Dallas Women’s March 2018

David Clanton

Arriving an hour early for the Dallas Women’s March, David and I found a spot in the parking lot of St. Paul United Methodist Church, where thousands of women, woke men, and children were gathering. As at the Austin Women’s March I participated in last year, the diverse crowd at this year’s Dallas Women’s March included various ages, genders, races, gender identities, religions, and abilities.

 

 

Colette, Akira, Nikko, and Zayden Numajiri

 

 

 

 

Amy Martin

Another advantage of arriving early was time to see friends, make new friends, and take pictures of people holding creative, colorful signs. Some of my favorite signs: Painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe with “We Are Sacred” on the other side of the sign; “Tried to bury us, did not know we were seeds”;  “Time’s Up! Women’s Rights=Human Rights”; “Trust Women”; “Code Pink: Women for Peace”; “Unlearn Racism”; “Rise, Resist”; “This Great-Grandma and her friends are persistent and we vote”; “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human.” I was delighted to connect with Amy Martin, Carolyn Henson, Pam Reinke-Walter, Ed and Amy and Penelope Meier, Rabbi Nancy Kasten (see her powerful blessing later in this blogpost), and other activist friends. And I finally found Colette, Akira, Zayden, and Nikko Numajiro, wonderful friends and colleagues in New Wineskins Feminist Ritual Community.

Carolyn Henson and daughter, Cammy Henson Dunford

Florence Quillin, and daughter, Laura Olivo

Isabel Docampo, wearing her “Nevertheless She Preached” shirt

I’d planned to meet Florence Quillin and Isabel Docampo, also great friends and colleagues in New Wineskins and Equity for Women in the Church. We kept texting back and forth, but in the sea of people we couldn’t find each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the march we moved slowly along, taking almost an hour for the large crowd of people—some in wheelchairs, some on walkers, and some in baby strollers—to go a mile. Everyone was peaceful and kind and polite. Along the way we chanted and sang. The most popular chant was:
“Tell me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like.”

Other chants included:
“Women, united, will never be divided!”
“When women are under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!”
Refugees are here to stay! Welcome them in every way!”
“Don’t give in to racist fears; immigrants are welcome here!”
“Child care, health care, education: women fight for liberation!”
“C’mon, c’mon, join the fight: equal pay is a basic right!”
“1, 2, 3, 4, Patriarchy has to go! 5, 6, 7, 8, Women’s rights are at stake”
“We’re women, say it loud. We vote and we’re proud!”

The focus of the 2018 Dallas Women’s March, joining hundreds of thousands in marches around the nation and world, was preserving and expanding our democracy. One of the slogans was: “Last year we marched, this year we run.” Many women and feminist men running for office participated in this year’s Dallas Women’s March, and many signs, like “Power to the Polls,” encouraged everyone to vote. One of the purposes of this second march was to get people to the polls. This year’s march was also energized by the “MeToo” and “Time’s Up!” movements to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault.

At the rally at Pike Park, the crowd responded with enthusiasm to the diverse group of speakers. All the speakers challenged women and everyone else to vote, as well to advocate for women’s rights and other justice issues.

Rabbi Nancy Kasten

Rabbi Nancy Kasten, community activist and co-chair of Faith Forward Dallas, gave an inspiring invocation as she stood by a sign that read: “Resisting tyrants since Pharoah.” She compared Miriam’s vital role in saving her nation to women of today who resist injustice to save lives. She was kind to send me her blessing with permission to publish it here:

“Her name was Miriam, and she joined the resistance at a very young age. As an Israelite girl living in the shadow of the royal palace, legend suggests she was one of two midwives who saved the male babies whom Pharoah had sentenced to death for the crime of being born. She went on to rescue Moses from the Nile and deliver him to Pharoah’s daughter, creating a sacred bond between women that crossed ethnic, class and religious lines in the name of saving a life, and, ultimately, a nation.

Her name was Miriam, and without her, there would have been no redemption. Her choice to act was rooted in moral reason, in an ethical concern for life, and in the capacity for deep empathy and compassion.* She knew that Pharoah had crossed a line that must not be crossed, and so she engaged in an act of civil disobedience. Whether saving babies from the Nile, or protecting Dreamers from deportation, women throughout history have dared to defy the male tyrant because we know what is demanded of us- demanded not only by our God, but by our babies, by our precious children, whom we have borne into the world and whose humanity we have a duty to protect and defend. Once again, in this time and in this place, women are called upon to set the wheels of redemption in motion. And as we do so, we must resist the human impulse to sacrifice compassion for the sake of power. Our power is rooted in our compassion. Without it, we lose.

We march today to let our oppressors know that we refuse to sacrifice the dignity and agency of the born of any race, gender, nationality, or faith tradition, while making the unborn into a false idol. We are here to say, “Me, Too,” in solidarity with women who are treated as disposable property, and in solidarity with women who claim their power by helping others to claim theirs.

And we are here today also to claim the legacy of that same Miriam, who led the women in celebration when they reached freedom’s shore. Miriam is mentioned 14 times in the Hebrew bible. But the only time she is referred to as a prophet is when she leads the women in song and dance after crossing the Sea of Reeds. In doing so she reminds us that we cannot wait to celebrate until redemption comes, until the work is complete -until we enter the Promised Land. Just a taste of the world to come encourages us to continue the work, knowing that we are not alone, knowing that redemption lies ahead. Today we sing and dance as we march together as one, in joy and in gratitude for this blessed community.

Holy One of Blessing, we pray that our steps this day will lead ourselves, our families, our city, our state and our country toward wholeness, justice, and peace. Be with us as we make our way, and lift our hearts toward you now and always.”

*Phrase adapted from Susan Niditch, “Another View” in The Torah, A Women’s Commentary” p. 324

Rev. Lucretia Facen

Rev. Lucretia Facen, senior pastor of New World United Methodist Church in Garland, Texas, also gave a powerful blessing. She kindly sent me a written copy of her prayer with permission to publish it here; in her email she included this note: “It doesn’t match word for word what I prayed at the march. Things change in the moment, and I try to allow God’s Spirit freedom. Here’s what I wrote”:

“Gracious, Loving, Life-Giving and Eternal God
We thank you for your presence among us this day
We thank you for this amazing event
Where women from all walks of life have gathered to affirm our right to be
For we live in a world that often devalues us, denigrates us and denies our worth
Yet we gather today to affirm and assert our right to “Be”
We have the right to Be valued
We have the right to Be powerful
We have the right to Be respected
We have the right to Be free from harassment
We have the right to Be safe in our own homes
We have the right today to Be advocates of justice and equality for all women
Because We are created in Your divine image
Therefore, we have the right to “Be”………all that you have created us to “Be”
And today we come together to be strengthened, to be encouraged, to be empowered, to be reminded that we are not alone
That You are with us
And since You are with us……who dare be against us…….
Bless us this day as we celebrate the gift of who we are
Bearers of Your image, Your light and Your love
In Your name we pray. Amen”

Representative Victoria Neave

Among the stirring speakers at the rally was Texas State Representative Victoria Neave, who organized the 2018 Dallas Women’s March, as well as the 2017 Dallas Women’s March. I’m proud that she’s our state representative and that in her first year in office, she’s helped pass legislation for women’s rights. Other rousing speakers included Representative Helen Giddings and County Commissioner Elba Garcia. 

Representative Helen Giddings

County Commissioner Elba Garcia

 

One of the march organizers, Rhetta Bowers, said, “Last year we said it was a moment, but it’s turned into a movement.“

 

carrying Christian Feminism Today (CFT) bag, filled with CFT and Equity for Women in the Church brochures to distribute

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2 Comments

  1. Colette Numajiri
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your personal account of that powerful day. Took me right back there and in that hope and self-empowerment is where we need to stay. Love it!

  2. janna
    Posted January 25, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment, and for your partnership on the journey of self-empowerment and empowerment for all women and others!

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