LIVING FOR CHANGE
Women Creating Caring Communities
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, March 27-April 2, 2011
Saturday, March 19, I participated in an awesome celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Over the years I have participated in many IWD celebrations. But this celebration , hosted by the UAW, was historic because it was organized to connect women who are active in the union with women who are active in the community.
UAW International Rep Connie Leak headed the Planning committee and chaired the event. Adrienne Brown, who facilitated last year’s 2nd USSF in Detroit, co-chaired.
Veteran organizer and UAW vice-president Cindy Estrada began the program with a feisty speech. She spoke about her mother and grandmother and how her parents had taught her never to forget where you came from. The time has come , she said, to empower women in the UAW, re-establish the sacredness of community relationships, ask questions of and listen to each other, and thus to grow our souls
I then described how the women’s movement has changed over my lifetime, My mother,who was born in a Chinese village in 1890, never learned to read or write because there were no schools for females in her village. But it wasn’t only China. When I was born in 1915 in this country, American women still did not have the right to vote, even though they had been struggling for it since the middle of the 19th century. Sojourrner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a woman?” speech was made at a women’s rights convention in 1853.
That’s why we struggled for equal rights in the first half of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the civil rights movement in the 1950-60s raised fundamental questions about what it means to be a human being that we began to recognize and emphasize that women’s ways of knowing and relating (through the heart) and of working (not always counting the hours) are urgently needed to humanize our entire society.
Grassroots participants then told stories of how women are creating caring communities and individuals.
Gloria Moya from the UAW Ford Department said she was thankful for the energy and spirit of the ancestral mothers who endowed her with the strength and courage to be resilient and continue to move forward in struggle.
Ann Heler entertained and challenged us with her lively story of creating FernCare. a free health clinic in Ferndale “Don’t think you are void of the power to create much needed services in your communities. A small group of dedicated people can make it happen. You can do it!”
Kim Sherobbi, who recently retired after teaching for 25 years in Detroit Public Schools, reminded us that everyone in the community is an educator.
Lottie Spady talked about the Digital Information program that the East Michigan Environmental Action Council has launched because we all have the human right to be connected to one another in our communities and all over the world.
Joan Moss and Kim Hodges:described how Time Banking provides us with ways to share our time and our skills, and thus redefine our humanity as interdependent and at the same time better the whole community.
Myrtle Thompson-Curtis told us how she and her husband started Feedom Freedom Growers on Manistique St. to reconnect their families and at the same time extend themselves to the greater family of the whole community. She brought copies of their newsletter with stories of how their community garden re-educates, re-defines and challenges everyone, from little children to elders, to re-examine our humanity in order to create a more sustainable world.
Gloria House and Janice Fialka-Feldman shared their poems
As we listened to these stories and poems, we realized that, together, we had discovered the power within ourselves to create the world anew.