By Gregg Bragg for The Island Connection
“Tweet others, as you would like to be tweeted,” said Aimee’s display at the Women’s March on Washington – South Carolina Jan. 20. The Charleston resident was one of thousands present for a high noon showdown with apathy at Brittlebank Park, for the second installment of the national event sub-titled “Rally for Electoral Justice.” “We thought if we got half [of last year’s 4,000] it would be a victory, but we had 3,700 actually sign-in on the register,” said Vanessa Moody-Laird, media coordinator for WM. Combining Charleston’s numbers with those of sister events in 600 other U.S. cities brought the national total to 4.2 million, according to a Vox News article written Jan 31. The magnitude of participation competes with historical highs according to the two sources cited, and brings consistency of turnout into focus in an election year. The presentations of dozens of guest speakers were certainly geared toward growing momentum.
Guest speaker Gina Mocha opened her presentation with Harriett Tubman’s; “I freed a thousand slaves. I would have freed a thousand more, if they had known they were slaves.” She delivered it with an infectious enthusiasm motivating anyone on the sidelines to vote in 2018 – after registering, of course.
“Text P2P to (788-683),” said a sign in front of the Women’s March on Washington – South Carolina booth. Following the instructions will walk you through the process of registering to vote using your phone. Visiting SCVotes.org will accomplish the same thing. Following the instructions will have you registered in a jiffy. All you need is a valid SC driver’s license for either method. Showing up at the polls is an avenue to effect change and several speakers illustrated why they thought the status quo isn’t working. Terence Lilly Little Water, Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Indian Affairs Commission (SCIAC) said, “We are wearing red today to bring attention to missing and murdered indigenous women. One out of every ten Native American women is murdered or missing with no judicial resolution. We need electoral justice to find [legal] justice for our women. Now, therefore, let be it resolved that the SCIAC does hereby stand in unity with every woman standing here today,” before introducing her counterpart. “Koo-HA-ah-HUT,” said Indigenous Women’s Alliance Committee Chair, Kathleen Hays. “That is a greeting in the Caddo Nation’s original language and it means simply, ‘are you good?’” to the audience’s appreciative laughs.
“Many indigenous peoples in North America have a heritage that women carried the mantles of familial and societal leadership. But, our current environment doesn’t remember that particular tradition. “In August of last year a young Native American from South Dakota named Savanna, nursing assistant, college student, and mother-to-be left her apartment, and was never heard from again. Savanna’s child was found alive 5 days later, but it took a few more days to find Savanna’s body in a nearby river.” Hays can’t help feeling the complete lack of police/judicial follow-up plainly sends the message; women aren’t worth the time it would take.
Hays brought the point came closer to home by noting if the same [1/10] rate were applied to Charleston, it would result in 400 stolen mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. Despite the emphatic point, there was less anger this year than last, replaced by the resolution to act. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept,” read Charleston resident Karen’s sign. The sentiment was echoed by Vanity Deterville, who invoked “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Dislodging those who think those rights can be debated begs the question; how do you get people to the polls? The Women’s March on Washington – South Carolina is developing a plan to do exactly that. “We raised $4,000 for the 2018 event and had, maybe, $1,000 left from last year. We incurred a lot of expenses. We had to pay for the event’s police presence, insurance, bathrooms, stage, chairs and other accommodations for the handicapped, booths, and permits to use the park, but there’s some left,” said Moody-Laird. The group plans to lobby on a couple of local issues such as; a day off work on election day, and better public transportation. Leftover funds are being earmarked for the rental of as many as 15 passenger vans to help get people to the polls. The issue at hand is what routes to take. Moody-Laird’s comments suggest this is still a work in progress, but said some of the potential targets include beauty salons, barber shops, and grocery stores. If people can get to those places, WM will take it from there. Wadmalaw resident and WM Chair Tamika Shantel Gadsden said in a press release; “Those who are interested, we will be launching a number of targeted #GOTV [Get Out The Vote] initiatives designed to reach every eligible voter in our area. Our 1st initiative includes collaboration with the Charleston County Democratic Women, and the Charleston Activist Network, “Sister to Sister Voter Engagement Project,” a salon outreach effort meant to engage salon owners and stylists to help them inform and educate their patrons.”
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