I was one of the more than 500,000 persons attending the DC Women’s March. For me, the March was personal in honor of my mother, Naomi.
My mom was born in Mt. Gilead, NC, a small town of less than 1500 persons in rural North Carolina. Growing up in the Jim Crow South, she longed for a better life as discrimination was rampant and the way of life there. Like so many Blacks living in the south during that era, she, as a young woman, migrated north, first to Buffalo, NY and later to Baltimore. During her lifetime, she experienced various forms of discrimination such as not being able to shop in stores due to the color of her skin, sit and eat in at many restaurants, live in many areas of Baltimore City, purchase homes in certain areas due to restrictive covenants preventing Blacks from living and buying homes in some areas. And this was after she moved to Baltimore.
My mother fought for many health care reforms as an employee and later as a retiree of the Baltimore City Health Department. Although, she on religious grounds did not support abortion for herself; she supported every women’s right to choose. And she was instrumental in getting a health care clinic built in our community. She was a staunch supporter of her union, knowing that unions make life better for working Americans.
And she knew that education was key and crucial for her children who attended public schools and later obtained college degrees. She and my father never failed to attend and become active in PTA meetings and our school events. Although my mother never mentioned the word “disability” in relationship to herself, she was born with an obvious physical disability.
When I saw many of the signs during the Women’s March supporting Planned Parenthood, the right to choose, unions, women in wheel chairs moving along the course during march, I felt like my mother was there with me in spirit. One sign in particular reminded me of my mother. Growing up, at times when we misbehaved, she would say, “I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out.” And one sign I saw online was a twist on her words, “Vaginas brought you in this world and vaginas will vote you out.”
All that my mother fought for during her lifetime is now in jeopardy with the Trump Administration. We are facing possible setbacks in all areas of women’s rights including in areas of health, education, housing, civil rights, workers’ rights, disability rights and voting rights, to name a few. And for those who say, we should take a wait and see approach to Donald Trump’s administration, I say that we cannot wait to take action. And that’s why the more than 500,000 women marched in DC and many millions more marched in solidarity across the country and around the world.
The lyrics of the old gospel song state, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around applies to the new Trump era. My mother lived to see many changes in her life that afforded me the many opportunities I now possess. And on my watch, I will do all that I can to resist any efforts to turn around our rights. I owe it to my mother who showed me the way.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal and political commentator and former Baltimore City prosecutor. She often appears on MSNBC, PBS, CBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC among others. Her op-ed writings appear in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Afro American.