Rally Held to Support Women’s Reproductive Rights

Mia Schneider -- Ruby Labrie (center) speaks to the crowd at the Bigger than Roe march Sunday, Jan. 22 at City Hall
Mia Schneider -- Ruby Labrie (center) speaks to the crowd at the Bigger than Roe march Sunday, Jan. 22 at City Hall

Rally Held to Support Women’s Reproductive Rights

On Sunday, Jan. 22 at the women’s rally in front of Alameda’s City Hall, more than 50 supporters met with a unified rallying cry: It’s Bigger than Roe. The rally took place on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that decriminalized abortion nationwide. The march in Alameda was part of the National Women’s March, which consisted of marches throughout the country.

A major theme of this year’s march was the U.S. Supreme Court decision to withdraw the Federal Constitutional right to an abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24 of last year. The decision left much of the country in an uproar over the assertion by the Supreme Court that bodily autonomy for women is not an explicit right.

The crowd of demonstrators mingled amongst each other with dozens of handmade signs with varied but collectively indignant messages: “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Right to Decide,” and “No, I won’t go quietly back to the 1950s.”Among the gathered activist groups was The League of Women Voters of Alameda who set up tables with information depicting their goals to fight for voting rights for all, as well as the All Rise organization; a women-led grassroots group which was established because of the 2017 Women’s March.

The event was kicked off by its coordinator, Felicia Roche, who gave a land acknowledgement to the Ohlone people. Mayor Marylin Ezzy Ashcraft followed with an energizing speech, commending the efforts of the activists who marched for reproductive freedom following the abrupt retraction of the decades of effort by women around the country. The mayor implored the young adults in the crowd to continue to exercise their right to vote in all future elections and to consider their role in making change, including through running for political office, an impactful opportunity to expedite that change.

The rally consisted of many inspiring and righteously dissatisfied speeches from women activists in the community, many of which emphasized young people’s power to incite change and make progress in fighting for women’s rights. This sentiment was heavily endorsed by the crowd who cheered encouragingly for the two students in the Skyline High School Drama Program (SHS) in Oakland who also made empowering speeches that day.

“We are not a commodity,” said Ruby Labrie, a junior at SHS. “We are not objects. We will not stay silent. We are all women from countless backgrounds and we are all here to ensure a better future for all women and girls.”

Nizie Brou, a sophomore at SHS, mirrored Labrie’s message in her own speech, declaring, “Generations of women before us have fought for our rights and have given us what we have today, and I thank them for their hard work. We cannot let their pivotal work be undone and we must advance it to the next level.”

Drama teacher, and winner of NBC’s Universal All-Star Teacher Award, Awele Makeba, prefaced her students’ monologues with an appeal to everyone to use their voice to make a positive difference in society.

After the conclusion of the speeches, the demonstrators made their way to South Shore Center from City Hall with their signs held aloft and their determination evident. Of all the many ideas expressed that day, what rang consistently true was the necessity of young people to be bold enough to continue to carry the banner and raise their voices loud enough to maintain a lasting echo.

Mia Schneider is an Alameda Sun intern. To reach her, email editor@alamedsun.com.