Last updated on January 26th, 2019 at 12:56 pm
To see more photos, click HERE.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people, adults and children of all genders, came together in downtown Nashville on Saturday, January 19, for the third annual Tennessee Women’s March, this year staged as the #WomensWaveTN Rally. The assembled group gathered to demonstrate their support for women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, health care access and more.
The third annual “Women’s March” fell on the day of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s inauguration, held a few short blocks away, and the Metro Government interviews for the new Community Oversight Board in the Metro Courthouse on whose steps the stage was set for the Rally. The weather could have been a little better, as it started out sprinkling on a warm rainy day with high temperatures in the mid-50’s, moving into a steady downpour. Eventually the rain stopped for a time, and sun came out for an hour or so during the event, unfortunately after the crowd had dwindled to about one-third of its maximum size. This reporter even saw a rainbow in the sky on the drive home afterwards.
The event was held in tandem with other similar events elsewhere, held across the United States with common themes. Signs and chants espoused the need for political action, many of which called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and other various members of the current administration.
The crowd at Public Square Park was addressed and entertained by poets, musicians and speakers who performed and voiced their concerns and opinions surrounding the rights of women, racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and a number of other underprivileged groups in the current political climate.
The event kicked off with yoga at 12:30 followed by Sarah Hays Coomer and a welcome from Kendra Estes, Lakeithea Anderson, and Cassandra L. Anello of Power Together.
Odessa Kelly was moved up to give a keynote that energized the audience. After a performance by Maya de Vitry, Zulfat Suara of AMAC (the American Muslim Advisory Council) continued the amazing power of Black women inspiring the crowd. Mrs. Suara came with a crew in campaign t-shirts, as she announced her candidacy for Metro Council-At-Large (see the accompanying feature). Chloe Kat of Kat Milk Blu then performed, and Kathy Walsh, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence spoke about the Federal shutdown impact on domestic abuse survivor programs.
Susan Shann performed, followed by Rachel Barrow of Planned Parenthood, who spoke on Reproductive Justice, followed by Marisa Richmond, who addressed Barriers for Transgender People. After a performance by Rachel Rodriguez, Dawn Harrington of Free Hearts dealt with the topic of Women’s Incarceration, which led into Jeannie Alexander’s presentation on Incarceration and Gentrification. Dancer Tisha Wilson preceded Rev. Leslie Traylor’s talk on how Brokenness makes us strong.
Then two major highlights ensued: The Black Lives Matter presentation by Grayce Gadson, Simba Woodard, and Brittany Paschall on the Meaning of BLM, Cyntoia Brown, and Gun Violence and the spoken word performance by Adia Victoria & the Blairhouse Collective, consisting of Adia, Caroline Randall Williams and Ciona Rouse.
Elizabeth Barger, Lorri Mabry, and Sizwe Herring of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center spoke on Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, followed by Mina Shedd of DSA on Economic Justice, then a performance by Delta Rae.
Christi Rice of Enough is Enough TN spoke about Elected officials & sexual assault and harrasment of women just before Jackie Paul Sims addressed Community Oversight, followed by performer Amanda Fields. Another highlight was the fantastic presentation by Cas Coutermash, Ebony Cotton, Ashleigh Grindon, Sarah Seleh and Shivani Najhawan of the Womens March TN Youth Organizing Committee who spoke about LGBTQI Youth, and Youth Activism. The youth were amazing!
Next Kristal Knight of Emerge TN preceded a breif rundown by Tamika, Alianza Laboral Rosa Ponce AND WORKERS DIGNITY on their Legal battle with JW Marriot for over $1 million for workers on the new hotel. Graduates Rise performed before Rabbi Shana Mackler spoke on Voter engagement, coming together, just as the rain poured down really hard, after the program had run almost a half hour long, forcing the organizers to end the event, just before Dr. Kisha Simmons could speak about her Period Project, “Period Poverty” which she recorded online in the tent backstage for viewing. Dr. Kisha was a front-page feature in last week’s print edition of the PRIDE.
Meet Zulfat Suara, candidate for Metro Nashville Council-At-Large
One of the highlights of the #WomensWaveTN Rally was the announcement by Zulfat Suara that she will be a candidate for the Nashville Metro Council as an At-Large member. Suara is well-known throughout Nashville activist and conscious circles as a fearless and tireless community organizer.
“I want to give back to the community that welcomed me and gave me a professional start,” she says. “The community that gave my children an educational foundation to pursue and succeed in higher education… the community that is very dear to my heart.”
Originally from Nigeria, she moved to the United States in the 1990s. Since settling in Nashville in 1998, the city has been an incredibly special place for her and my family. Her children grew up playing at Red Caboose Park and attended Metro public schools (Brookmeade, Gover and H G Hill). She got her start in Public Accounting in Nashville when she was hired by KPMG.
“But most importantly,” she says, “it has always been the people that make our city amazing. It was Nashvillians who helped my family during incredibly difficult times: who loaned us money when we had no job, allowed us to stay in our apartment even though we didn’t have the money to pay rent, and supported us in our times of need. Though I moved away for a while, my heart had always remained here in Nashville.”
Nashville is growing with hundreds of new residents and businesses moving in everyday. “I am running to ensure that this economic growth will benefit all Nashvillians,” sha says. And she has a plan, which you can find out more detail on her campaign Facebook page or website. In brief, her three priorities are community based budgeting, increased funding to K-12 programs, and a livable wage for all workers. Visit www.zulfatsuara.com to donate or volunteer.