On Thursday, March 29, Camden Women held a rally for Unity at City Hall. SJWPC board member and Camden resident Sue Altman was invited to speak at the rally. The following is the text of her speech. You can watch the speech here.
Hi Everyone, my name is Sue Altman. I am a Camden resident, over there in Cooper Grant— and we’ll get back to that— and I’m on the board of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. We are the little table over there doing voter registration.
I am honored and humbled to be here, with you, the incredible women of Camden. And thank you to the organizers, who had the vision, the energy and the power and confidence to put this amazing day together.
As women, we do share the common experience of sexism. But, women of color fight a two-front war each and every day. On one hand, they are blasted with sexism; on the other hand, it's racism. And white women need to do better. It’s on us! It’s on us! To fix this and dismantle this. Enough is enough.
In history, and even up to today, even in the modern era, down to this very moment, white women, and women with greater privilege: the rich, the able-bodied, have thrown our sisters of color under the bus on the way to our own false liberation. But not anymore! Not in South Jersey- NOT anymore!
We have some of the most segregated places in the country are right here in South Jersey. And it’s enough. ENOUGH. We are not free until all are free, and other women have said that today. Today marks a change.
In Camden it is no longer ok to focus all the attention, all the investment, on the downtown area where I live...Which also is the whitest area in Camden. We can’t do that anymore at the expense of our East Camdens, at the expense of our Parksides, at the expense of our Waterfront Souths, our North Camdens.
Y’all have been there first— i’m just an implant!
From today, when Camden rises, we rise together. When South Jersey rises, we rise TOGETHER. As women, we rise, we rise together.
There are barriers coming down, and walls are finally falling: Between suburbanites who have been taught to fear and avoid Camden, and the brilliant, talented, smart, resilient women of Camden who put this together today. Look around, we will rise together.
Divide and conquer will work no more.
When Camden rises it will rise for all women of this great city.
When we rise, we will leave NO WOMAN BEHIND!
Watch Sue's speech here.
For more information about Camden's Feminist Collective and the Women's Unity movement in Camden, please attend their next meeting on April 26, 2018 at 5:30pm at the Riletta Twyne Cream Library.
By Emily Devenney
In the wake of a publicized mass tragedy, like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, FL, sometimes it seems like we are racing the media clock to get our thoughts out there. As I write this post, there are new developments daily; policy proposals, community responses, and, sadly, more violence.
On Tuesday, March 20th, 17 year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, a student at Great Mills High School in Maryland, shot two other students before suffering a mortal wound himself at the hands of school resource officer Blaine Gaskill, according to CNN. The officer followed his training, but nonetheless, a student was shot and killed by an armed officer in a school. Just over a year earlier, in January 2017, 14 year-old Logan Clark, a student at Hug High School in Nevada, was shot in the chest by a school officer when he refused to drop a knife he was wielding. Clark survived, but has severe brain trauma.
When we decide that the best method for keeping our students, our children, safe from gun violence in schools by arming school security guards, or employing school police officers, we knowingly put them at risk of more violence. I am not a parent, but when I hear politicians calling for arming teachers, or amping up armed security, I’m thinking of students like Austin Wyatt Rollins and Logan Clark. I’m also thinking about Tamir Rice, Cameron Tillman, Laquan McDonald and Michael Brown, all school-aged children killed by police.
Many of the voices speaking about gun violence I’ve heard recently have been white voices. Both nationally and locally, we elevate the tragedies of, and propose solutions to, violence that affects white communities. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer gave Philadelphia high school students the platform to raise a poignant question: “If the mass shooting hadn’t brought gun violence to the steps of the Florida school...would the Parkland teens be standing in solidarity with them over the violence they live with every day?” Posed by student Dena Hill, the question captures a major shortcoming in discussions about school and community safety: urban children face violence more often than suburban children, but there is seldom national outcry when children lose friends and parents to gun violence in Philadelphia, Camden, or Newark.
Since Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, and now Parkland, we’ve been asking ourselves and each other how we can stay safe from gun violence when people have easy access to assault style weapons, how we can ensure that our children can go to school and come home unharmed each day, and how we can prepare to react to potential mass violence. In these discussions we often fail to question how so many guns have made their ways into our cities, how we can aid in community healing efforts, and how we can reduce the gun violence that plagues Baltimore, St. Louis and Philadelphia without incarcerating even more young black men.
Here are a few ways you can help to expand the narrative. Check out these Calls to Action:
Consider the pleas of the mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence, both street and state-sanctioned; of school children who have had armed guards in schools for years; and consider how other nations, like Canada, the U.K. and Australia, respond to gun violence. No solution is perfect, but one that considers the well-being of all, rather than some, that recognizes #BlackLivesMatter, and that keeps all guns, legal and illegal, out of schools, wouldn’t be a bad start.
When you march against gun violence, we hope you will remember to include ALL children who are impacted by gun violence, which affects black children at 10x the rate of their white peers.
Suggestions for Signs at March for Our Lives:
"Safe Schools, Safe Streets"
“Fund Schools, Not Guns”
“Reduce Guns, Reduce Violence”
“Teach Love, Not Violence”
Standing in Solidarity (S.I.S.) a group of Camden-based women are organizing a unity rally for women on Thursday March 22 at Roosevelt Plaza Park. S.I.S promotes intergenerational bonding by demonstrating unity in issues vital to the empowerment of women. In the spirit of Women’s History month, S.I.S. will host this historic gathering of multi-generational area women from diverse backgrounds.
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change has been invited to join this rally to promote our universal concerns and commonalities for the wellbeing of all women in our region.
“Our focus is bridging the intergenerational gap,” says Erin L. Johnson, rally organizer. Erin, an entrepreneur and founder of Feminist Business Society is part of the trio spearheading this effort. Erin Johnson and her partners Nyemah Gillespie, owner of Dare 2 Dance, and Betty Knight, founder of Miracles in Motion are all millennial Camden natives and products of Camden City Public Schools.
There will be a number of inspirational speakers focusing on issues related to unity in the home, community, and work. There will also be vendors with information and resources for women and families. South Jersey Women for Progressive Change will be sponsoring a voter registration table.
The event will enable the women of Camden City to write the narrative about the future of their home town and highlight the incredible positive work that is happening in Camden communities every day.
The group is also planning a follow up event that will promote solution-based discussion for women’s issues.
The Women’s Unity Day Rally is free and open to the public. For more information about this event or S.I.S. check out their Facebook page or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Unity Rally, Roosevelt Plaza Park (520 Market Street) Camden City Hall
Thursday, March 22 from 4 pm - 6:30 pm.
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is thrilled to announce our endorsement of Tanzie Youngblood for Congress in NJ's Congressional District 2. We believe that Tanzie’s entry into the race encapsulates our organization’s own enthusiasm and commitment to change in government, and that her presence in CD2 has started a much-needed discussion of the Democratic Party’s values in South Jersey.
When Barack Obama said, “Grab a clipboard and run for office!” Tanzie took him seriously, putting herself out there and at risk against the GOP propaganda machine and big money. She was there first. Then current Congressman Frank LoBiondo announced his retirement, and Tanzie found herself, once again, running against big money— this time from the Democratic side. Jeff Van Drew, Tanzie’s main primary opponent, is a conservative Democrat, a longtime NJ State Senator with an A+ rating from the NRA, who has voted against same-sex marriage, for more restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, and against the environment— over and over again.
And yet this is who the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and NJ’s own moneyed Democratic leadership have chosen to support. This choice is completely out of step with the national mood. Not supporting Tanzie was a missed opportunity for the local Democratic machine who is showing that they are out of step with their voters. Women like Tanzie--bold, brave, smart, committed--are the future of the party.
The situation in CD2 deserves national attention. It highlights precisely what is problematic about the Democratic Party— including the inability of its leadership to recognize raw, untapped talent, and to put resources behind people who represent a broader, more diverse, more inclusive group of New Jersey residents. The Democratic Party had the opportunity to invest in a talented, confident, strong, qualified female candidate. They chose not to. But, SJWPC will. We recognize that it’s time for a woman (and a woman of color) to represent the party and to represent our state. NJ’s record on gender parity in Congress is shameful. We demand change from the Democratic Party. This change will start with women. In NJ’s entire congressional delegation, women occupy only one seat in twelve, or 8%. Just 8% of the people we send to Washington are female. Not eight people, eight percent! By way of comparison, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Somalia have better gender representation in their governing bodies.
The lack of women in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation is not something that we are imagining. It’s the good old boys’ club personified. In NJ, the official and unofficial leaders choose “known quantities” and “team players” in backroom primaries, and these choices inform the DCCC, PAC endorsements, and campaign cash. The Van Drew endorsement by Democratic power brokers is a demonstration of how completely out of touch the leaders are with Democratic voters. Letting Tanzie slip through the cracks is a missed opportunity for real growth.
However,we will not miss this opportunity to make a decision that is right for the people of South Jersey. Tanzie is one of our members, and has been since before she announced her candidacy. She is strong on universal healthcare, the environment and and will work to support farmers and bring in STEM jobs to invigorate industry. Her social media presence is impressive, and her credentials as a former teacher and a Blue Star mom separate her from the bunch. We are confident she can WIN in CD2 with her progressive platform, her personality, and her highly advanced voter registration and get out the vote efforts.
Our members are fired up about her, and so are we, the leaders of SJWPC. Our endorsement process includes member surveys at on-site events, where we gather qualitative feedback from our members on their impressions of the candidates. One member said, “Tanzie is like the girl on the playground who got everyone organized and involved. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious.” Another member noted, “Tanzie will energize the more diverse and enlightened areas of the district far more than the other candidates. 2018 is THE year for women! Women unite!” Further, “2018 is the year for women, specifically women of color, to get the recognition and support and respect owed to them by the Democrats.”
WE AGREE! We believe that having more women in office is long overdue, and beyond that, Tanzie is a highly qualified, inspirational figure who our membership is excited about. It feels good to endorse her, and we will volunteer hard for her campaign!
If you’d like to be involved with a voter registration drive in CD2 targeting marginalized populations, please reach out to Susan Druckenbrod, email@example.com
SJWPC takes its endorsement process very seriously. We have outlined the process here, but in summary: