Hear our Vote: Voices of Resistance Rally scheduled for Jan 20
–The Women’s March San Luis Obispo (WMSLO) is planning a “Hear Our Vote – Voices of Resistance” rally on Jan 20 at the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. The rally is designed to engage and empower voters to support women’s rights, human rights, social and environmental justice, and to encourage participation in 2018 midterm elections. The San Luis Obispo rally will be one of many state, national and international events honoring the movement that brought out 5 million marchers worldwide on Jan 21, 2017 in what is considered the largest single-day demonstration in United States history.
“We will gather to reaffirm our commitment to building a positive and just future for all, and to celebrate the spirit of resistance efforts over the past year,” said organizer Dawn Addis. “We understand the power of unity, and we need to show that strength at the polls.”
“We are fortunate to live in a community that has a large number of organizations and individuals committed to creating transformative social change. Our rally speakers will represent voices of resistance. Their advocacy is aligned with our Unity Principles – ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, Indigenous people’s rights and environmental justice,” said Jen Ford. Confirmed speakers include Maria Larios-Horton, the Director of Multilingual and Migrant Education Programs for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District; Lisa Graystone, an advocate for people with disabilities; and Natalie Risner, the co-chair of the Coalition to Protect SLO County.
The rally will include performances by local musicians and poets. Dian Sousa, a former San Luis Obispo Poet Laureat, and Samba Loca, a high energy percussion group, are among returning artists. Terry Parry, the arts coordinator, said, “The beauty of art is its ability to both capture our pain and deliver us from it at the same time. It connects us, heals us. It uplifts us.”
Organizers are bringing back the Call to Action Alley – a fair of local community resource centers that serve residents of the Central Coast. Any community resource centers that would like to join the Call to Action Alley are welcome to contact WMSLO at firstname.lastname@example.org
Along with the rally, WMSLO is planning several other events that will kick off the 2018 election season. “We invite women to our Practical Politics Soirée, which will take place on Jan 11 starting at 6 p.m. at The Station in San Luis Obispo,” said Andrea Chmelik. “Female elected officials – Caren Ray, Erica Reyes, Heidi Harmon and Ellen Sheffer – will talk about their experience with running for office. Our goal is to encourage women to stay politically engaged. We need women’s votes, voices and leadership if we want to see progress and true representation.”
On Jan 20–21 the History Center of San Luis Obispo County will present an interactive Women’s March SLO pop-up exhibit. Organizers are asking marchers to donate their signs from the Jan 21, 2017 Women’s March for this event. In the past year, the Women’s March SLO has partnered with a number of local groups and organized marches, vigils, educational panels, town halls, fundraisers and coalition building meetings.
“We recognize the importance of marching,” said Harris, “and in 2018 the most important march is the one to the polls.”
Those interested in attending the rally can go to the WMSLO website to register and donate. Registration is free and helps the organizers to plan accordingly. Donations go to critical expenses such as safety and support services, the cost of which increases with the number of attendees. For the latest updates, follow WMSLO on Facebook, on Twitter: @womensmarchslo, or on Instagram: womensmarchslo.