I am proud to represent all the women of CODEPINK whose tireless and courageous work this year has brought this recognition to me, and honored to be here with these two extraordinary women who do the work in the trenches for our children and in the constant struggle for the rights of workers. They represent for me what is needed from the women in the halls of power. And pleased to give myself to be used to bring more needed dollars to NWPC.
It is very special for me to be honored here at a Bread and Roses lunch, as it is a full circle of more than 30 years. I came into my life as a political activist with the start of the NWPC.
My junior year in high school I was a maid in one of the largest hotels in Vegas, marching in the streets for a living wage, marching in the streets against the war having lived through the violent riots of ’69 in a segregated city. I was a hippie (some will argue I still am), but turning 18 in Sept of 72 and being the first to vote at this age, I was drawn into politics. Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisolm and Betty Friedan igniting and lighting my way, out of the hellish prisons I saw held my mother and step-mother into the promise of something new, not just for women, we were going to bring all who knew the abuses of power with us. The women’s voices were strong, inspiring and set my life on a course of independence and activism.
I felt the power of a world on the verge of many changes and found myself caught up by it. Often I was the only woman in rooms full of men, and smoke.
The NWPC was a big part of my life in the 70’s while in the Brown Administration, as we brought more women, minorities and those usually left out, to high level appointments, as we worked to bring more women to the table as donors, as we worked to show there was room for more than one woman on the top, as we encouraged more participation in the process. As we carried our children to work and shared high-level positions…. and wet-nursed each other’s babies.
Early I was aware the person with money had the most power in the room, so fundraising became my skill. Unfortunately, in these 30 years, I have watched money be the only thing with power, the values that used to fill the room are now just word tools in the manipulation of more greed. I have watched the surge to the top and the slippery slope down. The cesspool that Sacramento has become, the den of thieves in the White House and a spineless Congress. How does this inspire the women we need to be active to be engaged…it can’t.
This year we learned the lowest turnout at the polls in 2000 was unmarried women. Where have we gone wrong? We can’t achieve our goals of 50% representation if those we desire to represent aren’t participating. How do we inspire them like Bella and Shirley inspired me? How do we show them we are done compromising ourselves to play in the game of money is power and ready to bring back the values and needs of our communities we once championed. It is our responsibility to name the elephant in the room or to point out that the emperor has no clothes.
How can so many elected women have voted for the resolution of a pre-emptive strike, where were we??? Why are women not leading the charge in Congress against the war-profiteers? Instead letting the money flow into the pockets of the rich away from the needs of our children, our communities and culture. Why wasn’t every women in Congress screaming FOUL when our representative in Iraq threw a bone to the fundamentalist religious leaders with a resolution that would institutionalize and legalize the repression of women or only appointed 3 women to the IRAQI governing council. There is not one woman in the 72 who are administering the transition?? Not to mention the stream of lies that continues out of the White House.
This year I marched in the streets of Baghdad and Juarez with clear and fierce women and I felt that energy of the early ‘70’s. I am daily inspired by them to get out from behind my own fears.
We are in another historic moment…when I started, faith was at it’s peak, we forced government to take moral stands, now it only answers to money. We’ve let erode the belief that government can do positive things. We have wars on drugs, on gangs, on youth and on countries of innocent people.
It is time to invoke the wild, wise, fierce voices of the women who founded the NWPC. The media fed masses are large but it takes only one drop of truth to dispel an ocean of lies. So rock the boat, don’t agree to shut up, and speak truth to power!
Add a little of the power of pink to your lives and hold those in power responsible and accountable. For the women of Juarez, Iraq and the mothers of those who are returning home in body bags from an unjust, illegal and immoral war, and to those hidden, limbless and wounded.
"As we are marching, marching in the beauty of the day...a million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts grey...are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses -- we are singing as we are marching: GIVE US BREAD BUT GIVE US ROSES..." Let the words of the song be true, that:
“The rising of the women means the rising of the race…..”