March for Black Women in San Diego – Camille Yim

Camille Yim

Hist 128

 

A New Era

 

On March 10, 2019, the March for Black Women event took place in Eastern San Diego from Logan Avenue to Kennedy Park.  The first march of this kind occurred last year as a response on the grassroots level to the 2017 national March for Black Women in Washington D.C.  Women in San Diego felt inspired to outwardly address the specific struggles that Black women in San Diego continue to face today and show appreciation to the major and little everyday acts that Black women preform in their community.  What makes this year’s march so special is that it marks 400 years of the presence of black women in America since the first enslaved Africans arrived in 1619.  About 400+ people marched for various reasons as Nyshia Green-Washington, one of the co-organizers of the event, explained that,

“Black women’s lives are at risk every day. From teenage girls being thrown by police officers in schools to our trans sisters being killed in the streets—it is time our existence is truly respected. Real respect comes in the form of respecting our bodies; ending rape, deportation, and incarceration; ensuring everyone has health care; and prioritizing economic justice for low-income black women.”[1]

So why choose to address this March?  I am not writing about it so I can summarize what you know about African American history or tell you what others are arguing regarding racial inequalities.  I am telling you that this march is securing and protecting the lives of future black women in San Diego and at large.

First, let me ask you a question.  Think of the first black figure who comes to mind.  Was it a man or a woman?  Bernice Barnette, a scholar, took a survey asking leaders and activists who they considered the most important figures during the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968.  She found that of the 81 black leaders people named, 72.8% were men, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. considered as the most important.[2]  Do not get me wrong, Dr. King is a noteworthy figure who absolutely deserves the recognition he receives, but he did not do it all alone.  While ministers like Dr. King took on the roles of the physical face and voice of many movements, the “invisible heroes” were black women.  They often took on roles in education as schoolteachers, college professors, and students.  They were also prominently involved in leading clubs, associations, and organizations. Their engagement with the movement kept black masses informed, the black community involved, and momentum in the progress of equal rights.

The Civil Rights movement was a major time of black activism pushing towards equality.  Black women were heavily important figures whom received nowhere near the recognition they deserved.  Women like Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, Harriet Tubman, and Ida B. Wells are just a few public advocators who were essential to organizing events as well as crucial to training the up and coming generation of activists.  Septima Clark, Bernice Robinson, Dorothy Cotton, were just a few Black women educators that worked with the adult crowd by teaching illiterate black adults how to read and write.  As Barnette mentioned, that without educators like them acting as behind-the-scenes leaders, moments like the 1965 Voting Rights Act would have been a meaningless step towards the aim for equal rights if the majority of the potential voting applicants would not have passed the literacy test in order to actually qualify for the right to vote.[3]  Black women in the past have done their part for the black community by fighting for the African American life and culture as a whole.  Today they continue to push towards equality, and beyond this, call for the gender specific rights of black women.

The courage from women who have taken on activist roles in vulnerable times, during the Civil Rights Movement especially, has inspired women, like Kelsey Daniels and Nyshia Green-Washington, two of the many co-organizers of the March for Black Women in San Diego to start movements of their own.  In the journal article, “Revolutionary Black Women’s Activism: Experience and Transformation,” some interviewed women activists strongly believe that, “racial movements at the time served as the initial awakening of their political socialization.”  A major part of a march like this one in San Diego evolves partially from the inspiration of previous activists, which then perpetuates feelings of accomplishment.  Neville and Hamer describe in their journal that experiences in the realm of activism, “instilled in the women a sense of efficacy that they could make a difference.”[4]  The notion that women activists inspire others, which is propagated through efficacy is an important concept that demonstrates how the past has planted seeds of inspiration for today, which in turn plants seeds of inspiration for future generations to come.  Ka’jah Peterson, a woman at the march said, “Once you realize how easy it is to be a part of these things. When you see it on the news it’s kind of scary but when you’re actually here you realize that everyone just wants the same thing. Everyone just want more people to be aware.”[5]  Her statement shows that inspiration comes from taking on the role.

The March for Black Women is part of a larger aspect, being that we are in a new era.  It is an era where since the African American ethnicity and culture is more widely accepted, black women feminists today are able to cultivate the seeds that were not yet able to fully mature.  For African American life, history, and culture, this march signifies a statement telling America that black women have not submitted to gender-based racial inequalities.  This march was the initial push to solving this problem that black women in any era has always been aware of and fighting.  Sheila Robinson, an older resident who pushed her grandson through the march, addressed that there are not many places in San Diego for black women to come together and support one another.[6]  The positive outcome of the march created opportunities for the community to address overdue injustices so that they can create a life of equal opportunity and security.  This year Daniels, a co-organizer, announced in response to the impressive involvement, that they are going to create interactive workshops for women to learn to advocate for themselves in the work force, and organize solution-driven open forums where women can talk about health-care issues.[7]  Their strategy is all about creating opportunity to keep the people to feeling actively heard and involved, because that is the source of strength where any kind of change comes from.

Even in a fight for their own gender specific rights, these black women activists are still supporting every kind of person in the community.  As Ka’jah Peterson put it, “I think the march is representing how we should have respect for everybody and support what they do. It might not be Black Power or women’s justice, but justice for everybody.”5  That to me just shows the true strength of black women.

A photo of the 2019 March for Black Women in San Diego by Crystal Page.[8]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Barnett, Bernice McNair. “Invisible Southern Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: The Triple Constraints of Gender, Race, and Class.” Gender and Society 7, no. 2 (1993): 162-82. http://0-www.jstor.org.sally.sandiego.edu/stable/189576.

 

Mento, Tarryn. “A Weekend Summit, March To Honor Black Women In San Diego.” KPBS Public Media. March 8, 2019. Accessed May 05, 2019. https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/mar/08/weekend-summit-march-unite-black-women-san-diego/.

 

Neville, Helen A., and Jennifer F. Hamer. “Revolutionary Black Women’s Activism: Experience and Transformation.” The Black Scholar 36, no. 1 (2006): 2-11. http://0-www.jstor.org.sally.sandiego.edu/stable/41069186.

 

Page, Crystal.  “A Weekend Summit, March To Honor Black Women In San Diego.” 2019. Photograph. Southeastern, San Diego, https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/mar/08/weekend-summit-march-unite-black-women-san-diego/

 

Peterson, Karla. “Why the March for Black Women San Diego Is Hitting the Streets.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 8, 2019. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/columnists/karla-peterson/sd-me-karla-march-for-black-women-san-diego-20190308-story.html.

 

Solis, Gustavo. “March for Black Women San Diego Grows from Event to Movement.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 29, 2019. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/south-county/sd-me-black-women-march-201903011-story.html.

 

Writer01. “March For Black Women Draws Diverse Crowd.” The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint. Accessed April 8, 2019. https://sdvoice.info/march-for-black-women-draws-diverse-crowd/.

 

 

 

[1] Writer01. “March For Black Women Draws Diverse Crowd.” The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint. Accessed April 8, 2019. https://sdvoice.info/march-for-black-women-draws-diverse-crowd/.

 

[2] Barnett, Bernice McNair. “Invisible Southern Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: The Triple Constraints of Gender, Race, and Class.” Gender and Society 7, no. 2 (1993): 162-82. http://0-www.jstor.org.sally.sandiego.edu/stable/189576.

 

[3] Barnett, Bernice McNair. “Invisible Southern Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: The Triple Constraints of Gender, Race, and Class.” Gender and Society 7, no. 2 (1993): 162-82. http://0-www.jstor.org.sally.sandiego.edu/stable/189576.

 

[4] Neville, Helen A., and Jennifer F. Hamer. “Revolutionary Black Women’s Activism: Experience and Transformation.” The Black Scholar 36, no. 1 (2006): 2-11. http://0-www.jstor.org.sally.sandiego.edu/stable/41069186.

 

[5] Writer01. “March For Black Women Draws Diverse Crowd.” The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint. Accessed April 8, 2019. https://sdvoice.info/march-for-black-women-draws-diverse-crowd/.

 

[6] Solis, Gustavo. “March for Black Women San Diego Grows from Event to Movement.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 29, 2019. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/south-county/sd-me-black-women-march-201903011-story.html.

 

[7] Mento, Tarryn. “A Weekend Summit, March To Honor Black Women In San Diego.” KPBS Public Media. March 8, 2019. Accessed May 05, 2019. https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/mar/08/weekend-summit-march-unite-black-women-san-diego/.

 

[8] Page, Crystal.  “A Weekend Summit, March To Honor Black Women In San Diego.” 2019. Photograph. Southeastern, San Diego, https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/mar/08/weekend-summit-march-unite-black-women-san-diego/

 

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