Women’s March: Topeka, Kansas by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

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From left, Ken Lassman, Dot Nary, and Norman White

So many Goddard students and faculty participated in the January 21st Women’s March in marches across the country. This series highlights some of those marches. Here is faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s account of the march in Topeka, Kansas:

Topeka, Kansas drew over 5,000 people, and featured an impressive array of speakers — a state senator, disabilities rights scholar and activist, Muslim-American writer, Planned Parenthood director, native American climate-change scholar, transgender activist, and a fabulous women’s band called The Skirts. I also was honored to be asked to speak, and I dedicated my reading today one of our local heroes, Dr. Josie Norris, who has helped thousands (tens of thousands perhaps) women do right by their bodies and babies by founding the Topeka Birth and Women’s Center (where our three kids were born). I shared two poems, including one I wrote especially for the event:

Dedications

This is for your grandmothers and mine,

Caryn after reading her poems, photo by Collin MacMillan

Caryn after reading her poems, photo by Collin MacMillan

one who left a Midwestern home where she was abused

to work in a Brooklyn button factory and make a new life,

the other who boarded a ship at nine years old,

not knowing from English or America,

to escape the pogroms that killed her mother.

This is for your mothers and mine, who joined with

My friend Rachel Black speaking truth to power
My friend Rachel Black speaking truth to power

other suburban moms to fill buses with their children

so we could march against the Vietnam War,

and who taught me that be a woman meant to be a feminist.

This is your aunts and mine who gave up a singing career

for marriage because she had to choose, and this

is for your daughters and mine, who never had to think twice

about belting out her songs on the streets and in the clubs.

This is for your nieces and mine, who were abandoned

at railway stations in India but made it through the needle’s eye

to an adoptive family in Missouri where they found

love, education, and a future. This is for your sons and mine

who grew up washing dishes and laundry, and learning to use

their privilege to hold open the door of justice and opportunity

for those previously locked out. This is for the men we love—

your husbands, friends, allies, coworkers and nephews, and mine—

who stepped back to make room for us to step forward,

who have asked instead of answering, who are here today

in body or spirit, ready and already breaking open their hearts

alongside and because of us. This is for your sisters

of origin, of choosing, of fate and mine, all of our beloveds

who keep turning the trauma of sexual abuse,

the micro and macro violations of catcalls in the street

or silencing in the office, and the fear storms that come

from not having enough safety, food, shelter, healthcare

and access into a greater capacity to march or roll,

to speak solo and in chorus, to love who we are called to love

with our widest and deepest dedication to this life,

the generations before and ahead. This is for us:

this moment of knowing how alive we are,

and how this life is rising in us and raising us up

together from this moment on.

I also read “I Will Not Be Afraid of Women,” which you can find right here.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Topeka, Kansas

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This entry was posted in Activism, Community Building, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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