Guest blog post by Michelle Moroney, Political Coordinator.
Just over one year ago – January 21st, 2017 – millions of women took to the street. There were seas of people crowding state capitols nationwide and millions of additional supporters abroad. Women of all shapes, ethnicities, ages, religions, professions came out, signs in hand, to protest the election of Donald Trump and all that his win symbolized.
One year later, we came back. This time we not only protested the Trump presidency, but also we made our voices heard as survivors of various sexual abuses, harassment, and discrimination. In 2017, waves of first-time and veteran political activists made their voices heard and we finally began to reckon with the culture of sexism and abuse in our nation. This movement peaked around October and November, in which the #MeToo movement took the world by storm. Hollywood executives, veteran reporters, politicians, and actors alike were universally condemned for their predatory and abusive actions toward women (and men) colleagues. On January 21st, 2018 we came out and showed the world that we are professionals, leaders, activists, and survivors.
Despite recovering from a broken leg, I was lucky enough to attend the Women’s March at the State Capitol in Lansing. Friends helped me navigate the crowd in a wheelchair and we made it somewhat close to the front lines. The movement has much to improve on, and in time will only strengthen, as we navigate issues of gender identity, classism, and race (among others); however it was empowering and hopeful, looking at the crowds of thousands with their signs and their spirits. The speakers – which included a diverse array of women leaders and activists – spoke of immigration, equality, sexual assault, and the need for representation in government if we are to keep pushing forward.
Among the speakers was Cindy Garcia, whose husband Jorge Garcia was recently deported to Mexico. Jorge Garcia came to America with family at age 10 and has lived in Lincoln Park, MI ever since. A resident of nearly 30 years, he is a local business owner and father. He is not allowed to enter the United States for another 10 years. She spoke of the need for immigration reform and the devastation she and her family are facing having their family torn apart.
We also heard from activists affiliated with Black Lives Matter, Wayne County SAFE, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,the Labor Studies Center and the Labor School at Wayne State University, Transgender Victims Advocate for Equality Michigan, Well of Hope, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare Coalition, African Bureau for Immigration and Social affairs. Additionally, Lilianna Reyes, a transgender Latina woman and activist, and attorney and women’s rights advocate Sheerin Siddique rallied the crowd.
The diversity of speakers was represented in the crowd, whose signs were written in English, Spanish, and Arabic among other languages. The protesters were men, women, and gender-nonconforming individuals from all walks of life.
It was extraordinary to see the swaths of people and the magnitude of their/our passion come to life. As a survivor of sexual abuse with a fair share of #MeToo stories, the 2018 Women’s March was powerful in its ability to bring together thousands, all of whom are fighting for the same things: equality, justice, and humanity.
This fight we are waging must be on multiple fronts, through protest, social media, awareness campaigns, and perhaps most importantly: in government. Thousands of people who were never before engaged in politics are now, and I’m thrilled to be working with one of them. Our current Congress member does not fight for human issues, but partisan ones. The Schiller campaign team is made of diverse people with diverse backgrounds, all of us believing that people are more important than partisanship. Nick isn’t interested in huge speeches and rubbing shoulders with elites, he didn’t enter this race for the glamour of politics or any kind of personal recognition. He fights for people and for integrity, and I am proud to work with him and be a part of this campaign.
Michelle Moroney works with the Nick Schiller for Congress campaign as a political coordinator. She is a graduate of the James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University and has worked on various social justice projects both in the United States and Australia.