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Grant Park, Chicago, January 21, 2017

Grant Park, Looking West Jan 21 2017

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.

Sara Paretsky speaking Jan 21 2017

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.

One of 250000 strong January 21 2017

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.

Sara with women’s bookstore creators Ann Christophersen and Barb Wieser

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!!

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  • The Bag Lady

    Oh, how I wish I had been there in person to hear this speech, Sara. Yesterday was truly awe-inspiring, watching so many marches all over the world.

  • Gail Bowen

    Well done, my friend. You articulated all the reasons why the march mattered so much to so many. It was a great beginning, but as we both know, it was just a beginning. The next step is the slogging unglamorous but essential job of political organization. I’ve spent my entire adult life working for the political left.. I’ve lost far more battles than I’ve won, but the battles we won mattered. The gains are often incremental but increments do add up. As an old leftist friend of mine says, “The struggles continues, but so we do we.” Onward and thank you!

  • woofin

    thanks Sara for being a voice of passion and reason in a completely unreasonable and unbelievable time when facts and compassion and sanity have all gone by the wayside.

    “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary tweeted after Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to rebrand the Trump administration’s false statements as “alternative facts.”

  • Joni

    Sara, you have always been, and will always remain, awesome. I am proud to know you, and proud to have marched in Washington as part of the worldwide movement for women.

  • Mary Marino-Strong

    YES! Thank you both for your diligent focus, actions and courage these many years. Together, may we eventually prevail. You are both great role models.

  • Kris Monroe

    Sara, I was fortunate enough to be in the crowd Saturday in Chicago. What an amazing experience!! I was so moved by the range of humans peacefully partaking not only in Chicago, but around the world. Has something like that ever happened world wide?? Not in my 50 years!! I have always been a VI fan, but am now a Sara fan. Thank you for your voice!!

  • Morgan St. James

    Thank you Sara for speaking out so articulately and on point. There are so many in this country who had no idea what the march was about and looked at it as a bunch of silly women. I have always been a fan of your writing, and now have added to that a fan of your principles and passion.

  • Thank you all for these remarks, both generous and to the point. Knowing there are so many of us working for our rights/freedoms helps keep me going.

  • Gail Bowen

    Thank you, Mary Marino-Strong. You have no idea how good it feels to know that you are there.

  • I never feel I’m doing enough, but when we are all acting together it becomes easier. Thank you, Ms Marino-Strong

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