By Jesse La Tour
On January 19th, thousands gathered in downtown Santa Ana for the third annual OC Women’s March.
“This is the third year that we’ve come together to march to assert what should be a very simple concept, but one that we still struggle to achieve, and that is that women’s rights are human rights,” said event emcee Dr.Michele Goodwin to the large crowd of people gathered near the Civic Center before the march began.
Goodwin noted that this year’s march comes on the same week as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, and that Dr. King stood for more that just the March on Washington, but he also stood for equal pay, for environmental justice, and for women’s rights.
When King was asked in 1966 why he stood for some many social movements, his response was, “I refuse to segregate my moral concerns.” Goodwin led the crowd in a chant “We refuse to segregate our moral concerns!”
Indeed, the Women’s March was not just about women’s rights. Gillian Palacios, a sophomore at Santa Ana High School read from the mission statement of the OC Women’s March: “We march as a grassroots effort, fighting for equal rights of all women, regardless of religious beliefs, race, status, or sexual orientation. As women, we must stand in solidarity with all marginalized communities and ask those communities to stand together with us against oppression in all forms.”
Before the march, women representatives of Orange County Native American tribes (Acjechemen and Tongva/Kizh) addressed the crowd.
“We are the indigenous women from different respective tribes standing before you to tell you that we exist and we’re still here and we still hold onto our traditions here in Orange County. We march today to bring awareness of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls,” said Michelle Castillo of the Orange County Native Voices Coalition.
State Senator Connie Leyva introduced a large number of women who had recently been elected in Orange County at various levels of government, including congresswoman Katie Porter, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva, and many members of city councils and school boards.
“This is the future of California and the United States, and it is decidedly female,” said Leyva, who added that “We also have some enlightened men here tonight” and introduced newly-elected congressmember Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda, and others.
Leyva asked former OC Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, “What advice do you have for the young women in the audience who want to run for office now and in the future?”
“Get on a campaign so you can see if you like the political process. Learn every day. Don’t wait. Work with each other, get on those slates for water board, school district, transportation. Let’s not wait. If women run, women win,” said Sanchez.
The featured speaker of the March was civil rights/labor leader Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers in 1962 with Cesar Chavez, and started the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Huerta has receive the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States.
“We are marching for the future of our children, and we are marching for the future of the United States of America,” said Huerta, who expressed solidarity with the teachers who are on strike in Los Angeles, and with a wide variety of social movements.
Huerta said that public schools need to add gender studies, ethnic studies, and labor studies, so people are more aware of the social movements that came before them.
“We need to teach our children where the 8-hour day came from, where weekends came from. Our children do not know about May Day, about that riot that took place in Chicago before the 20th century, where the people who were fighting for the 8-hour day were executed. We don’t know that. We need to know the names of those martyrs who fought for the 8-hour day and for our weekends so we can enjoy them,” said Huerta.
She spoke against extreme wealth inequality in America.
“It is a shame that we have in our society one percent of the wealthy families own 50 percent of the wealth…and yet we have so many people who are homeless on our streets, so many women who are homeless on our streets. We should not allow this continue.”
She also said, “I think it’s about time that the U.S. Senate ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for women!”
Huerta ended by urging people to remember the contributions of not just Martin Luther King Jr, bur Coretta Scott King.
“Let’s not forget Coretta. There wouldn’t be a Martin Luther King day without Coretta Scott King because she’s the one who went all over the country campaigning to make sure it (the Civil Rights Act) passed congress,” said Huerta, “We know that when women march, people win. We are going to lead the way because we are really going to make the United States of America a real democracy.”
Huerta led the March through the streets of downtown Santa Ana, as marchers carried signs and chanted slogans like:
Si se puede! [Yes we Can!]
Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!
When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!
Women united will never be divided!
Here are some photos of the march:
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Categories: Local News