Dear Marchers,

Below are the speeches from the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo from January 21, 2017 (in order of appearance).

 

Dawn Addis
Women’s March SLO Co-Founder and Co-Organizer

Whose idea was this anyway?

First, let me introduce the ladies that helped make this happen. They are the backbone of all the beauty today. Jen Ford – Co-founder and Co-organizer; Andrea Chmelik – Social Media Maverick and Call to Action Alley Coordinator; Terry Parry – Rally Coordinator; and Pat Harris – all around awesome and Volunteer Coordinator for over 150 volunteers that showed up to support you today!

Before we get started, I want to ask you to take a moment to put one person in your mind and in your heart, a person that you are speaking out for today. It could be yourself, your parent, your child, your partner, or your friend. Maybe it’s someone you don’t personally know yet. But whoever that person is, keep them in the forefront of your thoughts as you march today.

Make them your touchstone.

Because, as you know, this march isn’t just about this moment. It’s about the moments ahead of us and the people we hold dear. This movement, while it is about issues and ideas, is really about the people we care about, and our desire to protect them.

We know that the days ahead may make us weary, so carry this person with you as your hope and your strength. Let them be your reason and today be your beginning.

We need to say thank you to just a few of the people who have kept this thing going. Without these folks, and many others, there is no way we could have pulled this march off in just 10 short weeks.

First I want to personally thank the other four women who made this happen. There really are no words to describe the bonds we build when we come together as kindred spirits.

We also want to thank our families for putting up with us the past 10 weeks. It has been an odyssey none of us could ever have envisioned. There is no way we could have kept going without you.

Our phenomenal lineup of entertainers and speakers deserve many thanks because they believe that together we will make a difference.

In addition, we want to thank a number of local businesses and organizations who donated their services and have given us support. Please, patronize them. They are Rock Harbor Media, Gorilla Gardening Club, Bike SLO County, Harvey’s Honey Huts, the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association.

A huge shout out to our sign language interpreters who are donating their services today.

There are too many elected officials here to name, but I do want to recognize that we have both city and county elected officials as well as our local SLCUSD school board. I’d also like to mention Congressman Salud Carbajal and his wife who are wearing the San Luis Obispo Women’s March T-shirts at the National March today!

This event is entirely crowdfunded by over 600 donors who together raised over $25,000. Without you, we would not be standing here today.

We also need to thank the miracle workers who helped us through the process – the SLO Police Department, SLO Fire Department, and City workers who helped make this happen.

And finally, last but not least, please give yourselves a thank you. Over 7,500 of you registered.

Today is the first day of the new administration and you showed up to say what you stand for! HEAR OUR VOICE!

 

Dian Sousa
SLO Poet Laureate

WHY WE MARCH

We march
Because there is no poet in the White House
No music, no art, no reverence, no love
For the poetry of our Mother Earth
And the language of her people
Which has been stolen and replaced
With an oppressive language of twittering lies

We gather and we march
To reclaim our voice
To release its thunder
To ignite its incendiary beauty
To rekindle its power and light
Which has always lead us out of the darkness

We march to move forward

Because we can not go backward to an America…that never existed
Or existed only for a lucky… sanitized…fast asleep few

We march to move forward in the best tradition
Of those who have always marched
Who have given their lives to move us forward
From an otherwise brutish America

Where Father Knew Best
And MOTHER was never allowed to speak
Where sister bled out from a back alley abortion
And brother was sent to occupy the land and steal the lives

Of the Comanche, The Lakota, The Apache, The Arapaho,
The Meskwaki and the Sioux

Where black lives were terrorized, torn apart
Strung, the strange fruit on hideous trees
Where exhausted, grieving, brave human beings
Were told over and over again
That their lives were worth
Only three-quarters of a white mans’ life
That their lives did not matter
When we know that black lives DO matter

Where the rainbow
When it tried to show its courage and its truth,
To marry, to celebrate its love in every new and unconditional light of day
Was brutalized, murdered, legislated into the closets

Where no one stopped the trains and busses from grinding over human rights
Into the wastelands of Manzanar and Poston, Gila River and Crystal City.

Where too many forgot that Jesus and Mohammad
Were brown skinned brothers in the Revolution of Love

We march
Because to look into the eyes of un otro ser humano and say
You are illegal is a construct of inhumanity

We gather and we march forward
With the wisdom and courage of Black Elk, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks,
Margaret Sanger, Harvey Milk, Muhammad Ali, Winona La Duke,
Cesar Chavez, and Barbara Lee

We march for women and our right to sovereignty over our own beautiful bodies

And YES! We are BEAUTIFUL
And Yes! We are STRONG

Whether we are young
Or middle aged
Or white haired as the great head of Kilimanjaro
Or bound to a wheel chair or covered in keloids

We march because this is DAY ONE, AGAIN,
In the fight for our lives

In the the fight for our Mother Earth cloaked in all her colors and great song

For the immense blue mind of the rising sea
For the redwoods, the yellow-faced bee,
The Florida Panther, the gray bats,
And the Beluga whale

We march to sing with Emma Lazarus

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
Oh and those who are cold in the street, homeless and hungry and sick
We march for them

We march and we sing for the true America

We march because the future will ask,
What did you do?

We awoke
We bore witness
We gathered
And We The People marched

And We The People will not stop marching
Will not stop resisting and working and healing
Will not stop singing
Until our real voices are heard
Until our words become the true law

LIBERTY JUSTICE EQUALITY COMPASSION DIGNITY REVERENCE
AND LOVE FOR ALL

Dian Sousa 1/21/2017

 

Courtney Haile
RACE Matters SLO County Co-Founder

Good Morning San Luis Obispo! Nasty Women make some noise!

My name is Courtney Haile and I am marching today, and putting one foot in front of the other for the next four years, to declare that I am here. I am watching. I am ready. I am ready to give my time, to speak my mind, and to work across difference, to support the communities and organizations that are vulnerable in today’s America.

Today I am representing RACE Matters SLO County, a group I co-founded to engage our community matters of racial justice and to advance a local dialogue around race. Speaking of race, the vast majority of you do not look like me — and that is okay! We are not all the same; and my naming that difference is not exclusionary.

Today we face interconnecting battles — for racial, environmental, re-productive, queer, and trans justice — battles for healthcare, for the respect of our indigenous people and their land, for the dignity and safety of immigrants of all statuses and protection the of religious minorities- in particular, our Muslim sisters and brothers.

I looked up the word origin of Protest. . .and Latin, Old French, and Late Middle English tell us that to protest is to publicly assert — to make a solemn declaration. So I am proud to declare publicly to the new inhabitant of The White House — that We are here. We are Watching. We are Ready. We are ready to keep moving forward with this movement – and not just today – but for as long it takes.

It is a privilege to be here. We are privileged to be able to march. There are people who can’t be here because they have to work, because they can’t afford childcare, because they are incarcerated, because they struggle with physical or mental illness, because they live in fear over their immigration status. A lot of the folks who can’t be here need our support. And not. just. Today.

What about when the march is over? The people in power are expecting us to fade–into silence and complacency. Movements take more than one march, when we’re all excited. Resistance requires constant work that isn’t always pretty or comfortable. Are you ready to work!? Call to Action alley is lined with organizations who serve this community and I call on you to see where you fit in and what you can give. If you’d like to learn more about, or become more involved with RACE Matters SLO County please find us on Facebook and shoot us a message. We will respond.

I’ll leave you now with the words of Coretta Scott King: “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”

Let’s do this, ladies, Thank you!

 

Rubia Siddiqi
President of Muslim Student Association at Cal Poly

Hello Everyone, and Assalamualaikum. This means may peace be upon you, and is the standard greeting Muslims use when they meet someone. Today I am here to talk to you about Islam, Women, and Society.

I want to start by sharing my experience as a Muslim woman. I was born into the religion, with my parents establishing the main concepts of Islam into my life from day one. These were Peace, Justice, and Equality amongst all human beings. When I chose to start wearing the head scarf, or the hijab, last year, I knew that I was taking on the weighted responsibility of representing these values publicly and outwardly, which was intimidating. But I felt the need to embrace my identity and to stand up for my beliefs, so I did. And I am so happy I took this step, because I have been blessed to enjoy every minute of wearing it. Not only do I feel more confident in myself, but I feel liberated. And Islam is the reason for that.

Even before the hijab, I knew that the belief system I identified with saw me as an equal to men and guaranteed me with the right to choose how I wanted to live. Islam gives me rights to my involvement in society, in politics, and in leadership. But most importantly, it gives me my rights as a human.

In our society, this basic, most obvious right to feel like and to be treated as a human, as an equal to others regardless of our gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and everything else that makes us different from each other is threatened. We have made continuous progress in many areas of life, except for the one area that unites us all: being human.

When basic human rights are limited to one group, the rest of us are told that we are essentially less than human. That we are somehow inferior because of how we were born, or how we choose to live. This type of mentality compromises our rights as human beings, and our respect as human beings.

A verse in the Quran says, “The believing men and the believing women are guardians of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” (Quran, 9:71). This means that we are all made to protect and support one another. To take care of one another. And to stand for what is right, and to denounce what is wrong. This means you do not stay silent when you know something is unjust, because there can be no peace when there is no justice.

This verse was revealed when society was in a state of turmoil, and God told us to unite under threatening circumstances. Regardless of your belief system, we can all learn from these words because we are all currently in a state of turmoil.

We are threatened. We are being targeted by policies that diminish us as humans, which will only result in history repeating itself where a group of people suffers immensely while everyone else who knows it is wrong stays silent, allowing for injustice to occur. But I do not want to go down in textbooks as a sad history lesson.

These problems can only be resolved if we all, as men and women, work towards the common goal of establishing mutual respect for each other. We need to unite under the principle that although we are not the same, we are all equal. And this is the only way we will be able to move towards Peace, Justice, and Equality amongst all human beings.

It has always been said that this is a man’s world. But really, who run the world? Girls. Thank you.

-Rubia Siddiqi, on behalf of the San Luis Obispo Muslim community

 

Erica Flores Baltodano
Civil Rights Activist & Local Attorney at Baltodano & Baltodano LLP

Good morning. It’s January 21 . TODAY IS A NEW DAY.

Not all of us woke up feeling great this morning, but like every woman I know—every mother and every caretaker, every professional and every low-wage worker, every public servant and every non-profit warrior, every farmer and every farmworker, every servicewoman and every immigrant, and every teacher and every student—just like every woman I know who juggles through life and handles her business, we got up and we showed up today.

I am delighted to see so many of us here with our partners, our friends, our families, our children, our colleagues, and each other. Thank you for getting up and showing up to march in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of women in cities throughout California, in Washington DC, across the country, and around the world.

It is true that many of us have not been feeling our best. Some of us are sad. Some of us are fearful. Some of us are angry. Some of us have been harassed or threatened or worse. Some of us are just plain tired. But today is a new day, so let this be the beginning of one LOUD, PERSISTENT, COLLECTIVE, DIVERSE, and JUSTICE-SEEKING roar of strength and action that reverberates far and wide.

Poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou reminds us that we may not control all the events that happen to us, but we can decide not to be reduced by them.

So, today is a new day. In 2017 we stand together, as we have done time and time again, in solidarity, for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families. We recognize that our vibrant and diverse communities represent the strength of our country. The set-backs we face represent a reminder to check our complacency at the door. A stranger’s struggle that is different from our own represents an opportunity for empathy and a plea for compassion. Today is a new day and WE WILL NOT BE REDUCED.

We will not be reduced because we will be STRONGER. Together, our voices, our actions, our compassion, and our love will be stronger than it has ever been before. We will be stronger because we recognize that each of us has a unique story to be told, unique talents and gifts to be shared, and unique life experiences that shape who we are and what we can offer as we move forward. Our diversity, our strength in numbers, and our very humanity will be our force and our power.

We will not be reduced because we will be ASSERTIVE. We will stick up for each other and refuse to be silenced. We will know our rights and take steps to protect and maintain them. We will not take progress for granted or leave anyone behind. We will vote, run for office, empower young people, demand equal access and equal protection in our schools, our universities, and our jobs, and we will be leaders of our communities. We will be examples of peace and role models of respect and we will not be alone. We will be vocal and we will be assertive.

We will not be reduced because we will be AWARE. We will educate ourselves and our children and be teachers when necessary and students always. We will be mindful of the news we consume and the stories we are told. We will oppose the normalization of tyranny and hatred and resist the decline of decency and denial of facts. We will remember darker days and the tendency of history to repeat itself and our awareness will move us forward.

Today is a new day. You got up and you showed up. You decided not to be reduced.

When I was asked why I march, I could hardly think of a reason why I wouldn’t march.

As the daughter of a Jewish immigrant mother and Mexican-American father, I have to march.

As the wife of a man whose family came to this county as refugees seeking asylum, I have to march.

As a civil rights advocate who has dedicated my legal career to social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice, I have to march.

As the founder of a law firm committed to workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, and justice for working people, I have to march.

As a voter who takes my civic responsibility seriously and recognizes my ability as a constituent to shape local, state, federal, and even international policy, I have to march.

As a human being concerned about the health of our planet and its people, I have to march.

As an ally to friends and strangers and children my LGBTQIA sisters who are targets of hate or are feeling vulnerable, or have experienced sexual violence, or have been impacted by an inequitable criminal justice system, or stand to lose access to affordable healthcare, I have to march.

As a mother and as a woman, I simply have to march.

A couple of months ago, constitutional scholar and law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, aptly told a group of students: “We have only two choices – to give up or to fight harder. That means there really only is one choice.”

Today we will march and tomorrow and the next day and for all the days ahead we will fight harder.

Let our first step forward—together—begin now.

 

Deanna Cantrell
SLO Police Chief

For those of you that are not from our wonderful county or beautiful city – welcome to San Luis Obispo.

I would first like to thank Terry, Dawn, Jen, Andrea, and Pat for their thoughtful planning and organizing of this PRO peace event and for their deep desire to have a peaceful, inclusive and respectful march to bring recognition to Women’s and human rights of all people.

Throughout the day, you will see many men and women in uniform and from agencies around the county. Know that we respect your right to assemble and that we’re here to ensure the safety of everyone here today. Your safety today starts with each of you. Please hold each other accountable to a peaceful march and do not let your message get lost in violence or anger.

Your message is an important one, not one of indifference, but one of togetherness, equality, fairness and freedom. A message of basic human rights that are inherent to all human beings, regardless of income, race, age, nationality, sex, color, religion, political preference, language, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or any other status. These rights are interconnected and indivisible of one another.

As the chief of police in San Luis Obispo, I had the great opportunity to speak to 40 new graduating police officers recently. I found that my conversation with them, applies to are all here today. I told them: “You must love your fellow human beings more than anything else, even yourselves. You must do all you can to set aside biases because you represent all of the people – fairly, equally and without malice. You must never act in a way to harm our communities because our communities have entrusted us to preserve its ideals, the sanctity of human dignity and life itself.” I realized when preparing for this, that those words apply to not only law enforcement, but all of society, and if we all embraced this philosophy we would have a much better world.

I leave you with a couple of thoughts. The first is optimism – many have fought for equality, and their efforts have not been in vain. Continue to strive for an equal society and you will see it.

The second is resolve – the future is not created yet – it is everyone’s responsibility to create a better world for others.

Last, there are a lot of people here – please be respectful of each other, be careful, look where you are walking, enjoy San Luis Obispo, and have a safe and peaceful march.

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