PO Box 542
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
A new Republican President had just been sworn into office. His campaign spent degrading and disrespecting women, the disabled, Muslims, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants. Hell hath no fury, like millions of women scorned. They organized and mobilized around the globe, the largest day of collective action focused on standing up for decency, in recorded history. There was no exception for Walla Walla.
Hundreds of women, of all ages, poured into the streets of downtown to proclaim their support for women and others who were facing injustice and inequality. “Last year’s event was fueled, in no small part, by sorrow and fear,” march spokesperson Nancy Monacelli said. “Last year’s march completely outstrips our wildest dreams in terms of attendance and will be a hard act to follow,” she added.
One year later, the political climate has only been filled with more vitriol. We’ve observed the political attacks on women’s healthcare, a deepening of pay inequality for women and the rise of the #MeToo movement. We’ve also seen the GOP Administration attempt to institute a Muslim ban, announce a ban on Trans folks from serving in our military, refer to “very fine people” marching through the streets with white supremacists, break our nation’s promise to Dreamers, and make the racist notion that we need more white & less brown and black immigrants. This change in the trajectory and tone of our national politics has fueled grassroots anger and frustration, especially from those on the left.
We’ve also seen women across the nation, historically change our politics. They have mobilized, organized and ran for public office. They’ve unseated incumbents and even given transwomen leadership responsibilities like never before. Women are standing up to demand change on all levels and many say it’s a refreshing change to the cancerous partisanship we have seen recently. Once again, Walla Walla is no exception.
“If we have been reminded of anything in the past few years, it is that browbeating, name calling and bullying do not belong in our civic discourse,” Monacelli said. “We have chosen to support at-risk communities in a positive, rather than negative, fashion. We want to concentrate on what are for, rather than what we are against.”
“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate,” Monacelli quoted from South African Theologian Desmond Tutu. “So, we have chosen not to view our fellow community members as the enemy,” Monacelli said of the organizer’s desire to reset the political tone. Organizers say they encourage the community to come together to support women (and other at-risk populations). They believe everyone can find a reason to march for women or those they love.
Organizers are also encouraging the community to bring positive signs and posters that support women or other at-risk communities. While they support the peaceful exercise of free speech, they are encouraging the community to convey positive, affirming and inclusive messages on their signs. They convey that this is a march for women and other vulnerable populations and not necessarily a protest. Those who wish to protest, will be welcome but organizers insist on peaceful protest.
They also hope to use the event to help homeless women and children being served at the temporary women’s shelter. Attendees are also encouraged to bring hygiene and personal care products which will be donated to the shelter. Gifts can also be made online through the Walla Walla United Way website at https://www.myregistry.com/giftlist/wwwomenchildcenter.
The route of this year’s march will be the same as last year. It will begin in the main parking lot at First Congregational Church at 10am on Saturday, January 20, 2018. A number of local leaders will speak about the importance of empowering each other and the plight faced by vulnerable populations. The march, with police escort, will go down Alder, turn right onto 4th, take a right onto Main Street and right onto Palouse to return back to the church. The community is encouraged to participate in any or all of the march. Organizer’s believe the event is a great civics engagement for children and encourage parents to bring their young ones.
“We hope to have a great turnout to once again emphasize that Walla Walla values inclusivity that benefit all aspects of our community,” Monacelli said. Organizers are asking participants to come a few minutes early and to carpool if possible. Parking will not be allowed in the main church parking lot.
Brandon has worked in journalism and media for over a decade in various capacities. The highlights of his career include documenting the evolution of queer culture in the American south, and covering politics and government on the Texas border. Brandon lives in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.