of things, why don’t the women, who feel that they aren’t being treated faily, site the law when asking for a salary? The federal government has already put that provsion into place, it’s up to the individual businesses and the individual woman to fight it out. It does not become the responsibility of the government to check every American’s paycheck to see that it’s happening. It is a very personal matter and should be fought that way. Have you ever wondered why there are some “Protocols” put into place in companies to prevent employees about talking about wages? I’m really thinking this is a company to company problem. Deal with those companies.

      If these woman are educated, skilled and “Powerful” enough to want the position, they’d better be powerful enough to negotiate their own value. If they aren’t, then they don’t deserve to be “Equal” because they aren’t “acting equal.” This is a two way street here. If you think you deserve it, you’d better be able to handle all of it. It doesn’t matter if you have 12 million people marching behind you, if you can’t negotiate your own salary or aren’t happy with the conditions, change them yourself…the other 12 million aren’t going to make you any stronger in your own mind and if they do, then as a man or woman, you are too weak to deserve what you, alone, can’t fight for. Most people man or woman can’t ever be equal to one another for we all have unique tendencies, skills and talents…very hard to measure equality when it comes to people but if everything as far as knowledge,experience, skill and achievements are equal, then it’s up to the individual to fight it out because the law already states that there must be equal compensation for the position regardless of gender.
      Why fight for a law we already have and nobody’s threatening to recind the law so???? Many of these laws they are fighting for are already in place, women need to empower themselves….this march is full of contridiction and it may show solidarity but it also shows that women aren’t ready to take the lead, if they can’t take the laws that are already in place for them to succeed and take control of their own situation. They are asking for the government to make them whole…that’s not the way things work.

      • Teri Nehrenz says:

        Even to answer all the issues about why this women’s march is so wrong get all skewed. It’s like this…There is only a small percentage of companies or employers that don’t offer equal pay and a small percentage of women who don’t get it. So while all these women are protesting for 31 different causes and all in the wrong direction…these companies are continuing to do what they do because they can…everyone is ignoring the source of the issue that still exists and going after the entity that has already put the laws in place to fight the individuals.

        If you want low cost services, they go along with low cost wages unless there is government subsidy. Inviting thousands of illegal immigrants who draw from those resources depletes the resouce that much faster….how, other than raising taxes, do you all propose the government is going to be able to keep splitting the pie?

      • Terry Donnelly says:

        I’m afraid you were misinformed.There were pro-life supporters at the march. They may have been talked about being banned before the march, but that isn’t what ultimately occurred. Trump supporters and pro-life people were there with their signs too.

        Like I wrote above, abortion is not the only issue with women’s rights/human rights. Your comments about minds and hearts is accurate and not disputed. I also agree that abortion is a family decision and apparently your mother-in-law thought so too. But, you made up our own mind about what was best for you. Again, I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion, just pro-chioce. Abortions have dropped in recent years and a lot of that is due to the ACA with its focus on birth control and counseling.

        You claim that the pussy hats are stepping on Mr. Trump’s First Amendment rights, but I don’t see assault included in the First Amendment. The hats may have been originally intended for one purpose, but they ended up being a much more light-hearted statement of protest. Many were the standard design, but others were decorated much like graduates decorate their mortarboards. Using First Amendment rights doesn’t step on someone else’s rights.

        I don’t think the equal wage issue is for company CEO’s, it’s for women working in jobs where it is often difficult to know what peers are being paid. This isn’t strictly a women’s issue either. It applies to all employees, but the facts are that there is a 23¢ hourly wage disparity between women and men in the same jobs. If a law isn’t working, we need to change it. Corporate America will do whatever they can to save money to increase profit. Profit is good, but not at the expense of fairness. In just six years, the CFPB has returned $12 billion to individuals who have been wronged by the banking industry. Now this admin. wants to do away with it. This gives individuals an equal field to fight against huge corps. An individual, male of female, was laughed at when they tried to take on a company alone. With the help of our government, for, by, and of the people, common people who have been taken advantage of get an even chance to be heard. The Lilly Leadbetter law is a start, but there is more to be done.

        Your focus to go it alone is dismissing all the people who want to help. There are a lot of us out here who believe in community and are willing to work to make living together in a society fair. If you want to struggle with daily demands, that is your right, but it isn’t demeaning or a lack to strength to ask for and receive help. If we all started on equal footing, there may be more of an argument in what you say, but there are starting points too far off the norm to catch up without assistance. Sec. Clinton said that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” It sounds like you agree. I do too, but there are just too many issues to fight for them all under one umbrella. I think grouping them is muddying the waters and allows significant issues to take a back seat.

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