21 January 2017
Sara Paretsky – Grant Park
I am almost 70. I have been an activist for Civil Rights and Reproductive Rights since I was 19, and there are days when I am weary with the struggle, but not today, not here, with 250,000 other Americans ready to work together to protect our rights.
I was twenty-five when the Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade. I can still remember the exhilaration of seeing that headline in the old Chicago Daily News.
For a brief, glorious moment, we had forced open a window, allowing us to breathe in freedom: we were no longer children, or chattel animals. Our sexuality was no longer controlled by husbands, fathers, churches, governments: we could decide whether and when to get pregnant. We could decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
Almost instantly furious hands began pushing that window shut. As had happened nine years earlier with the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, those who feared what free African-Americans looked like, those who feared free women, fought back.
The culmination of the war against human rights was celebrated yesterday in our nation’s capital.
I stand here today with wildly mixed feelings. It’s energizing to see so many people, especially so many young people, gathering to take up the fight for freedom.
At the same time, I am filled with a rage so large that ordinary words don’t express it. Not because of the incoming groper-in-chief –although I fear and despise him, he doesn’t rouse my fury.
My rage comes from standing here as part of a minority. 58 percent of European-Americans – 53 percent of women, 62 percent of men — voted to put this new government in place. I am with the 42 percent who voted for human rights.
Yes, there was Comey, and Putin,and Pizzagate, but they didn’t fool African-American (92 percent of voters( or Hispanic (66) or Jewish (77) voters.
58 percent of European Americans voted to defund Planned Parenthood and to privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 58 percent want everyone to drink the water that has flowed from Flint, Michigan’s taps. 58 percent want to deport Mexicans and to bar Muslims from entering our country. 58 percent voted to destabilize the Atlantic alliance, and to re-accelerate the arms race.
58 percent want all women and African-American men to retreat from personhood, back to the status of children or chattel animals.
For over four decades, those of us passionate about our freedoms have been trying to waken our friends and neighbors to the way state, local and national politicians were threatening our rights. Our words and pleas went unheeded. And the result is a Congress, a president, and many state governments bent on destroying the planet and reversing voting rights, civil rights, reproductive rights.
Now it is up to us, those of us gathered here in Chicago, those gathered in cities all over the planet, to go once more into battle for our freedoms.
We here are passionate about our Constitution. Our Constitution exists “to promote the general welfare.” Not the welfare of the one percent, but every person’s welfare. Our Constitution exists “to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
So let us go forth from this park, and from parks all across the nation, to fight again for this country and Constitution that we love. Let us secure the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity. In the words of the two people who will always be my presidents: We are Stronger Together, and YES, WE CAN!!