PLAINFIELD, NJ — The non-partisan League of Women Voters of New Jersey held "RBG's Legacy Rally" Saturday at duCret School of Art in Plainfield as a part of the national Women's March 2020. Organizers estimated 300 were in attendance to hear from voices defending gender, racial and economic justice, and speakers relayed quotes from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in line with their advocacy platforms.
Representatives from ACLU-New Jersey, the LUPE Fund, NJ Institute for Social Justice, the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs and the Union County Prosecutor's Office, Moms Demand Action, Planned Parenthood, Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families, Clean Water Action of NJ, NJ Re-entry Corporation, Advisory Council for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Clean Water Action of NJ, and the NAACP were among the speakers at the event. Plainfield Councilwoman Ashley Davis and Assemblywoman Linda Carter were also on hand.
But 9-year-old Charlotte Meyer, daughter of Elizabeth Meyer, founder of the New Jersey Women's March, may have received the loudest round of applause as the voice of a new generation.
Charlotte said she and her family traveled to Washington, D.C. to see Justice Ginsburg lying in repose. "Justice Ginsburg said 'Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.' Today I want to ask kids out there to join me in using your voice to create a change. I'm here because it matters what kids say. It matters what kids feel. Just because we're young, it doesn't mean we can't see the terrible things happening around us — the sickness, the discrimination, and the way people bully each other."
See more of Charlotte's speech here:
City Councilwoman Ashley Davis told the crowd, "As civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer once said, 'Nobody's free until everybody's free.' So when we talk about justice of any kind, gender justice, racial justice and economic justice, the burden of fighting for that justice rests not only with the individuals looking to achieve it, but also with the people who are privileged to already have it."
She added, "I know privilege has become a polarizing word in today's time, but the discussion around privilege is more than just race. So in the fight for justice, we need to check our privilege at the door, and use it to help the most marginalized among us."
See more of Councilwoman Davis' speech here:
LGBTQ advocate Danni Newbury, Coordinator of the Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, said her office was established in 2018, and it is the only government office in the state of New Jersey serving the LGBTQ community.
It is just one of four government offices in the country, Newbury added. "That is not good."
Newbury recited a number of reasons why We're Here:
- LGBTQ youth are over-represented in foster care.
- Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people 10 to 24-years old, and LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
- Since 2016 there have been over 150 policy attacks to the progression the country has made toward full equality for LGBTQ community.
- This year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has redefined sex in order to exclude transgender people from Federal non-discrimination protections.
- There are more than 2.7 million LGBTQ older adults who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, especially after a lifetime of experiencing discrimination and stigma.
- Racism exists, and LGBTQ people of color experience vicious discrimination.
- The LGBTQ community is not taught its history at home, in public schools, and in religious institutions.
"A vote is not a valentine," Newbury said. "You aren't confessing your love for the candidate. It's a chess move. And if there's anything that I've learned from Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy, it's that chess moves matter," noting LGBTQ issues are on the ballot.
Erin Chung is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Planned Parenthood. She is also the founder and president of Women for Progress. She utilized her time speaking at duCret to tell the stories of real women, and the importance of having access to abortion care in this country, despite age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, education and geographic location.
Iveth Mosquera, vice president of LUPE, or Latinas United for Political Empowerment, gave an overview of her group's mission, including advocacy, education, and engagement for Latinas.
"As a Latina mom, I want to make sure that the right people are in office. I want to make sure that we are well represented, as women, as Latinas. That we keep fighting for equal pay, that we keep fighting for equal treatment in healthcare."
NaSheena Porter, Esq. is an Assistant Prosecutor for Union County. She is also a diversity representative of the Young Lawyers Division of the NJ State Bar Association.
Porter told the crowd, "Recently the concept of law and order has been at the front of the zeitgeist. The irony, as it appears to me, is that those touting law and order are trying to use it like a hammer. In my experience, law and order is more like a book club. You increase membership through positive word of mouth, and the more that people by in, show up and cooperate, the more thought-provoking and constructive your book club is."
Diane DuBrule, Director of Development for ACLU-New Jersey, highlighted one of the biggest gender discrimination cases of the 1970s; Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a lawyer for plaintiff in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, and she won the case 8-0.
Other speakers included:
- Nancy Griffith, Chair of the Environmental Justice Task Force, Unitarian Universalist Faith Action; Environmental Justice Advisory Council for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection;
- Patricia Williamson, NJ Counts Project Director, NJ Institute for Social Justice. She is also a Director on the Board of the League of Women Voters of NJ;
- Vanessa Brown, NJ State Conference VP, Northern NJ Regional President Coordinator and Morris County branch President of the NAACP;
- Kathleen Dolan, Union County Outreach lead for Moms Demand Action;
- Paul Aronsohn, State Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families;
- Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action of NJ;
- Annette Scott, Certified Nurse specializing in Trauma and Psychiatric nursing who is an advocate for the NJ Reentry Corporation, providing opportunities for citizens discharged from correctional facilities, and focused on restoring voting rights and registering those on parole/probation.
A closing prayer was said by Lisa Jones Motley, founder and senior pastor, Chosen Intercessor Ministry.
Learn more about the League of Women Voters of NJ here.
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