A reflection from Jess Myers, Women’s Center director
Last weekend, I finally decided I would go to the Women’s March on Washington.
I’ve been to marches in the past. I drove 18 hours from Baltimore to Ft. Benning, Georgia in my early 20s for the School of Americas protest with a van load of Mercy nuns and my best friend. Attending college in Washington, D.C. during the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars had me popping on the Metro often enough to join an anti-war rally. My favorite Pride parades have been the ones I’ve walked in rather than watched from the sidelines. In Baltimore, I’ve marched for justice, for Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray, for Black Lives.
But, never have I marched for and with women for a platform dedicated to women’s rights.
A few weeks ago, I was in a room with several UMBC faculty members as they recalled their memories of past women’s marches. As they shared their experiences, it was evident that being in a space with thousands of other women advocating for women’s rights was a powerful moment for them. While each of the individuals who shared their stories have committed their lives to activism and feminism, those marches still held a unique and powerful place in their hearts. In fact, what was particularly striking was how they spoke about their experiences in relationship to those who were with them – their mothers, their daughters, their friends.
I want to be in relationship with other women and I’ve decided that going to this Saturday’s march is just one way I can do that. I recognize that it’s a privilege to put aside my reservations about going (really, for anyone going to the march, please read this important blog by Brittany Oliver and the other resources she’s provided at the end of her post) and I will continue to sift through the messiness and be in conversations with others about what I can do to always do better by paying attention to and learning from others.
Just as importantly, I want the momentum and energy to continue after the march, especially for those who are new to the movement, new to activism, new to seeing things that are unfair and unjust. I want us to stay loud. To stay critical. To stay visible and demand what is right, what is necessary. I want you to volunteer. I want you to keep learning and growing. I want you to find your activism (if you haven’t already) and make a difference. I want all those things for myself as well.
I want to be on a journey with others who are dedicated to ending gender inequality and living the values of social justice. The march will be a moment in time and I’m so glad I have a space like the Women’s Center to welcome others to join me once Saturday is over.
Three years ago this month, the Women’s Center unveiled a new logo – the Wye Oak Tree. This logo was intended to better represent our mission, values, and priorities, which are similar to that of the vision and principles of the Women’s March on Washington. In sharing our mission, I hope it serves as a reminder to you that the Women’s Center at UMBC works daily to advocate for and advance the rights of women and marginalized people. You are invited to join us in our work today and every day.
The Women’s Center at UMBC advances gender equity from an intersectional feminist perspective through co-curricular programming, support services, and advocacy for marginalized individuals and communities. We prioritize critical social justice as our community value, with a deliberate focus on women, gender, anti-racism, and feminism.
All are welcome as long as they respect women. Their experiences. Their stories. Their potential.
Whether you march or not, on this day and every day, in and through the work the Women’s Center does, we support you, we believe you, we see you.
Our Guiding Principles
- We will encourage authentic dialogues among students, faculty, and staff to facilitate consciousness-raising, transformative learning, and self-determination.
- We will embody our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and social justice in our operation, staffing, and programming.
- We will operate from a holistic and non-hierarchical anti-violence framework.
- We will challenge the barriers that reinforce inequity and oppression impacting our university and broader communities.
- We will cultivate women’s empowerment, involvement, and leadership in all aspects of university life.
And don’t forget:
If you’re going to the march, be sure to register!
Check out these recent podcasts from Stuff Mom Never Told You and Call Your Girlfriend for more on the history of women’s marches and details about this Saturday’s march organizers.
Stop by the Women’s Center this Friday from 11am-2pm to rally together and be in community and conversation with others – plus make a rally sign (while supplies last).