It was a beautiful day, and we had a passionate, energetic crowd and speakers. The timing was great too – using the occasion of Women’s Equality Day to celebrate women’s progress and talking about what women still need. Elected officials, Durham City Council members, Durham County Commissioners and 300 plus people marched in solidarity and in support of Women’s Rights.
Photo Credit: Phil Fonville
Our event began at the Old Durham Courthouse, where NC NOW president Gailya Paliga was the EmCee. Speakers included Durham Pastor, Rev. Jimmie Ray Hawkins, with a welcome prayer, Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Cora Cole-McFadden, Audrey Muck of NC NOW talking on women’s equality and ERA, Beth Dehghan on Cities for CEDAW, and Rev. Michelle Laws of NC-NAACP talking about why we march. There were HUNDREDS of people at the courthouse at 4:30pm.
Photo Credit: Phil Fonville
NC NOW President Gailya Paliga speaking, Rev. Jimmie Hawkins assisting
The Triangle Tribune has a nice video of some of the speeches before the march at the Old Durham Courthouse. See it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JjDT4dVLFs&feature=youtu.be Audrey Muck’s speech is at AudreyMuck.Women’s Equality Day Speech. Beth Dehghan’s speech is at CEDAW.BethDehghanSpeech.
We marched over to Durham Central Park together (with a van option for those who didn’t want to march). Chanting some chants and singing some songs!
A great early view of the march is Marena Groll’s video on facebook, posted on the NC NOW facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/NC-NOW-National-Organization-for-Women/180024368705304?ref=hl.
Other people waited for us at Durham Central Park, and more adults and children joined us for our rally which began at 6:15pm (after work). The rally/main event included speakers and entertainment.
You can get a real feel for the whole event (from gathering at the courthouse to the end of the rally) watching this great video by Fusion Films/Eric Preston at https://vimeo.com/138738428
Our keynote speaker was Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
Elaine Marshall quote “Inequality is like rust. If you let it stay, and you don’t rub it out, it’s going to spread to other areas. And politics is absolutely the one area where women need to apply more elbow grease and scrub out that lingering rust of inequality.” The whole speech is at https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/dont-accept-anything-less-than-equality-and-justice-for-all/
NC NOW members Roberta Waddle and Marena Groll stood in front waving fans that said “I’m a fan of Elaine Marshall!” from one of Elaine Marshalls past election campaigns. NC NOW PAC has endorsed Elaine Marshall since way back!
Our community speakers talked about how all women are directly affected by state and national policies. We heard about what all women face, and got special perspectives from a youth advocate, what Hispanic women face, what African American women face, and what moms face.
Erin Byrd, representing Black Women’s Roundtable, said “Look around you! Look at all the people that are here and think about all the women that you know. It’s not enough to say ‘go out and vote.’ We have to educate, we have to organize, we have to build organization, and we have to collaborate.” And so we do.
NC Women Matter’s Pat Orrange took us through the main event, always upbeat and always keeping things moving!
We had great entertainment, including the Walltown Dance Company, and the excellent band, EuEpiphany! They started playing at 4:30pm, played between speakers and at the end.
NC NOW women did a presentation touching on 24 very important women over time – and including women of different time periods, races and religions. The ‘women through time’ skit was called “Phenomenal Women,” and 24 women were recognized in conjunction with 4 verses of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman poem. Read about the women and associated items at NC NOW SKIT Final.
Photo Credit: Phil Fonville
Miss Ethelyn Baker from Fayetteville NOW with Sojourner Truth’s famous saying from a speech “And Ain’t I A Woman.” Molly McKinney and Audrey Muck reading verses from Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” on stage.
Our last formal speaker was Senator Erica Smith-Ingram who talked about what would help her and other advocates make forward progress for women in the legislature. Senator Erica Smith-Ingram really brought it home as our last formal speaker. “We as women represent 54% of registered voters in North Carolina.” “We [as women] need our own seat at the table. We need our own representation in the Senate. We need our own voices to be able to lift up the concerns and cares that we have.” And the crowd joined her on this repeated chant, “I am woman. Hear me roar. It’s time for more for the 54!”
The event was put together by a coalition of organizations, including NC NOW, ActionNC, NC4ERA, WomenNC, NC Women Matter, MomsRisingNC, Working America in NC, and NCWU.
Reporter Lauren Horsch of The Durham Herald covered the rally part of our event at http://www. heraldsun.com/news/durham-central-park-crowd-rallies-for-women-s-rights-marshall /article_9f721e82-4de6-11e5-a5b7-7b1610808a92.html. I loved the first part of the first sentence – “Durham Central Park was surging with energy Friday night” but want the Durham Herald to correct the attendance number. There were HUNDREDS of people – I would say over 300 and may have been close to 400. The police should be able to confirm – they were present at the Courthouse and on the march path, and also around at the rally. Also, you can see them in the videos of the event.
-Gailya Paliga President, NC National Organization for Women
p.s. This is what we want – women working together to reach more people. We need more women (and men) to find their voices and work together to make the changes we all need – in society and in our laws. Our work continues with inspiring people with fun but educational events like this one. Thanks all!