This is what I posted earlier today in the aftermath of yesterday’s Unite Against the War on Women Rally in our Facebook organizing page:
Sherry, Nanette, Kelly, Katie, Becky, Gemma, and everybody else: just wanted to say that as you can imagine, I’ve been involved in a lot of protest demonstrations for more than 4 decades and what you made happen in such a short time span was outstanding. The effect it had on all the participants is part of a new wave of feminist activism whose effect will be felt for many years to come in the movement. Past rejuvenating waves like this I saw in 1989 after the Supreme Court’s Webster decision and again in 1991 with the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas hearings. You all can be very proud of your role at this historical moment.
There are occasions when you know instantly that you’ve met people who will become friends for the rest of your life. Yesterday was one of those days. The women I met yesterday are exemplified in spirit by Joe Hill’s (famous Industrial Workers of the World organizer) song about Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (which I first heard when sung by my old friend Joanna Cazden):
There are women of many descriptions
In this queer world, as everyone knows.
Some are living in beautiful mansions,
And are wearing the finest of clothes.
There are blue blooded queens and princesses,
Who have charms made of diamonds and pearl;
But the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.
That’s the Rebel Girl, that’s the Rebel Girl!
To the working class she’s a precious pearl.
She brings courage, pride and joy
To the fighting Rebel Boy.
We’ve had girls before, but we need some more
In the Industrial Workers of the World.
For it’s great to fight for freedom
With a Rebel Girl.
Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor,
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl;
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.
Attorney Sherry Lear: in a sequence of serendipitous events beginning a few years back, a private investigator buddy refers Sherry to me as she needs to some work nearby (we both operate out of the Los Angeles South Bay). I’d never met her in person; everything was over the telephone or by email. So a few weeks ago, I get an email from Sherry about my being in the National Organization for Women and can I help with getting support for the Unite Against the War Against Women rally. Can I ever! Haven’t had this much fun since last year’s Los Angeles Slutwalk [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/06/06/new-face-new-wave-of-feminism/]!
So Sherry has hooked up with Nanette Harrison, Kelly Lett, Katie German and a whole bunch of other fabulous feminists out of pent up reaction (revulsion maybe?) to all of the seriously sick and twisted attacks on women, from MCPs (Male Chauvinist Pigs) like Rush Limbaugh calling a woman who supports birth control a slut to the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that have attacked everything from birth control and women’s health services to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, authored originally by then-Senator Joe Biden).
Old Friends in a small world….
So naturally I get on the horn and beat the drums to see who I can get to help out with the rally and my private investigator friend and colleague Becky Altringer steps up to the plate to help with event security and on top of it all, brings in Gemma Beristain, a private patrol operator who gets her employees to work the security detail with us. Gemma’s company is PBI–Picore Beristain Initiative, Inc. and she’s got a great crew of people.
When I see who also shows up at the rally, it starts to seem like a reunion of sorts with political blasts from the past.
One of the slated speakers was Blase Bonpane, founder of the Office of the Americas, a human rights group that deals with issues throughout the Western Hemisphere. Blase and I go way back. I was his grad assistant in 1978 while working my way through graduate school. Blase also covered for me as my professor, when I needed an excuse to obtain the home addresses and contact information for the employees of a guard service I was working for (I was an organizer for Local 1 of the American Federation of Guards) on the pretext that I was going to do a survey for my term paper.
Blase is a giant of a figure in history. As a Maryknoll Priest in Guatemala in the 50s, he was organizing the indigenous and oppressed until the progressive regime of Jacobo Arbenz was ousted by an Eisenhower ordered CIA overthrow of the government. When he refused to stop supporting the progressive forces, Blase was ordered defrocked by the Catholic Church and expelled from Guatemala. He then went to Peru, where he administered Catholic sacraments, prompting the Pope to order him excommunicated. Having nothing left to lose, he married a nun, Sister Teresa, and that really pissed off the church!
There’s a lot I can say about Carol Downer but the bottom line is, she is the founder of the pro-choice and women’s health activism movement in Los Angeles, and that doesn’t come close to saying it all. Check out the Wikipedia article which says it better:
Angel and Argentina Luevano (Argentina is Natl VP Far West of NLLAC) joined me at the rally and staffed our Same Page/Misma Pagina Coalition (SFV/NELA NOW, California League of Latin American Citizens, California LULAC Institute, and Todos Unidos) table, signing up potential members and volunteers and distributing literature. Angel spoke to the assemblage about his experiences working for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor and how his lawsuit resulted in the “Luevano Consent Decree” which established equal opportunity standards for women and minorities in federal employment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu%C3%A9vano_v._Campbell).
Jan probably doesn’t remember this but I met her around 1998 when she was in charge of the Census 2000 Outreach Project for the City of Los Angeles at a monthly breakfast of the South County Labor coalition of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Today, Jan is the only woman on Los Angeles’s 15 member City Council and a candidate for Mayor. Yesterday, she was the only City official to personally show up to demonstrate her support for our movement.
There’s much to tell about Heather [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/01/20/update-on-her-royal-majesty/] that you’ve just got to check out the link to my last blog about her. It’s great to have followed Heather’s progress in life from passionate high school feminist activist to where she was yesterday, covering the rally for the Los Angeles Post [http://www.thelosangelespost.org/about-us-3/contributors/].
There really is no conclusion to this blog posting because what happened yesterday is a new beginning in a new wave of activism. If there is one thing I can suggest however, is that if you think you can be complacent about your rights and your liberties without being an activist, guess again. There is a war going on in America. It’s a great cultural war in which control freaks and religious fanatics are trying to turn the clock back about 60 years, if not more. You can enlist in the cause of women’s liberation or you can stand on the sidelines and watch as your right to control the uses of your own body slip away.