Saturday’s Kansas City Women’s March was centered at Unity Temple on the Plaza. After the 2:00 p.m. march through the Plaza and back participants gathered for a 3:00 p.m. inside rally.
Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus spoke at the rally:
Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus: …You, the women and men of Kansas City are warming my heart on this cold, cold day. I want to thank you so much for your energy. And I want to tell you a little story. I want to start a little bit slower.
And I want to say, has anyone ever had this experience? Has anyone ever had someone approach you and say, where’s your smile sweetheart? Hey baby, why don’t you smile? Here’s one of my personal favorites – smile council lady.
You know, it’s a seemingly harmless suggestion. One I’m sure that most of us have heard on multiple occasions, whether we were sitting around a conference table at work or, you know, some stranger passing us on the street. But, you know, it’s unwanted advice that is frequently given to women leaders. And it is never suggested to our male counterparts.
And I want to take a moment right now to tell you why I’m not smiling. I’m not smiling because someone asked me this week why we need another women’s march. Didn’t we make our point already? Thank you.
I’m not smiling because this summer I watched some of our nation’s highest ranking leaders, they told Christine Blasey Ford that they believed her but it didn’t matter. I’m not smiling because one in three women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. I’m not smiling because the Violence Against Women Act expired due to the Trump shutdown. I’m not smiling because violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, is at an all time high. And I’m not smiling because at the current rate of change the gender pay gap will not close until twenty-one nineteen, that’s one hundred years. So that’s why I’m not smiling. And that’s why we march. That’s why we march. And when we march in our own schedule we will smile.
And lately, I’ve been smiling a lot because I want to.
I am smiling today because I see you marching in solidarity and I see light within the darkness. I’m smiling because the State of Kansas elected Laura Kelly and Sharice Davids. I’m smiling because a record number of women were just elected to the Missouri General Assembly. I’m smiling because Kansas state employees have finally earned parental leave. I’m smiling because thirteen years after we put the work in in Jefferson City we finally passed a lethality review in an effort to decrease domestic violence deaths. I’m smiling because the city of Kansas City stopped requesting salary history, reducing the gender pay gap. And we unanimously passed a law that allows domestic and sexual survivors to break their leases and escape their abusers.
And I’m smiling, I’m smiling because it was women in power with our male allies who got these things done.
And we’re not gonna stop. We will continue to stand and expose violence, harassment and assault. We will use calls against us, those meant to silence and discredit us, to lift each other up. Nevertheless, sisters, we persisted.
It’s been two years since that sunny day in Washington Park when we first gathered to raise our collective voice. It’s been two years and we have not stopped working. We are no longer fighting from the sidelines though, we are no longer on the sidelines. We are supporting and electing women, people of color, and immigrants at every single level of government.
And now that we have a seat at the table, now that we have a seat at the table we are finally moving on with that menu. And although we have made huge strides we cannot slow down. It is only when we lift up and value all women that we will really win this fight.
So join with me today and let’s renew our commitment. Let’s renew our commitment that we will continue to march, we will continue to run, and we will continue to win. This is not an easy commitment, though. I don’t want you to think this is gonna be easy. It’s not gonna happen overnight.
Violence prevention, climate change, racism, voting rights, immigration – these are all important and none of these things can wait. But know this, in your fight you are not alone. When you feel discouraged, when you are overwhelmed and tired, remember that your friends and neighbors are working just as hard on the issues that you cannot personally tackle today. When you need a rest please take it. Know that we will be there to pick up your torch. We’ve got your back. You have to take care of yourself if you want to continue this march. And yes, that means unplugging from time to time. That also mean getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, spending time with friends, getting outside, and having fun. Do those things.
So, what’s next? What do we need you to do? Well, there are seventy-three days until your next municipal election. There are three hundred and eighty-one days until filing opens for state House and Senate. I want women in this room to file for those seats. There are six hundred and fifty-four days until the next presidential election.
Remember this, when we vote we win. When we run we win. And when we march we win. And we are on the right side of history. We’ve got this.
Kansas City Women’s March – January 19, 2019 (January 19, 2019)
Rep. Sharice Davids (D) – Kansas City Women’s March – January 19, 2019 (January 20, 2019)