August 26 was the 95th anniversary of U.S. women’s hard-won right to vote, fought for by a fierce national suffragist movement and won in 1920. To mark this historic occasion and the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and to also discuss contemporary struggles impacting poor women, working women and women of color in the U.S. and worldwide, the International Working Women’s Day Coalition held a speakout at Union Square Park in New York City. There was a major focus in words and signs on the current Black Lives Matter upsurge against rampant racism, including police terror.
The speakout was co-chaired by Coalition member KaLisa Moore from the People’s Power Assembly and Co-chair Candice Sering from Gabriela USA. Hundreds of people heard speeches and cultural performers on the growing movements to end all forms of attacks on women’s human rights, including violence, and about their political and economic exploitation rooted in capitalism and imperialism.
The speakout got off to a rousing start with longtime activist and actor, Vinie Burrows, re-enacting a famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” made at the first National Women’s Rights Conference in 1850 by Sojourner Truth, a former slave who became an activist against slavery and for women’s rights.
City Councilwoman Inez Barron spoke on a current bill up for debate, aimed at ending all secretive grand juries for cases involving police. These grand juries have overwhelmingly sided with the police whenever a person of color is killed, giving the police impunity.
Some of the other speakers represented the struggles in Puerto Rico against the debt crisis; for the ongoing efforts to free all U.S. political prisoners; in Palestine against the U.S.-backed Zionist occupation; in Mexico and the Philippines to stop repression; for transgender rights; against domestic violence, gentrification and homelessness; for $15 now! and a union; and to demand reparations for Indigenous and people of African descent.
See video highlights at: youtu.be/kRVbAMolPeY
The beautiful photos are by Claudia Palacios and Brenda Ryan.