Women: Surviving Globally, Surviving in Southern California

14TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EVENT
Women: Surviving Globally, Surviving in Southern California

By Wanda Miller of DCFS Give Us Back Our Children

ON SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2013 AT 10:30 A.M. The beginning of a beautiful day, the weather was perfect. We gathered for a rally at the Downtown Jail, across the street from us family members were lining up to visit their loved ones, they were someone’s mother, sister or daughter. We were able to speak with some of them and they were happy to see us out there rallying for justice for themselves, their loved ones and for all women around the world. Lots of people signed our sign in sheets that wanted to join us in future events, passersby were honking horns and waving in support.

Even though we were across the street from the jail, likely some of those inside could see us through the tiny windows and were perhaps encouraged that we were outside protesting, that we were in solidarity with them, it was a great feeling!

The Aztec Dancers were exciting to see. They opened the rally in a traditional Native American way and then they danced at the front of the march. They were wonderful, everyone was either clapping or doing dance on steps along with them. They wore traditional Aztec clothing as they danced to the beat of the drums.

Before the march there was a brief rally. The speakers there included Nancy Berlin of Alexandria House, Mary Sutton No More Jails LA, Ed Garza Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace Orange County, Ruth Sarnoff Women’sCircle@OccupyLA, Art Frias UWUA Local 132, Judith Garcia Aztec Dancers and Patrice Cullors Coalition to End Sheriff Violence. All the speakers at the rally were appreciated and everyone was amazed that the President of the Utility Workers Union of America Mr. Langford sent a heartfelt message to us. The message was read by the President of Local 132! We felt so good that a labor union was out there with us women, with the community. In their statement they recognized the importance of the community and of women in making their victories possible. They were the only labor union represented. It warmed our hearts to hear this message of labor and community solidarity.

Our March for Survival was lively, lots of singing, chanting and dancing. We carried banners and posters representing our message of Invest in Life and Welfare, Not War and Prisons. Our message reflected all of the groups that were there, bringing to the attention of the public, our rights and the rights of others who are afraid or unable to speak for themselves.

At approx: 12:30 with about 150-200 people we started our march toward the LAST
BOOKSTORE in downtown LA about a mile away from jail, where we held a teach in. Those of us that couldn’t walk the distance rode in a van, with banners on each side. At the end of the march was the colorful Kidvillage@occupyLA bus that was decorated with banners outside. Some of the children rode in the bus. They had fun. The bus driver would honk the horn of the bus. We made lots of noise.

The majority of the people walked all the way. Being on the march was an awesome feeling of power and achievement. A lot of young people participated from the Youth Justice Coalition, they led chants and some of the young men did some brake dancing. With all of the songs sung and chants and the noise we felt real good. When we marched under a tunnel we got really loud, with the Aztec Dancers drumming and dancing all the way. During the march there were also lots of horns from the cars and trucks passing by.

People stopped to watch and cheer us, they took lots of pictures of us. There were some media vans. The closer we got to downtown the numbers of people watching us increased, people were standing on both sides of the sidewalk as we marched and drove down the street. The women especially liked us cause they knew we were honoring women and calling for women’s work to be counted, but a lot of men appreciated us as well. The police (LAPD) escorted the march since the city had not closed off the side of the street like they were supposed to. We had worked hard to get a permit to march on the street. We were excited and it was a high spirited event, it kind of had a nostalgic tone to it which made me know just how important these kinds of events are.

At approx: 1:30 we got to the LAST BOOKSTORE downtown, we took a short break to get a little something to eat and drink. The children ate and went to a little area called the children’s circle, with personal supervision, where they can play and have fun, they can read or draw or just rest, have healthy snacks.

Then we began our Teach In. The first panel was on Women Surviving Globally and we watched video presentations from or about Haiti, Tanzania, Guyana, and IJAN (International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network). The last clip was of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela talking about how important women were to what he was trying to do in Venezuela. We were all sad that such a man had died. After the panel some members of the audience asked questions or made brief statements. Sr Judy Vaughan and Nancy Berlin of Alexandria House read a Resolution from LA City Council called Women: Surviving Globally, Surviving in Southern California and everybody got a kick out of getting this support from LA City Council.

Our second panel was on Women Surviving Locally and included the following speakers: Diana Zuniga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Tanisha Denard Youth Justice Coalition, Rachel West US Prostitutes Collective, Alexa Rishton Military Families Speak Out, Rosamaria Segura CHIRLA Household Workers Campaign, and Lydia Ponce an Indigenous from Idle No More/LA, and myself DCFS Give Us Back Our Children. The panel represented many different groups who were working on a grassroots level to improve women’s lives, it was amazing how all these struggles were connected. If we don’t support all of us we will all fall, we need each other if we are going to get anywhere, if we are going to win. If we stay separate we are weaker and it is easier for us to get picked off to be used one against the other.

There was a lot of high energy during the day. Margaret Prescod gave a call to action that got everybody fired up! The event was a success and the food prepared by Food Not Bombs and some by myself, if I may say so, was really delicious, everybody enjoyed it and ate their heads off. People signed up to work on different struggles and we decided to come together maybe once a month or so to do an action or activity together. I feel it was an eye and mind opening experience for many. We all left feeling more powerful.

The event in LA was coordinated by the IWD planning group which included: Alexandria House, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Critical Resistance, DCFS Give Us Back Our Children, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, Iraq Veterans Against the War LA Chapter, KidVillage@OccupyLA, Martin Luther King Coalition, Military Families Speak Out, NO MORE JAILS LA, Veterans For Peace Orange County, Women’sCircle@OccupyLA, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike and GWS/LA. The global event was called by the Global Women’s Strike in Guyana, Haiti, India, Peru, UK, and US.

The co-sponsors were: California Partnership, Coalition to End Sheriff Violence, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Long Beach Recruiter Awareness Project, Orange Co. Peace Coalition, Jerry Acosta Utility Workers Union of America, and Youth Justice Coalition. The event was endorsed by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP). KPFK Pacifica radio 90.7FM was the media sponsor. Media coverage also included:
LA Times , La Opinion (note you can click on ‘translate’ at the top and get an automated approximate version in English), People’s World on Facebook (scroll down)
Fox 11 TV, and Channel 9 [six year old Zaire was interviewed!]

For more info, contact 323-276-9833, la@allwomencount.net.

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