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Tallahassee International Women’s Day

By Satya Stark-Bejnar |
March 11, 2020
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Tallahassee, FL - In honor of International Women’s Day, Tallahassee residents attended a panel discussion on the origins and impacts of the socialist holiday.

Regina Joseph of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) shared a short video on the history of the day and facilitated a panel of five leaders representing over ten active local organizations.

The panelists were all people of color, ranging in age from 20 to 55: Valentina Beron, FSU student and organizer with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Veg FSU; Delilah Pierre, FSU graduate, member of Gender Odyssey, TCAC’s Outreach Coordinator, and Poet leading the Tallahassee Writers Collective; Marie Rattigan, FAMU graduate, Students for Bernie organizer, and Dream Defenders Coordinator; Katherine Draken, FSU graduate, UPS Teamster, and member of TCAC; and Paula Hill, local Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) Chapter Leader, Returning Citizen, New Black Panther, and great-grandmother.

Each panelist shared their personal and organizational history of organized resistance - local, statewide, and national, and spoke on a range of questions and ideas, including how to combat racism, sexism and other bigotries within activist spaces.

“You gotta check those homophobic and transphobic comments [that you hear] in your spaces... and study! You gotta read!” Delilah Pierre asserted.

Valentina Beron spoke to the multiple challenge’s women and queer and gender nonconforming survivors face when speaking up against their abusers and attackers. Not only do police and even close friends and family fail to believe survivors, “Institutions coddle abusers and people who sexually assault,” and added they “don’t face any repercussions, and it’s very difficult for victims to see this happen. That’s why I’m so proud to work with Students for a Democratic Society.”

Survivors told their stories of being assaulted on campus and SDS not only took them seriously but made it their campaign for the whole year. As Beron listed the organizations co-sponsoring to organize a march in April on the topic, Dream Defenders’ Marie Rattigan spoke up to add Dream Defenders to the list. That was the first of a burst of support, cooperation and solidarity to result from the International Women’s Day event. Campus organizers for Bernie Sanders’ campaign from FSU and FAMU enjoyed first contact with one another and pledged mutual support and cooperation; FRRC Chapter Leader Paula Hill assured everyone in the room, “If you’re a woman, gay, transgender, whoever you are, however you present, if you’re out with me, you’ve got protection!”; and all in attendance were invited to an upcoming public hearing on a locally researched and LGBTQIA+ composed Ordinance to Ban Conversion Therapy in Tallahassee.

When asked why it was important to hold an International Women’s Day event, facilitator Regina Joseph answered, “It’s important to have this event to acknowledge the long history of struggle and resistance led by working class and oppressed women. Events like this not only acknowledge the historical truth of this, but literally put center-stage the women and non-binary people who are currently front and center of local organizing work and political struggle.”

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