I Marched yesterday.
I walked with my sisters, my daughters, and with mothers and fathers.
I walked with those who could not walk without a cane and those who could not see. I walked with thousands of women wearing pink hats, children carrying signs, and strong men supporting the women in their lives. Memories of the women who helped raise me to be an activist, a social worker, a visionary and a dreamer flooded my mind.
I walked for all the women who taught me how to stand up, speak up, shout out and act out for those who cannot.
I remembered helping my mother deliver meals to the homebound. I can still hear her voice urge me out of the car to deliver meals to those less fortunate, despite my fear and uncertainty of their needs. I heard her voice telling me to get over my fears, there are people who need our help and love.
I remember my mom’s dear friend, Edna May, sitting at my dining room table passionately telling me about her work at Planned Parenthood. I listened to her stories about how Planned Parenthood provided basic health care to women who were unable to afford it. I learned that Planned Parenthood’s work saves lives. Edna May explained the guidance she gave her clients who needed help.
I remembered the first time I protested across from the Russian Embassy pleading for the release of Natan Sharansky a Soviet Refusenik. (He was a Soviet Jew, who was denied permission to emigrate by the Soviet Union in the 1980’s). I was inspired and felt powerful, standing up for what I believed. Our presence made a difference. My father warned me to be careful, to stand up for what I believed in but not to get arrested!
I remembered taking a train from NJ to Washington,D.C. in the late 1980’s for the Soviet Jewry March. We were protesting for the release of Soviet Jews. That incredible sense of community energized me, and it inspired me to dedicate my life to serving those in need.
Early in my career I supervised the Social Work Program at Bloomfield College. I placed students at the local Planned Parenthood office, confident that they would learn it’s importance. I was never disappointed.
Years later, you could find me standing beside my daughters, marching down 5th Ave in the Israel Day Parade with the parents of Gilad Shalit, a kidnapped soldier, or protesting outside a major American Corporation for doing business with Iran.
Some of the most inspiring moments of my life were listening to my daughter, Gabrielle, standing next to Elie Wiesel across from the United Nations at the Free the Soldiers Rally, demanding freedom for 3 kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Or listening to my daughter, Danielle, tell the world that Iran must not be able to develop a nuclear weapon.
I still hear the power of my girl’s young voices as they captivated audiences and motivate their peers, adults and even a few world leaders.
Social justice is a core value in our home. At times, it is what we did for fun! One of the greatest things I’ve accomplished as a mom has been teaching my daughters the art of caring about something bigger than themselves, teaching them that their voice does make a difference, and that they can be a leader among their peers and the greater community.
As I walked on Saturday, I felt pride in America, the land that allows little girls to grow up to fight for what’s right and to teach new generations to join the fight.
This time is markedly different. It demands we fight with everything we have for everything we believe.
Most of us like, rather need, to feel that we have some control over our lives. With so much at stake, we must stand up and fight. This is my message to every person in the United States Senate: We demand that YOU stand up for women’s rights by refusing to vote for:
The Repeal of the ACA
The defunding of Planned Parenthood
The desecration of women’s reproductive rights or
The rollback of progress on climate change, among others.
Pick an issue. There are so many to choose from.
Me, I am doing what I do best. I am forming a Teen Advocacy Group – hoping to teach a new generation of young women how to find their voice and use it loudly and clearly.
Along with my sisters and daughters, I proudly stand on my mother’s generation’s shoulders, secure in the knowledge that there is nothing we cannot do.
As Helen Reddy said best:
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman!!!
So – Will you join me?
-Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Parent Educator