march on washington 1963

Today is International Women’s Day.

Today also marks the show of solidarity for women’s rights by way of a strike: A Day Without A Woman. Women around the world are refusing to take part in both paid and unpaid labor in the name of justice for all gender-oppressed people of all ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. In doing so, they join the ranks of women who have led protests, strikes, and movements throughout history.

Let’s celebrate a few of those women:

Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912—April 20, 2010)

Originally posted by womenthrive

Dorothy Height, former President of the National Council of Negro Women, was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. She stood near Martin Luther King Jr. during his “I Have a Dream” speech, but did not publicly speak that day. In fact, no woman publicly spoke. “Even on the morning of the march there had been appeals to include a woman speaker,” wrote Height in her memoir. “They were happy to include women in the human family, but there was no question as to who headed the household!“ In 1971, she helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus with other notable feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm.

Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945—July 6, 1992)

Originally posted by dannisue

Marsha P. Johnson spent her entire adult life fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people. She’s credited for being one of the first to fight back in the Stonewall Riots. She started the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with her friend Sylvia Rivera. Together they provided food, shelter, and care to young drag queens, trans women, and homeless children in need in the Lower East Side of NYC. She fought for what was right, and knew how to live life with exuberance and humor. When asked by a judge what what the “P” stood for, she replied “Pay It No Mind.”

Alice Paul (January 11, 1885—July 9, 1977)

Originally posted by taryndraws

Alice Paul was one of the leading forces behind the Nineteenth Amendment, which affirmed and enshrined a woman’s right to vote. She rallied 8,000 people to march in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington—no small task in a world before the internet—with an estimated half million people watching the historic moment from the sidelines.

And some good activist blogs to follow:

  • Emily’s List (@emilys-list) slogan is “ignite change.” They aim to do so by backing pro-choice candidates for US office in key races across the country.
  • Women of Color in Solidarity (@wocinsolidarity) focuses on being a hub for the the WOC experience in the US. Original posts, incredibly informative reblogs…this place is wonderful.
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For Refinery29’s celebration of Black History Month we put together a list of Black men and women you ought to know. Their legacy in civil rights, feminism, and LGBTQ equality lives on today.

  1. Bayard Rustin — A leading Black figure in the civil rights movement and advisor to Martin Luther King, he was the architect of the 1963 March on Washington and was heavily involved in the first Freedom Rides. He was also gay and a registered communist who went to jail for his sexual orientation. Although widely heralded, he was attacked even by fellow activists for his faith in nonviolence, unapologetic queerness, and attention to income equality. President Obama honored Rustin posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
  2. Combaheee River Collective — A seminal Black lesbian feminist group active from 1974-1980. Although officially short lived, its influence has been major. The group is best known for writing the Combaheee River Collective Statement, an important document in promoting the idea that social change must be intersectional — and that Black women’s needs were not being met by mainstream white feminism and therefore must strike out on their own. Members of the collective included Audre Lorde and…Chirlane McCray, now First Lady of New York City and author of the landmark essay “I Am a Lesbian,” published in Essence in 1979.
  3. John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and Peter Norman — The winners of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics 200 Meter Sprint. In one of the proudest and most political moments of sports history, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their leather-gloved fists in the Black Power salute. They wore black socks without shoes to represent black poverty and a scarf and necklace to symbolize “those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”

    We also include in our list Peter Norman, the white Australian silver medalist from that ceremony, to commemorate his solidarity with the two Black athletes. White people are more than indebted to black history, and Norman is an excellent example of a white ally. Although he didn’t perform the black power salute, he publicly supported the duo without regard to personal safety or retribution. Norman was penalized for his alliance with Carlos and Smith and was never again allowed to compete in any Olympics despite repeatedly qualifying. Largely forgotten and barred from major sporting events, he became a gym teacher and worked at a butcher shop. At his funeral in 2006, John Carlos and Tommie Smith were his pallbearers.
  4. The Friendship Nine — This group of nine Black students from Friendship Junior College willingly went to jail without bail in 1961 after staging a sit-in at McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They pioneered the civil rights strategy “Jail, No Bail,” which placed the financial burden for racist incarceration back on the state. They’re appreciated today for their bravery and strategic ingenuity. In 2015 their conviction was finally overturned and prosecutor Kevin Brackett personally apologized to the eight living members of the group.
  5. Barbara Jordan — A lawyer and politician, Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southern Black woman to be elected as a US Senator, and the first Black woman to deliver a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Her keynote address is widely considered the greatest of all time, aided by her charismatic and eloquent public speaking skills. She is also remembered as one of the leaders of the impeachment of Richard Nixon. We chose the above quote to illustrate her unique punchy sense of humor.
  6. Pauli Murray — This civil rights activist, feminist, and poet was a hugely successful lawyer who is also recognized as the first Black female Episcopal priest. Like many figures on this list, Murray was acutely aware of the complex relationship between race and gender, and referred to sexism as “Jane Crow,” comparing midcentury treatment of women to that of African Americans in the South. Although she graduated from Howard University first in her class, she was barred from enrolling as a postgraduate at Harvard because she was a woman. Instead, in 1965 she became the first African American to receive a JSD from Yale Law. Once armed with a law degree she became a formidable force in advancing feminist and civil rights. She is a cofounder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She also identified as having an “inverted sex instinct,” which she used instead of “homosexual” to describe her complicated gender identity and lifelong attraction to women.
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Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Charlton Heston, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr., and Burt Lancaster at the Civil Rights March in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963.   

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The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated May 30, 1922.

1. The first photo shows Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Charlton Heston at the 1963 March on Washington.

2. The second photo shows James Stewart and Frank Capra getting ready to film a scene from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

I’ve been grappling with how to challenge cynicism in a moment that requires all of us to show up differently.

On Saturday, I joined more than a million women in Washington, D.C., to register my opposition to the new regime. Participating in the Women’s March — if you count satellite protests around the country, the largest one-day mobilization in the history of the United States — was both symbolic and challenging.

Like many other black women, I was conflicted about participating. That a group of white women had drawn clear inspiration from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, yet failed to acknowledge the historical precedent, rubbed me the wrong way. Here they go again, I thought, adopting the work of black people while erasing us.

I’d had enough before it even began. 53% of white women who voted in the 2016 presidential election did so for a man who aims to move society backward. Were white women now having buyer’s remorse? Where were all of these white people while our people are being killed in the streets, jobless, homeless, over incarcerated, under educated? Are you committed to freedom for everyone, or just yourselves?

For weeks, I sat on the sidelines. I saw debates on list-serves about whether or not to attend the march, the shade on social media directed at the “white women’s march.” Unconvinced that white women would ever fight for the rights of all of us, many decided to sit the march out.

Yet as time went on and the reality of the incoming Donald Trump administration sank in, something began to gnaw at me. Do I believe that a mass movement is necessary to transform power in this country? Do I believe that this mass movement must be multi-racial and multi-class? Do I believe that to build that mass movement, organizing beyond the choir is necessary? If I believe all of these things, how do we get there and what’s my role in making it happen?

I decided to challenge myself to be a part of something that isn’t perfect, that doesn’t articulate my values the way that I do and still show up, clear in my commitment, open and vulnerable to people who are new in their activism. I can be critical of white women and, at the same time, seek out and join with women, white and of color, who are awakening to the fact that all lives do not, in fact, matter, without compromising my dignity, my safety and radical politics.

In the end, I joined an estimated 1 million people who participated in the Washington, D.C. march and the estimated 3 million who marched around the world. I have participated in hundreds of demonstrations, but this was one of the first times where I didn’t know or know of most of the people there.

Sandwiched between other protesters like a sardine in a can, I spoke with demonstrators in the crowd who said this was their first time participating in a mass mobilization. I saw people for whom this wasn’t their first time at a demonstration, but who thought that the days of protesting for our rights was over. I asked them what brought them there. They said they wanted to stand up for all of us. They realized that they, too, were under attack. They wanted to live in a world where everyone was valued, safe and taken care of. They were in awe of just how many people were there, just like them, to oppose the values of President Donald Trump’s administration. They wanted to do something besides feel hopeless.

That evening, I participated in a town hall meeting that drew more than 700 people and had more than 1,100 on the waiting list. Those gathered were mostly white, though there were also people of color present. About half the room said that the Women’s March was the first time they’d participated in a mass mobilization. They were willing to learn about how change happens and how they could be involved. And that was just the beginning.

Checking my social media feed that evening, I read comment after comment dismissing the march — an experience that was transformative for hundreds of thousands of people. I wondered what would have happened if, instead of inviting people in, I’d told people to fuck off and go home. Would they come back? Did it matter if they didn’t?

Anger has an important place in transforming our political consciousness, and should be valued as such. The white lady with the pink, knitted “pussy” hat that came to the march was angry as hell when her future president talked about grabbing women by the pussy. Though she may have been sitting on the sidelines up until now, she decided that she was going to do something about it. Anger at the way America depends on immigrant labor yet forces undocumented immigrants to live in the shadows may lead them to join the movement. Black Americans mad as hell about the ways that this country strips us of our humanity might join the movement, even though they didn’t before.

I agree with Solange when she says, “I got a lot to be mad about, and I have a right to be mad.” But that anger is not enough. It is insufficient to build or take power. Anger will not change the fact that Republicans have taken control of all three branches of government and control both chambers of the legislature in 32 states. Anger will not stop vigilantes from terrorizing our communities, and anger will not change an economy that deems too many of us as disposable.

More than a moral question, it is a practical one. Can we build a movement of millions with the people who may not grasp our black, queer, feminist, intersectional, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideology but know that we deserve a better life and who are willing to fight for it and win?

If there was ever a time to activate our organizer super powers, this is it. I’m not going to argue that black people or other people of color need to stop holding white people accountable. White people are not going anywhere, but neither are we if we don’t start to think and do differently.

Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to figure out what it means to join a movement. If we demonstrate that to be a part of a movement, you must believe that people cannot change, that transformation is not possible, that it’s more important to be right than to be connected and interdependent, we will not win.

If our movement is not serious about building power, then we are just engaged in a futile exercise of who can be the most radical.

This is a moment for all of us to remember who we were when we stepped into the movement — to remember the organizers who were patient with us, who disagreed with us and yet stayed connected, who smiled knowingly when our self-righteousness consumed us.

I remember who I was before I gave my life to the movement. Someone was patient with me. Someone saw that I had something to contribute. Someone stuck with me. Someone did the work to increase my commitment. Someone taught me how to be accountable. Someone opened my eyes to the root causes of the problems we face. Someone pushed me to call forward my vision for the future. Someone trained me to bring other people who are looking for a movement into one.

No one is safe from the transition this country is undergoing. While many of us have faced hate, ignorance and greed in our daily lives, the period that we have entered is unlike anything that any of us has ever seen before.

We can build a movement in the millions, across difference. We will need to build a movement across divides of class, race, gender, age, documentation, religion and disability. Building a movement requires reaching out beyond the people who agree with you. Simply said, we need each other, and we need leadership and strategy.

We can tell people a hundred times over that because they haven’t been here, they have no right to be here now. But I promise that the only place that will get us is nowhere.

— Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. Our cynicism will not build a movement. Collaboration will.

follow @the-movemnt

Happy 4th of July! Here’s five comics we’re reading while we enjoy some sunshine, BBQ, and fireworks...

AMERICA

At last! Everyone’s favorite no-nonsense powerhouse, America Chavez, gets her own series! Written by critically-acclaimed YA novelist Gabby Rivera (Juliet Takes A Breath) and drawn by all-star artist Joe Quinones (HOWARD THE DUCK), Marvel Comics’ brand new AMERICA series shines a solo spotlight on the high-octane and hard-hitting adventures of the one and only America Chavez!America has always been uncontestably awesome, and as the newly appointed leader of the Ultimates, she’s now officially claimed her place as the preeminent butt-kicker of the Marvel Universe! But while leading a team of heroes and punching out big bads is great and all, it doesn’t really leave much time for self-discovery… So what’s a super-powered teenager do when she’s looking for a little fulfillment? She goes to college!

DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS

As Word War II rages across Europe, the Allied forces issue a call to arms for the greatest heroines the world has ever known: THE BOMBSHELLS!

KATE KANE, the all-American Batwoman; DIANA OF THEMYSCIRA, warrior Princess of the Amazons; KARA STARIKOV and KORTNI DUGINOVNA, defenders of Mother Russia; and MERA, royal daughter of the legendary Atlantis! With aid from their allies at home and abroad, these mighty women will turn the tide of war and defend those inviolable rights of Truth, Justice and Freedom. 

ANDREW JACKSON THROWS A PUNCH: An Inaugural Brawl

Imagines what would happen when you combine the most out-of-control inaugural party in history with America’s fighting-est President. Punch-throwing abounds, in more ways than one. Includes historical afterword and punch recipe.

MARCH: Book One

Before he became a respected Congressman, John Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. He marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement that would change a nation forever.

Now, experience John Lewis’ incredible story first-hand, brought to life in a stunning graphic novel trilogy. With co-writer Andrew Aydin and Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, John Lewis’ MARCH tells the story of how a poor sharecropper’s son helped transform America, from a segregated schoolhouse to the 1963 March on Washington and beyond.

BOOK ONE spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Dr. King, the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

DECLARATION 

Hiram and Zacherius reflect on their first night together. The Colonies take steps towards rebellion.

 HERO 

“I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping the nation. Get in and stay the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until the revolution of 1776 is complete.” - John Lewis speech at the 1963 March on Washington