By Adelle Whitefoot
It was a slightly chilly morning as hundreds of women and men of all ages marched down First Street in downtown Duluth participating in the second annual Twin Ports Women’s March on Saturday morning.
The march began outside the Building for Women on the corner of North First Avenue East and First Street and ended at City Hall. As the march began, the Oshkii Giizhik Singers led the way, beating a drum and singing. Loud chants could be heard echoing off the buildings: “Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.” “My body, my choice.” Many people held signs and marched with their friends and colleagues, joining together to fight for equality.
Susan Jordahl-Bubacz, the legislative chair of the Minnesota Business and Professional Women, wasn’t able to make last year’s march because of her mother’s death. She was excited to attend this year.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” she said.
Jordahl-Bubacz said the best part of the march for her is everyone coming together to fight for what’s right.
“We need to come together; that’s what’s missing in America right now,” she said. “Out of all the legislation out there right now, none of the things that need to be happening are happening. So we need to come together and do what women do best, and that’s organize and create change.”
Mayor Emily Larson told the large crowd at City Hall she believes that is what’s happening: change.
“Last year, we showed as a community that we care about the voice of people in Duluth,” she said, “that we as a community stand united to ensure there are opportunities for women and girls, and I’ve seen our activism and our voice be effective time and time again.”
But Larson said their work is not done.
“People are like tea bags, and they don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water,” she said. “So here is what I say to our leaders across the state and to our president in the White House: Bring on the boil!”
Another speaker at the rally spoke about her own times of facing adversity. Terresa Hardaway said she moved to Duluth to escape her ex-husband who was a manipulator, liar, and physical and emotional abuser for five and half years.
“It was a pivotal experience in my life because I found out just how much of a badass I really am,” she said.
Hardaway said while her story had much to do with power dynamics and sexism, it was really rooted in white supremacy.
“My ex’s actions were a direct result of him being socialized in an environment that values white supremacy,” she said. “This plague is deeply embedded and affects all of our communities with its domination and control, its elimination of opportunities and its white-washed collective memory.”
Hardaway’s powerful story was met with loud cheers and support from the crowd, and she refused to be “silenced or censored.”
“I refuse to be controlled. I refuse to be accepted as women without the acknowledgement of my blackness,” she said. “And I refuse to believe you don’t have the ability to change your actions, your words, your thoughts, your spending habits and your determination and dedication in this fight in this system that affects all of us.”