Thursday, July 07, 2005

Indymedia Spotlight: "Hundreds of Feminists Descend on Tennessee State Capital to Demand Women's Rights" by Abigail Thorton (Tennessee Indymedia)

Our Indymedia spotlight story is Abigail Thorton's "Hundreds of Feminists Descend on Tennessee State Capital to Demand Women's Rights" from Tennessee Indymedia:
NOW Says "We Will Not Go Back" at Nashville Rally

On the day after the announced resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, hundreds of women attending the National Organization of Women Conference in Nashville congregated on the steps of the State Capital to demand a moderate nominee from the Bush Administration. Chanting, 'Ho Ho, Hey Hey, A Moderate's the Only Way!' Women listened to speakers from the Feminist Majority, United Farmworkers, Tennessee NOW, National NOW and others. Women marched across legislative plaza in parade fashion carrying NOW signs and chanting 'Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Extremist Pigs Have Got to Go!' and 'A Woman for Justice, Justice for Women!' The rally, which lasted for about an hour, was organized after the announcement of the resignation of O'Connor and was the largest pro-choice rally in Tennesse in several years.
Dorothy Abbot, of Memphis, said she is supportive of women's rights, "I am here at the NOW Conference because I have been supporting NOW for twenty years. It is a very important day today because I feel like Justice O'Connor has done so much for women. I want to make sure they replace her with someone who supports the things that we support here at this NOW Conference."

Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American Woman elected to the United States Senate, spoke on the rights and responsibilities of Senators in the nomination process, "Aricle One of the US Constitution calls on the Senate to advice and consent the President. That means the Senators have a responsibility to advise the President and consent him in his choice. I believe we can make a difference in how the Senator discharge their responsibility. Whether they actually participicate and push forward a replacement who is a moderate and who is a centrist who will represent all Americans and not just a far-right wing. No bird can fly with just one wing, you have to have them both. We need someone who will represent the highest values of our democracy and that is what is at stake right now."

Braun praised the leadership of Tennessee NOW for organizing a rally so quickly, "Today in less than 24 hours women have come together to have a demonstration in front of the Tennessee legislature. This is a powerful showing of the importance of this decision to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Over seventy five years ago right here in Tennessee a woman made a difference that we can feel even today. Harry Burn's mother wrote his son and told him to vote for ratification. When Burn got his mother's letter he changed his vote and now we all enjoy the vote because of the power of that woman. The point I want to make is that we don't know and we will never know who talked to Burn's mother or who inspired her to write the letter that changed history."

She also said that women can make a difference, "Each and every woman here today, every person here today can be that anonymous voice that changes history. We will not be dictated to by the right. We won our liberties, our freedom, and the future of our country is at stake and we will not go back. We must talk to our neighbors and friends and legislators and we let them know that we are serious and commtted and focused and organized. We will not fall prey to the old divide and conquer. We will come together as they have never seen before. We will not go back. We will become those voices for change. We will speak to our President and remind him that he has an obligation to represent all of us. The Supreme Court is not a place for partisan politics. Ronald Reagan gave us Sandra Day O'Connor and she became a moderate that kept balance in the courts. George Bush can do no less. We demand no less. Never underestimate the power of a woman."

Rally Demands a Moderate Nominee

Eleanor Smeal, of the Feminist Majority, said that she was going to spread the message that women are not going to go backwards, "We have to raise such a loud voice that Senator Bill Frist hears it. We have to make sure that this majority leader knows he cannot turn back the clock on women's rights. We have to make sure that every woman in this State of Tennessee tells Bill Frist 'No, you won't make us go back!' We need a moderate, centrist Supreme Court. He has to know if he has any Presidential visions that he can't be known as the majority leader that rolled back Roe v Wade. We are going to have a long, hot summer, but we must be at every Sentaor's office. They are going to vote to roll back the clock, not just on aboriton but also on birth control too. Just this month introduced in both houses was a bill that would regulate and restrict access to birth control for minor women, that is just the beginning. They are not just after abortion, they are after family planning. We have everything on the line, we have to tell our allies that this time women will not be marginalized in the debate, we we will take the center of the debate. This is the time that we have to mobilize. I know this decision was handed down so NOW could move immediately. We are going to spread the message forward."

Alicia Daley, Associate Publisher of MS Magazine, said she was there supporting women from her generation, "This is our generation's fight. We grew up with Roe V Wade. We are not going to stand back and let these rights be taken away from us. MS is on the forefront of these issues and we have just released a special urgent report telling you what is at stake in this fight for the Supreme Court, how you can talk to your friends and neighbors about this and how to get them involved at the grassroots level. You can fight back and not let your rights be taken away."


Allendra Letsome, of the National Young Feminist Task Force, said that it was up to women to preserve their rights, "How many of you have heard the phrase I'm not a feminist but. . . if you were born after 1973 you are a feminist by birth period. The rights that you and I have were bought by the women before us fighting the indignities that they had to face. They don't ask that we know who they were or what they did, all they ask is that we don't lose ground. These are our rights, these are our constitutional rights. These will always be our rights. Even with all of that, the government is still very concerned about our uterus, they are still trying to get into our ovaries. They spend a lot of time and energy on this fight and a lot of them think that we can't win. If we lose, if any of the gains we have made are lost it won't be because of the government, it won't be because of Roe V Wade, it will be because of us. It will be our 'I don't have the time for this' mentality, it will be the 'I am not a feminist but . . .' I am not telling you to take a side, that is your decision. I just want you to recognize that these are your rights and take a stand."

Dolores Huerta, a founding member of the United Farmworkers, said she is a great grandmother and she is pro-choice, "I am a feminist and I was born in 1930. I am a seventy five year old great-grandmother. I want to make a call to all great-grandmothers out there that this is our fight. We have to act now. I am the Catholic mother of eleven children and I am for choice. It is every woman's right to decide how many children she wants to have, a human right, a Constitutional right, you have to give us a judge that will uphold our Constitutional rights and the human rights of all women."
This work is in the public domain.


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