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Longtime Activist Reflects on Women's March, Boston

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Sheila (in tyvek haz mat suit/p*ssy hat) with Jean Miller, Mimi Turchinetz
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This is #9 in my ongoing series*, "Signs of Sisterhood" about the Women's Marches that took place on January 21, 2017, on the heels of President Trump's inauguration. I'm keeping this coverage of this historic event going in order to keep the energy and momentum alive during these challenging times.

My guest today is former college professor and long-time activist, organizer and writer Sheila Parks.

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Sheila Parks
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Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Sheila. I understand that you participated in the Boston Women's March. It was only a month ago but it feels like a lot longer. Tell us about it, please. Why did you take part?

Sheila Parks: Hi, Joan, it's so nice to be here with you. I could not have not gone. For so many different reasons. First, of course, I took part because i am an ardent socialist feminist. I have been calling out and working against world-wide misogyny since the seventies. And now that Trump has given permission for all the misogyny that was always there, including in the left and progressive movements, to be public - the misogyny is apparent to many who never saw it before. That is good. Out in the open. And so I wanted to be part of that march, to be there with my body.

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I have been out in the streets marching for many decades. My first big march was at the 1963 "I have a dream" march with Martin Luther King. It was such a wonderful and peaceful day. The radio was filled with commentators saying do not go, it will be very violent. It was more peaceful than when I was standing in line back in NYC waiting for a bus. I fell in love then with big marches. Although it is hard to tell how big any march is going to be beforehand.

And then in the seventies, when I was very active and part of the Catholic Left, one of my biggest lessons came from Liz McAlister and Phil Berrigan - take the struggle to the streets. And that remains true for me to this day.

I was at the 1982 march in NYC against nuclear weapons. That one was so large, we never marched. We literally sat in the streets and rejoiced. I got arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience the next day. My first time.

Two young feminists. Signs read: 'BFFs for Equality'
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JB: And now?

SP: So now back to the women's march after my brief herstory on big marches. The war against women is so enraging, oppressive and murderous, literally - especially against women of color - that I wanted to be part of a public stand and say how despicable vile wicked immoral disgusting misogyny is. And women and our allies are fighting back now very strongly and publicly. There were lots of men at the march and children and babies. People of all ages and diverse.

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I took part because I wanted to wear a pussyhat with lots of others wearing pussyhats. I continue to wear one very often. I am looking for a summer style with a brim. Did you know that for a while before the march the whole country was out of pink wool?

Signs read: 'Boston She Party' and 'Mother By Choice'
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JB: What a fabulous political factoid, Sheila!

SP: I took part because I wanted to stand up publicly to say NO to the many many restrictive laws against abortion rights, restrictions that continue to grow and be voted in by state legislatures. I wanted to stand up publicly for Roe v. Wade. I wanted to stand up publicly for birth control and all other health care for women. I wanted to stand up publicly for women owning our own bodies. I wanted to stand up publicly for all the grassroots feminist groups and for Planned Parenthood, Naral, Now, Feminist Majority, Ms. Do you know that I protected the abortion clinics with my body in Boston and Brookline for many years? Your readers can read about it here : "We Remember: Abortion Clinic Violence is Nothing New."

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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