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Thank You Sisters! By Jaan Laaman
We all should thank the women who put out the call and organized, coordinated, led, spoke at and participated in the January 21st "Women’s March." Truly sisters, your insight and effort created a tremendous result, literally unlike any event(s) we have ever seen in this country.
The huge central march in Washington, and the 600-plus rallies in cities and towns across all 50 states, brought out 2 to 3 million people, and maybe more. These marches were very positive and heartening and definitely very necessary. As a long-held political prisoner, I was up early and spent most of the day in the cell block TV area, watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC. Even the Republican Party sycophants at Fox News, admitted that huge numbers of protesters were marching across the country.
As many have chanted in past marches, “el pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido” – “the people, united, can never be defeated” yesterday, we saw the reality of unity and power. Let's be clear, these marches and rallies across the United States were unlike any other public protests ever seen in the country. Of course there have been previous marches that were very large, coordinated, and occurring in multiple cities simultaneously. As a life-long revolutionary activist since the 1960's, I have taken part in huge marches, peaceful rallies, civil disobedience and street fighting. Let me tell you, what we saw on January 21st, has never happened before in the US. Thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of marchers gathered in cities in all 50 states, united in positive determination for Women’s Rights, Human Rights, for justice, equality and much more.
Historically and around the world, much smaller numbers of protests and protesters have led to regime change and the launching of revolutions. Of course the purpose and plan of yesterday’s massive outpouring of young and old women, men, and children was the peaceful but determined expression of a wide range of people, telling this new government and the world that justice, equality, freedom, and basic Human Rights were realities that must be upheld. The many, and also very large, rallies in other countries: London, Berlin, Paris, Sydney, Rome, etc., showed that people in the US were not alone in standing up for these very important rights and principles. These international marches also showed that Donald Trump and his new government were causing concern and worry around the world, and not just for us here in the United States.
International solidarity is great, but the real strength and significance of January 21st was the massive outpouring of all kinds of people all across the USA. This huge historic statement is the ground on which the Trump government begins operating. As powerful as all the marches were, I’m sure few of us doubt that Trump and his government will soon still begin its assaults on various groups within the US public.
While many dynamic and significant organizations and women were responsible for calling and coordinating the rallies, no one organization or leadership did it all. Many groups and organizers worked together and huge numbers of women heeded the call and came out. Now, the really important steps ahead are how to maintain this unity and build on the powerful momentum of January 21st.
As a man sitting in a federal prison cell, it is not my place or ability to tell all you good activists, organizers, and people of conscience what to do and how to keep the momentum going and growing. What I do know and have already heard expressed is that marchers have been urged to go back home and connect with activist groups in their communities, as well as with larger formations and national organizations. Many paths and efforts are and will be put forth. Reformist electoral organizing, beginning with local elections; work towards new parties – a labor party; grassroots community programs and organizations; building and joining with national left/labor organizations; joining or creating caucuses at work or school. No one size or strategy will be enough. The important point I should urge is for all the marchers, and those concerned people who did not actually get to a rally, to join others in building for the principles and goals you marched for. We have to use the energy and power of this historic mobilization and upsurge of so many people to be ready to stand up to and confront Trump as we know we soon must. Even more importantly, we really should build and create life- and hope-centered efforts and momentum to not only stand up to bigotry, was, misogyny, injustice, and other hateful practices, but to go beyond Trump. It might take four years to be rid of Trump, but we can already be working on and creating a more just, equal, peaceful, and life-centered society from our neighborhood up. The time for that is now and yes, we will, no doubt also need to get out into the street in all our numbers and even more, to stop at least some of the attacks Trump has in store for us, the people of the United States.
Let’s remember – Unity brings strength,
Freedom is a constant struggle!
Jaan Laaman – anti-imperialist political prisoner
January 22, 2017