On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to participate in Bee Day 2016. This is special day when Tell Them helps us all understand why we need to know our South Carolina representatives, and then we go find them and demand change. Now, it wasn’t just us, there were all manner of groups and organizations from all over the state being herded through the state house. All of the blue blazers and khakis nearly melted my brain. But we were there to call attention to some major issues: HPV prevention, sex education, taking down the 20-week abortion ban bill, and advocating for more women of color to represent us. In a way, we all had our own agenda and reason for being there.
The day was a whirlwind of activism, new friends, good free food, and walking through downtown Columbia on the most beautiful day ever. At our morning session at the Marriott, we talked to groups like the Women’s League of Voters, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Girls Rock Columbia, I Believe Anita Hill, AIDS Healthcare foundation and many more. Then we walked (or shuttled via golf cart driven by Soda City Market’s Emile DeFelice) down to the state house where we heard some wise words from Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, newly-elected (and one of only two women in the state Senate) Margie Bright Matthews, and Pat Forbis from the Women’s League of Voters. They spoke of strength, equality, and perseverance, and we shouted and clapped until it was time to hustle up a perilously narrow staircase to the balcony of the assembly. There, we watched Rep. Cobb-Hunter shine a light on Tell Them and explain why all of our issues were worth championing. After photos and hugs, we made it back to the Marriott for lunch before we returned for meetings with our congresspeople. It was inspiring and empowering.
That day, we also got to celebrate a hard-won victory when word came in that the 20-week abortion ban failed to pass the house – an important issue for me. It felt good to cheer for women’s rights, even though I knew there’d be another vote and a lot more hard work. I watched Tell Them’s advocates huddle up and talk strategy about the days to come. I came away thinking how very important it was to witness this work in action. We complain a lot about how our representatives ignore our concerns, legislate against our health and happiness, and disregard our right to choose. I encourage you all to check in and learn more about Tell Them and the other contributing organizations. Go ahead and sign up for ALL of the newsletters. Attend some events. Write your congresspeople or ambush them at the state house (not in a scary way). Start helping to make change, and then the complaining will be a bit more justified. In the meantime, listen again to Jade Janay Blocker slaying “You Don’t Know Own Me.”
Can’t wait to see ya’ll next year. #BeeDay2017
All photos by Mac Sereque.