Mother's Day March for Choice - May 8, 2022
On Mother's Day, Sunday, May 8th, 2022, the Dekalb County Democrats planned a peaceful march in protest of the far-right extremists who are taking over our government and imposing their religious beliefs on all of us. Following the march, we gathered at the gazebo in the town park for speeches and discussion.
There were 28 attendees.
We counted 18 supportive gestures (thumbs up, cheering, honking and waving, etc) from passing drivers - in rural Alabama!
Here is the text of my speech:
I’m going to speak to you about the past - and future - of Mother’s Day.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe – an abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation with the intention of beginning what I would call a Day of Rage. A day of protest. A day of unity for women, recognition of our needs, not simply a day to say that moms are great. Her original Mother’s Day Proclamation read,
Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.
So we can see what Julia Ward Howe wanted Mother’s Day to be about, at least. And how much faith she had in men to be allowed to continue to make all the decisions.
Fast forward a few decades. Anna Jarvis was a pioneer in her time by being an educated, successful career woman and an investor in the time before women took back our human rights to own property, choose who we marry and if and when we bear children, and make our own legal, financial and medical decisions without a man’s permission, human rights which had been taken from us by the men in control of society for thousands of years. Anna wanted to establish Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate women and mothers, moved by a statement her own mother, social activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, had once made:
“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial Mother’s Day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”
It may come as no surprise to you that this version of Mother’s Day was more palatable to the general public, and it took off, being established as a national holiday several years later by president Woodrow Wilson.
Near the end of her life, Anna Jarvis actually began a petition to rescind the holiday she had essentially created. Others had commercialized the holiday and commodified its symbols, profiting from it and cheapening it while she tried in vain to keep it true to its original meaning and fell into poverty. Her effort to do away with Mother’s Day as we know it now was ended when she was placed in a sanitarium. People connected with the floral and greeting card industries paid the bills to keep her in the sanitarium.
Well, today, we are gathered here not simply to celebrate women and mothers with cards and flowers, but to honor our mothers and grandmothers who had to fight to secure the rights that WE enjoy now. To fight for the rights and the equality that our daughters and granddaughters will enjoy. To stop the men who control our society now from dragging us BACK to that time when we were prevented from making our own medical decisions without a man’s permission! To say that on Mother’s Day we do not accept shallow gestures like cards, flowers, and candy, in place of the guarantee of our equal rights as half of the human race, sovereignty over our own bodies, REAL FREEDOM.
So, to sum it up: We’re out here today instead of at brunch with our kids and our mothers because a US Supreme Court Justice, in the year 2022, wrote a decision taking away the right to decide what happens in our own bodies, a right that appallingly, we only finally secured for ourselves in the decade before I was born. In his justification for this decision, he quoted a 17th-century English Judge who wrote that women were the property of their husbands and should be correctively beaten for any deviation from their husbands’ will, and EXECUTED WOMEN FOR WITCHCRAFT. This and everything else we’ve seen from the far-right extremists taking over our government paints a clear picture of what they hope to achieve. We cannot allow it. We will not allow it. WE WILL NOT GO BACK.