Equality recognized through march, Women’s Day


Equality recognized through march, Women’s Day

By Sophia Phillips

DeKALB — Students, staff and DeKalb community members joined together Wednesday in the MLK Commons to rally for equality in celebration of the DeKalb Day Without a Woman.

The DeKalb Day Without a Woman, which was held on the annual International Women’s Day, was part of a national movement created by the women who organized the Jan. 21 Women’s March. Organizers encouraged women to take the day off of work and supporters to wear red in solidarity and shop only at locally, women- and minority-owned businesses.

DeKalb Day Without a Woman was organized by DeKalb Rise UP. In addition to the recommendations in place for the national demonstration, local organizers also suggested taking off of school and attending the rally in MLK Commons.

English graduate student Kelsey Williams founded the parent organization DeKalb Rise Up as a way to bring together activist groups from DeKalb and NIU that focus on social-justice-related work. Groups in the organization include Action Steps for America, DeKalb Area Progressives, DeKalb County Democrats, DeKalb Stands Together and NIU Young Democratic Socialists.

The rally included speakers arranged by the Student Association, a march and a chance for demonstrators to share their thoughts and opinions.

Speakers included Molly Swick, instructor of leadership, educational psychology and foundations; Judy Santacaterina, director of the bachelor of general studies program; and Chief Diversity Officer Vernese Edghill-Walden.

In her speech, Swick said movements must have support from those outside of marginalized groups for social change to be successful.

“We can accomplish this by shifting our paradigm from a society of us versus them to a society of we,” Swick said in her speech.

Edghill-Walden read a poem by Maya Angelou titled “Equality.” While she read the poem, she had the crowd say “and we will be free” every time she said the word “equality.”

After the speakers finished, Williams led the crowd in a march west on Lucinda Avenue Demonstrators turned south on Annie Glidden Road and then east on Lincoln Highway. While they marched, Williams chanted “show me what democracy looks like” and demonstrators responded with “this is what democracy looks like.”

The march continued to the intersection of First Street and Lincoln Highway, which is called “Peace Corner.” There, Williams opened the floor for demonstrators to speak.

Demonstrators read poems and voiced their opinions about equality. Among the demonstrators were NIU officials such as SA Speaker Christine Wang and President Doug Baker.

Wang discussed the sexism she has faced as SA speaker and the issues that face female leaders.

Baker, who was there with his wife Dana Stover, spoke about the important women in his life. He noted that he was wearing a tie feminist Gloria Steinem had signed for him.

Williams said she understood what A Day Without a Woman meant when she saw that the lights around the Statue of Liberty went out Tuesday night.

“To see that black hole of that very well known female figure, that is symbolic when it comes to American ideals and American culture and history, just completely missing from the New York skyline; it kind of hit home,” Williams said.