When the Women’s March on Washington released its “Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles” document this week, we at Daily Grab Back were pleased with the inclusivity and progressivism of the platform. In addition to recognizing the need for intersectionality and a particular focus on the needs and struggles of Black, Native, poor, immigrant, Muslim, queer and trans women, the platform also lists 27 revolutionary leaders that have paved the way for this march as having a special place of honor for #WhyWeMarch.
Bella Abzug • Corazon Aquino • Ella Baker • Grace Lee Boggs • Berta Cáceres • Rachel Carson • Shirley Chisholm • Angela Davis • Miss Major Griffin-Gracy • LaDonna Harris • Dorothy I. Height • bell hooks • Dolores Huerta • Marsha P. Johnson • Barbara Jordan • Yuri Kochiyama • Winona LaDuke • Audre Lorde • Wilma Mankiller • Diane Nash • Sylvia Rivera • Barbara Smith • Gloria Steinem • Hannah G. Solomon • Harriet Tubman • Edith Windsor • Malala Yousafzai
Believing we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about these women and the contributions and sacrifices they made in the fight for justice and freedom, DGB will be running a special five part series in the days leading up to the Women’s March on Washington honoring these remarkable and heroic women.
Bella Abzug was a women’s and civil rights activist, lawyer and politician. A child of Russian Jewish immigrants, she grew up in the Bronx. After getting her law degree at Columbia University, Bella practiced labor and civil rights law. She defended Willie McGee, a Black man who was accused of raping a white woman in Mississippi and fought to appeal his death sentence and delay his execution. She also defended many people accused of communism by Senator Joseph McCarthy. She was involved in antinuclear and peace activism, as well as women’s rights activism and helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 and served 3 terms where she became known as a fearless and outspoken champion of women’s and civil rights. We march for her.
Read more about Bella Abzug here.
Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the Philippines. After graduating from college in the United States, Cory became a mother of five and wife to Benigno Aquino, a senator and outspoken opponent of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In the 1970s, her husband was imprisoned, exiled, and upon his return to the Philippines in 1983, assassinated. Cory took on the role of leader of the opposition after her husband’s death, eventually running against Marcos in his attempt to legitimize his presidency in 1986. When she lost, amid widespread suspicion of voter fraud, she led a peaceful protest movement that became known as the People Power Revolution. Within weeks, Marcos relinquished power and fled the country, and Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines. As President she created a constitutional commission to draft a new constitution, promoted civil liberties and human rights and began to restore economic health to the Philippines. Cory declined to run again in 1992, preferring to send the strong message that President should not be a lifetime position. We march for her.
Read more about Corazon Aquino here.
Ella Baker was a Black civil rights activist who worked with many prominent people and organizations during the Civil Rights movement. Born in Norfolk, VA, in 1903, Ella grew up with a close relationship to her grandmother, who had been a slave. She graduated as valedictorian of Shaw University and moved to New York where she started the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League, a group which allowed Black workers to pool their money to get better access to goods and services. She became the national field secretary for the NAACP, eventually becoming the national director of branches. In 1957, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Ella became the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership conference, and through her work there the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was created, as well as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. We march for her.
Grace Lee Boggs
Grace Lee Boggs was a writer, civil rights activist, and philosopher. She was born in 1915 to Chinese immigrants. She earned a PhD in Philosophy at Bryn Mawr College, but struggled to find work as an academic after her graduation due to the barriers women and minorities faced in the academic world of the 1940s. After joining the Workers Party and working as a tenant organizer, she began what became her lifelong work of fighting for the civil rights of Black Americans. In 1953 she moved to Detroit and married Black activist, writer and auto worker James Boggs. She and her husband worked with Black Power organizers across the country, and later adopted Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, which she used as a guiding strategy for the rest of her life. She led marches, gave lectures on human rights, planted community gardens and founded food cooperatives, organized workers and co-founded Detroit Summer, a community transformation organization. Prominent written works include “Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,” “Women and the Movement to Build a New America,” “Living for Change: An Autobiography,” and “The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century.” We march for her.
Read more about Grace Lee Boggs here.
Berta Cáceres was a Honduran environmental activist, a co-founder and coordinator of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, and an indigenous leader of her people. She was born into the the indigenous Lenca people in Le Esparanza, Honduras, around 1971. Her mother was a midwife and humanitarian and cared for the refugees from El Salvador during the turbulent civil war in Central America in the 1970s. As a student in 1993, Berta formed COPINH, which fought against illegal logging, and the presence of the US military on Lenca land. She was a proud feminist and supported LGBT rights, as well as other progressive and indigenous issues. In 2006 Cáceres worked with a group of Lenca people to fight against the constructions of the Agua Zarca Dam on indigenous land. The dam would have cut off water, food, medicines and supplies to the hundreds of indigenous people that called that land home. The national and local government not only did not consult the indigenous people, but also bribed locals for signatures, doctored the minutes of meetings, and lied to make it look like there was overwhelming approval for the dam. Though it took years of hard work and dedication, they were able to stop construction on the dam in 2013. Unfortunately Berta paid with her life in 2016, as many who fight against the corruption of the Honduran government do. We march for her.
Read more about Berta Cáceres here.