Below are the speeches from Hear Our Vote: Voices of Resistance Rally (in order of appearance). Please note these will updated as we receive them.
One year ago we stood together as part of the largest single-day demonstration in US History. We were full of despair and grasping at hope. We were filled with a foreboding, and yet a glimpse that together WE could create a resistance stronger than any one man could withstand. We knew that darkness would come, but we also saw that we would be the light.
And still, WE are here.
This year has been unlike any other. The attacks have been swift and relentless. They wear us down, knock us off balance, make us wonder what we are really doing. They surprise us when we think we can be surprised no more, and bring us to our knees when we think there is no farther to fall.
And still, WE are here.
There is no doubt this has been a tough year. But, if not for us, it would have been so much worse. This year we have shown up, stood up, and spoken up in numbers too large to ignore.
We saw this in November with record numbers of women, people of color, and transgender people being elected to office. We saw this in Alabama where African American women organized for a win that rippled across every state. We see this with the current court orders for DACA renewals to remain in place and to block the ban on Transgender people in the military. We see this with the rapid responses from national and local groups and coalitions who band together to resist hate at every turn.
And now #MeToo, started by a lone woman, Tarana Burke, has turned into a national tidal wave to end sexual harassment and assault.
And WE are still here.
We kick off 2018 knowing our work is just beginning. This year we have the opportunity of a lifetime to not only fight injustice, but to defend our rights to a clean environment, and an equitable future.
So as we listen and Rally today, we do so with renewed strength and vigor. Because, if not us then who? So, will you say it with me? WE are still here! We are still here! WE are still here!
As we get started, I’ll remind you that today we are rallying not marching.
This isn’t because we’re not angry. It’s because this is our year to take the momentum of the streets and do the hard work of making true and lasting change. And to do so, we have to listen and learn from one another. We have to know and trust one another. We have to be ready and willing to stand with strength and conviction for each other, even when we don’t understand each other’s issues, or the barriers we face in different ways.
So today is about uplifting and amplifying voices of those who have been particularly under attack. We honor new and seasoned Voices of Resistance and offer our hearts and minds with openness so that we can say I am with you. And I will still be here. So that come Nov. 6 we will vote in record numbers and ensure our future is controlled only by those who know that there is no true peace without equity for all.
HOW I VOTE
I vote for Anaconda
its name a slither of magic
I vote for the tree
In which it sleeps
And the sharp birds
Who warn of its waking
I vote for the river
For its silvery gods
Piranha who bite
Clean to the pearl of bone
They are swimming in fury
Toward the Potomac
I vote for the canopy and the cloud
For the deep forest and the thunderhead
I vote for the song and the shade
For the rain that washes
For the wind that ushers us home
I vote for our home
This blue one
To which we are all immigrants
Come from stardust and seawater
I vote for our home
To which we all belong
None more than the other
Whether your name is
Neofita or Hamid or Betty
We all belong equally to this blue earth
To our country. Because a country is an imagination
Whose limits become its borders.
I vote to live for one another
On this limitless, borderless blue.
I vote for blue
For its oceanic mind
And cobalt heart
Not so much a vote
As declaration of reverence
I vote for the reverence of poets
Who say moon
Smiling as they drown
Because they are lunatics
I vote for those who— beneath the moon—
shiver and huddle on sidewalks and doorways
In the creek beds and 7-11’s
I vote for those who look them in the eyes
And ask are you lost, scared?
Sister, are you hurt?
Little brother, are you hungry?
We are here for you
I vote for us all to be here
To be fed
To be sheltered
I vote for empathy and imagination
to become our new currency
I vote to put Winona La Duke on the twenty dollar bill
And Sojourner Truth on the fifty.
I vote for the current of the moon cycle
Moving in the belly of women
I vote for the women who say—when they will it— YES!
And for the Women who say— when they will it— NO!
I vote for woman
Same as the Earth
I vote for the round of her hip
Which carries this world
I vote for her skin, our Terra Firma
The first to hold us, to whisper
Oh loved one Oh Dreamer Welcome home.
I vote for the power of her wholeness
For her voice
Her laughter rising like bread
I vote for the land and the bread
Because they are both good
To levitate in joy
We could at least try Together
The girl in the biblioteca
And the boy in the mosque
I vote for what feeds us
The fields full of kale
The coconut tree and the deer-skin drum
I vote for the deer and the Labrador
For the appaloosa
And the forty foot snake
Even though it scares me
I vote for the earth,
For her people
But never for their Suits
They scare me.
To those who pound and strut in Suits
I say, If you want our vote
We must see your humanity!
I will not vote for meaty bodies in murderous suits
Their suits are uniforms formed against us
Their lines held by the ledger and the gun
The bright red button and nuclear bomb.
But their words are useless, weak
They speak no moon
They do not speak the language of beauty
They have said nothing beautiful in 365 days
I vote for Beauty
for the ragged
Courageous people who make it
I vote for their raggedy dance
And for the dirt under that dance
I vote for the dirt
For the water
For the single cell
That became a fish
For the fish
That crawled to land
Opened its mouth
And took a breath
I vote for that breath
I vote for the HOPE in that breath
For its improbable song
That sang us to our feet
For our feet that walked us into being
I vote to continue being In hope
I vote for us
Dian Sousa, 1.20.2018
Good afternoon. It is great to see so many supportive faces out there. I am speaking today in support of women’s reproductive rights. And I must say I am AFRAID. I have been lulled into thinking women were “safe” from the challenges our mothers and grandmothers had to face. We were safe to choose contraception if we wished; safe to decide if we wanted to become pregnant or remain pregnant; encouraged to have both careers and families if we wanted to, or be homemakers with a family size that was economically feasible due to planned birth spacing. But we have now entered a DARK TIME where well-established reproductive rights are being taken away much more rapidly than they were won to begin with. Prior to the presidential election, patients and colleagues came to me in droves asking if they should all get IUDs because they were concerned what would happen with insurance coverage if Congress and the president remained bent on eliminating women’s rights to control their own reproductive systems. Without a crystal ball I could only guess, but I shared their worries. And after a year with the current administration, these fears are being realized.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching Law & Order SVU. When a male suspect started ranting against a woman’s right to choose on a show that was re-run just last week, Detective Elliott Stabler commented: “When God gives you a uterus, then maybe we will listen to your sermon.” It is still mystifying to me that men, who will never be pregnant, never give birth, never have to decide how sexuality and career go hand in hand, are making these decisions for women. Perhaps in prehistoric times women needed protection from the wooly mammoths, and needed men to come to their rescue…PERHAPS. But in the 21st century women can and should be able to speak for themselves and make their own choices about reproduction. Do not misunderstand me. I am not up here to bash men. But I am here to urge everyone to vote for candidates, male or female, who value women’s rights as much as they value their own. Last month, on December 21, March Fong Eu died at the age of 95. Some of you may remember she was the first woman elected California Secretary of state. I mention her because one of her famous causes was rallying against pay toilets. She realized that men could use urinals for free but women had to pay to relieve themselves. There is a photo of her from 1969 dressed in heels and business attire wielding a sledge hammer breaking up a porcelain toilet that was wrapped in chains. To her pay toilets were an injustice against women. While I am happy that her intervention lead the state legislature to ban pay toilets in public buildings, what is at stake right now is far more concerning than the right to pee for free.
Let me be clear, family planning methods are not simply strategies to prevent pregnancy. They empower women to control their own fertility, BUT this will benefit not only women, but their children and their families. If social conservatives continue to set policy based on sexual and reproductive health myths, or religious beliefs rather than scientific facts, the health and well-being of women are at grave risk. Women’s rights are human rights. Please help preserve reproductive freedom. Educate yourselves and vote for candidates who will continue to promote safe access to quality reproductive health care services for all people, regardless of race, creed, income or location. We will no longer endure policies that attempt to usurp our bodies and our health. TIME’s UP!
Islands over the Ocean
From isle 17 she’s staring at me,
From over her father’s wilted shoulder.
There’s always a baby on the airplane.
And, while rarely are they a collective favorite amongst fellow passengers,
I’ve come to find them to be a reassuring presence–
It’s nice to know that there are kids going somewhere.
She looks me in the eye,
Her gaze is unfiltered, like honey, dripped right from the comb.
I’m not sure if that’s safe to put in your eyes so I look away,
But get distracted by her hair.
It’s a bit ridiculous.
Composed of fine strands that have not been listening to gravity,
It sits on her head like the colossal clouds above the islands of the Pacific.
It makes me smile and I look out the window and am confronted by those same clouds.
I think that they must be proud to be seen with islands.
But who would not announce them infinitely into the sky, given the chance?
For islands are the grandest gestures of the earth.
They are born from wild veins of the world’s own blood,
Their inheritance the promise only of a life fated to beat them back into the sea.
In spite of that, Islands grasp tighter to life than is expected of them.
They pluck flowers straight from the sky and wreath themselves extravagantly in them.
They mend the birds that fall with ragged breaths onto their shores
And work them into the scintillating multitudes that carry island songs far over the horizon into the Arctic.
They thrust their chins defiantly out of an apathetic sea.
The baby begins to cry
She does not know why her ears hurt
I wonder if she would recognize herself if she looked out of the window at the face glinting underneath the mighty clouds.
Someday she will be remembered by the shadow of coral she leaves in her wake.
In 2011 my son Blake was born with Down Syndrome and I was immediately thrust into the disability community in the form of a parent and an advocate. My initial shock and ridiculous sense of tragedy swiftly turned to triumph. I had no idea at the time what a transformative gift the birth of my son had been and continues to be. My advocacy efforts immediately began with the National Down Syndrome Society, the leading human rights organization for people with Down Syndrome. Over the last 6 years the scope of my advocacy efforts has extended to include the entire disability community. What I do for the Down Syndrome community and for my son I do for every member of the disability community and the human community.
Daily we are digitally exposed to various forms of media, memes and images. One meme stands out for me and I wish I could credit the person who penned the following phrase: “I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you.” There is no greater a phrase that I could use to illustrate my mission as a disability advocate than this one.
Take a look around you at the beauty and diversity in this crowd. Each one of you deserves to be celebrated for your differences, for your unique abilities, for your distinctive skill sets, exceptional knowledge and fascinating personal interests. Members of the disability community have all of these things; they have lives of value, dreams, abilities, skills, knowledge and deserve, just like you, to be celebrated for them and not penalized, marginalized or have them cast aside as insignificant or less than. My son and all members of the disability community are different, but they are definitely not less.
This past October I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC with the National Down Syndrome Society to a leadership summit and take meetings with our local congressional representatives as well as our California senator staffers. I had the pleasure of connecting with our district 24 Representative Salud Carbajal. He made the commitment to our community to represent the interests of people with Disabilities and supports legislation that will improve their lives and make the world more equitable and more accessible. He also joined the Down Syndrome Congressional Task force and is a respected and important member in our community. It was an experience of civic engagement that I will never forget, and it made me realize the power in numbers as well as the importance of our personal stories and singular voices. As an ambassador to the NDSS our new campaign is to End Law Syndrome. Law Syndrome effects 100% of people with Down Syndrome and everyone in the disability community. It is not the disability that holds people back from reaching their personal potentials but the antiquated laws that need to be changed and updated. Our community deserves equal access to proper health care, competitive employment, housing and inclusive education.
We are still fighting against the sub-minimum wage that is still being paid to people with disabilities who can find employment. Did you know that people with intellectual disabilities are being paid a sub-minimum wage for doing the same job someone without a disability was hired for, in this moment in California, as I speak? This must change. People with disabilities who are both receiving SSI and get married are financially penalized. This must change. Parents in this county and in many counties in this state must fight school districts (some with attorneys) to be able to secure the inclusive education that their children deserve. This must change.
We have an opportunity in November to end law syndrome for all people with disabilities by becoming engaged in the political process, voting, reaching out to our local and state representatives, call, email, make an appointment to share your story with the representative and their staff. We have an opportunity to share our stories in the media, online and otherwise. We live in the best time to share, be heard and to make a positive impact on the lives of others with a few strokes of a keyboard. One of the greatest lessons I learned at the NDSS leadership summit is: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the menu”. This is your proverbial seat at the table to be claimed, we will collectively take up the pen as an engaged group and we will write the menu we want and that we deserve.
Our voices are a strong source of change but our actions even stronger. Being here today you have affirmed your commitment to forward progress and change. You have proven that you will no longer sit down when called upon to stand up. You have illustrated that you believe in access, equality, respect and dignity for your fellow human beings and this glorious planet that we all share. Going to the polls in 2018 to cast your vote is the most radical action of resistance, persistence and belief in the future, your future.
The future is Female
The Future is Accessible
The Future is Inclusive
The Future is Diverse
The Future will be a celebration of differences and not a passive acceptance of the status quo.
In closing I want to make a personal commitment to each and every one of you before me today: I want to reaffirm that I would never, ever want to change any of you, but I promise you, peacefully and relentlessly I WILL work to change the world for you.
Buenas Tardes mi gente! Donde andan por allii – no los oigo!
Good Afternoon, peers, Americans and Dreamers. Today is our day and our voices will be heard!
As I look across the sea of beautiful faces, I cannot help but think about the wisdom our great leader César Chávez left us. In his words, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
These words have driven change in a time of strife before and It is my hope that by calling on the inspiration of the past, we can direct the change we seek for the future. That future sits firmly on our collective shoulders.
We all FACE a critical time in our nation. It is imperative that in this captured moment, where so many bright and courageous minds are gathered, we recognize the challenges our immigrant community faces and that we recommit to direct action!
Immigrants FACE many hardships:
1. Immigrants FACE a difficult journey. With no real path to naturalization. Regrettably, Congress has not delivered any solutions.
2. Immigrants FACE an administration full of vile indignation, that is bent on hurting our hard working immigrant community.
3. Immigrants FACE violence, racism, sexism, persecution, vilification, and hate.
4. Immigrant children and youth FACE coming to school with the constant fear that their loved ones may be taken from their homes.
THIS is NOT okay!
We MUST act or we all will see the far-reaching consequences of the mistreatment of our most vulnerable communities.
And so we come to today where we raise our voices like beacons, to light the path for our immigrants. It is here in the hearts and minds of you, the brilliant, and determined, the creative, and the strong, that I humbly seek your voice and attention.
Everyone here has the opportunity to use their involvement in their communities to shed light on the struggles of Immigrant people. You have the ability to act and become a way finder for a community under attack. You have a responsibility to stand side by side with your fellow citizens to build solutions, not walls.
I now ask you for your commitment to defend and support our immigrant community.
I ask that you affirm your commitment by chanting “Yes, we will!” after each of the statements I will read.
I DO ask that your chant be loud enough to be heard by the immigrants who are laboring in the nearby fields, orchards, andhotels, but more importantly be heard by our dreamers in the universities where our immigrant youth are dedicated to making a better future for themselves, their families and our nation.
Are we ready?!
1. Will YOU reaffirm your allyship to immigrants by standing up to bigots and racists?
Yes! We Will!
2. Will YOU reaffirm your allyship to immigrants by using and holding others accountable for using respectful language when speaking about immigrants?
Yes we will!
3. Will YOU be superallies to those immigrants who identify as LGBTQ+, people of color, women and muslim, whose other identities are also vulnerable to attack?
Yes we will!
4. Will YOU reaffirm your allyship to immigrants by seeking and supporting candidates who have a strong immigration reform agenda?
Yes we will!
5. Will YOU act upon that by signing up to volunteer or organize politically and socially on behalf of those who are most vulnerable?
Yes we will!
6. Finally, will YOU all pledge to defeat those who align themselves with our current administration at the ballots on November 6?
Yes we will!
Thank you to all who came out to support. Thank you for your courage and your awareness. Thank you to the hardworking leaders who put on this amazing event. Thank you to the Opispeño and Chumash band of Indians on whose land we currently stand.
Gracias a nuestra raza quien trabaja de sol a sol cada día para forjar mejores futuros no solo para sus propias familias si no para todos los que beneficiamos de su labor.
Thanks to our people who work from sunrise to sunset every day to forge better futures not only for their own families but for all of us who benefit from their work.
Please help me in invoking the power of strong latinx women by chanting Dolores Huerta’s famous chant:
I ask you: ¿Si Se puede?
Thanks everyone who made this event so amazing and successful. I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak today.
I, like so many of you here, call San Luis Obispo County my home, a home that I love. I was born and raised in San Luis and I am now raising my daughters here. THEY inspire me to do all that I can to preserve our Environment and COMMUNITY because they are the FUTURE!
When I learned that our health and safety was being threatened by big oil at the state level and that the EPA was going to make the final decision on protecting our water or sacrificing it to the oil industry, I knew I had to take action. Our current administration is dismantling the EPA and many of its protections to give big oil the gift of continued profits, with threats to our water and air from a large expansion of 450 wells to our local oil field on the horizon. These protections are needed to insure a safe and healthy environment now and in the future.
I am here today speaking on behalf of the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County a local grassroots group of community members concerned about the effects of continued extraction of fossil fuels from our earth and the climate crisis we are all facing. Grassroots activism at the local level is essential to protecting our community. We believe as a community it is our moral responsibility to lead the way to end new fossil fuel development and protect our water, land, soil and air. Our Coalition is working to bring a Citizens Initiative for the ballot in November that seeks to ban all new Oil and Gas wells in San Luis Obispo County which will include a ban on fracking.
The Arroyo Grande Oil Field located just north of Pismo Beach is one of the most climate damaging in the state, producing a heavy oil that is worse for the climate than oil from the Alberta tar sands, this dirty heavy crude from our local field is extremely inefficient. It takes roughly 22 barrels of water out of the ground to produce 1 barrel of oil. We believe that the people of SLO County wish to support a transition to renewable energy and green technology which will in turn support a bright and sustainable future.
So in November when you go to the polls, it’s imperative to think about future generations and the impact your vote will have on their lives. We need each and every one of you in the coming weeks. We will be gathering signatures – 13,000 SLO county voter signatures are needed to qualify our Initiative for the ballot. We invite you to join in the movement and be a climate optimist because we know we can make a difference locally that will help globally to ensure a better future. You can find out more information on our website ProtectSLOCounty.org.
So please join us to Protect San Luis Obispo County, Protect our Water and stop new Oil infrastructure.