On “keeping going while things are stirring…”& the ongoing women’s marches

Left: Three women smile and pose for a picture, two of them hold protest signs that are images of women, behind them are marchers at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Right: Seven women stand in the middle of the street each holding a life-size red colored letter to make the word “JUSTICE,” at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017, the Washington monument can be seen in the background.

Photos courtesy of The Women’s March – powertothepolls.com.

Shalini Eddens

One year ago, over 3 million people around the United States took to the streets to protest a government whose rhetoric and tone threatened human rights and contradicted basic human values like respect, kindness, fairness, and integrity. The Women’s March was a pivotal moment both in the United States and globally. It was an outpouring of love and a public expression of outrage. It lit fires of creative energy that led many to find their political voice for the first time.

Today, many of the fears and concerns we held then have become our reality. We are witnessing renewed nationalism, white supremacy, racism, Islamophobia, and patriarchy. The rights of the most marginalized communities are under open attack, as repressive governments come into power.

On November 9th, 2016, Urgent Action Fund launched the Resist & Reclaim Fund to support activists and organizations in the United States who are at the frontline of fighting for the human rights we all deserve. Since that day, the Resist & Reclaim Fund has provided rapid security and rapid advocacy support to 36 organizations in 14 US states from New York to Louisiana to Texas to Washington. Over 90% of these grants went to efforts led by women and transgender people of color. Groups supported include the Young Women’s Freedom Center in California, who swiftly drafted a policy platform in response to local propositions that would impact formerly incarcerated girls. As immigrant communities came under attack, the Resist & Reclaim Fund supported rapid legal aid as well as a convening of LGBTQ Black immigrants from across the country to create long-term strategies and build a network.

Of concern to us, over the past few years, Urgent Action Fund has seen a 300% increase in security grant applications from women and LGBT activists in the United States. Thus the Resist & Reclaim Fund has also provided support for relocation and other security measures, such as for a faith leader in Tennessee who received death threats after she denounced white supremacist actions in Virginia.

The Women’s March in 2017 also laid the ground for a re-examination of the feminist movement in the United States. The reality of how much is at stake and the moral responsibility to take a stand has manifested into initiatives such as Time’s Up Now and #MeToo which have shone a light on sexual harassment and abuse of women and girls; the Women’s Convention that brought together over 5000 participants in Detroit, Michigan for an activist boot camp; or the wins in the November mid-term elections in Virginia with the election of the first openly transgender woman to the state legislature or when Alabama Black women ensured that Roy Moore (who has been accused of sexual harassment), was not re-elected back into office.

The momentum continues as organizers prepare for the Women’s March Rally on January 21st in Nevada, a battleground state and location of one the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The theme is Power to the Polls. The rally will mobilize women to register to vote and promote the election of more women and progressive candidates into public office.

At Urgent Action Fund, our struggle for justice and equality will continue until each and every person in all the corners of this world can attain the freedom to live their fullest lives. In the words of Black abolitionist and women’s rights activists Sojourner Truth from her address to the American Equal Rights Association in 1867, “So I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring; because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again.”

Whether you are attending the rally in Nevada, watching it via live stream, marching in your home state, or using the day to be with family and friends, Urgent Action Fund stands with you in solidarity, justice, and love on January 21st and always. We can’t stop and won’t stop.