Revolution #199, April 18, 2010
International Women's Day Atlanta 2010
We received the following report from Atlanta:
On Monday evening, March 8, at a coffee house in a part of town called the West End, Revolution Books sponsored an IWD program with the theme of "Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women As a Mighty Force for Revolution," with a special dedication to those on the front lines in Iran.
The reason we had the IWD program in this area is not only because Revolution newspaper has had an ongoing presence in the West End, which is a Black community and commercial district in the area around the Atlanta University Center, but also because in the last month, Georgia Right to Life in coordination with other anti-abortion organizations has rolled out an outrageous, vicious anti-abortion billboard campaign focused in this area. The billboards, 80 of them, feature a picture of the face of a cute Black baby with the caption "Endangered Species," and the website toomanyaborted.com. Their website argues that abortion providers have conspired to exterminate the Black race, with the evidence being that many abortion clinics are located in inner-city areas. There is also an accompanying bill in the Georgia legislature, which is trying to make it a felony for abortion providers or medical personnel who are found guilty of "coercing a woman to abort her fetus based on the fetus' race or sex," under the guise of anti-discrimination! Having an International Women's Day program in the midst of the mix going on in the West End was an important political intervention.
The coffee house was packed with most coming for the program itself, but once the program began, even those who just came by to chill were attentive to the speakers. The first speaker was a Women's Studies professor at Spelman College, a women's college that is part of the Atlanta University Center HBCU complex. She spoke on women in resistance, and spoke a great deal on how even in the movements for liberation women have been relegated to subordinate positions. The next person spoke on behalf of Revolution Books, speaking on the liberation of women and all of humanity, bringing to life many points from A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, the special issue of Revolution newspaper. And the last speaker was an Iranian woman who, up until a few months ago, was a journalist in Iran covering the resistance and the central role of women in the resistance. She had been arrested by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), detained for forty days and tortured during that time. She was recently able to get out of the country with the help of the United Nations. Her presentation was translated from Farsi. She spoke on how women are very active in the resistance, and that one of the acts of resistance is refusing to wear their hijabs or veils. She spoke about how in the past, during the revolution and afterwards, women thought that their position in society would change, but with the IRI coming to power it put women back into the most oppressive conditions—and this time around it is being talked about broadly that women are not going to stop fighting until their oppression is finally broken.
There was open discussion after the presentations, and many people were very interested in getting a deeper understanding of the struggle going on in Iran. There was further exploration of the strategy behind the anti-abortion billboard campaign and getting a deeper grasp for the need of abortion as central to women's liberation. After the program ended a good majority of the people stayed to continue the discussion informally. During that time a woman came up to the speaker for Revolution Books to say that she was very happy that the discussion of abortion came up, because she needed to get one and the conversation strengthened her resolve.
Earlier that day, led by a banner that said, "International Women's Day March 8, Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women As a Mighty Force for Revolution" a contingent of seven people circulated through the downtown Atlanta area during lunch hour. Equipped with a bullhorn, we stopped at several corners and agitated about it being International Women's Day, what the day signifies, what horrors women face on a daily basis, and calling for people to join the revolution to get to a world where half of humanity will not be considered the possession of the other half. We also brought along two enlarged posters, one of Bob Avakian's quote with the pictures that were in the centerfold of the International Women's Day issue of Revolution, and another past centerfold from Revolution called "A Fetus Is Not A Baby! Abortion on Demand Without Apology!" illustrating the science that shows that fetuses are not children. Our agitation had some real impact.
Several people would stop and listen attentively to what we were saying, and many others shouted out comments as they walked by, mostly positive, or stopped to talk with us. One woman who stopped said that she agreed with what we were saying, because she had been in an abusive situation and got out of it, and so can other women. Her view was that it was an individual choice, and we got into the point made in the Declaration that if this is happening on epidemic levels, it is not an individual choice but systemic. Another woman stopped and asked if the woman on the bullhorn could relay something for her: "Tell people there are millions of Preciouses in the world."
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