(by Bill Glahn)
If anyone is still under the illusion that the vote is the strongest tool in the democratic arsenal, consider this. Women won the right to vote without actually having the vote. History shows that it was not because a handful of elected (male) officials suddenly decided, “Oh, it’s the right thing to do.” Women won the right to vote by exercising their vocal chords and implementing their 1st Amendment rights. One should also note that it was a woman who had a national impact during the Civil Rights Movement with the simple act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus.
I didn’t march in Springfield’s Women’s March On Springfield today. It was a march organized by women to coincide with the Women’s March On Washington. It was meant to vocalize the myriad of concerns by women with a Trump presidency. A lot of the same concerns I shared, but I thought (and still think) that the women would do justice to the 1st Amendment without the aid of their male counterparts. If there is one speaker at the Women’s March on Washington that is totally out of place today it is Michael Moore. Today was an opportunity for men to give up the spotlight, sit down, shut up, let the women speak, and LISTEN.
So instead, I took my canine companion, Sally, to Park Central Square to greet the marchers and pay attention to what they were saying. It was an experience in the listening half of the conversation equation well worth the effort. As one speaker proclaimed, “An attack on the most marginalized of us is an attack on all of us.” A similar thought might have appeared some 2,000 years ago, but it’s an idea worth repeating. Over and over again. Until we get it right.
I’m a veteran of a few Springfield, Mo political marches. As a rule, they don’t (individually) amount to much, numbering in the 10s of people and, at best, the low three figures. The largest march in Springfield is the non-political annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. Which shows that, deep down at its core, Springfield is actually a very caring place. But one that’s empathy does not extend into the political arena. Nix that. “Didn’t” extend into the political arena.
There was something different about this march. You could hear the demonstrators coming into the square from Park Central East before you could see them. It was a HUGE sound. It was VIBRANT. It was LOUD. There must have been several thousand marchers. It was soooo un-Springfield-like. It was great.
Sally was nervous. It was her first time among a large gathering. Her fear and anxiety were noticeable. Probably not so much different than the marchers felt about a nation under Trump’s guidance. But she endured. We stayed for almost the entire presentation, leaving just before the crowd dispersed. And if Donald Trump and his ilk didn’t get the message, there is no one better than the greatest singer of them all to spell it out for him. Take heed, Donald. Take it away, Aretha.