See you at the OC women’s march on Jan. 19
By JENNIFER MUIR BEUTHIN, Contributing Columnist
Residents of Orange County made a shared new year’s resolution this year, which we articulated at the ballot box in November when we voted for a political sea change in our community.
But this election was not the end goal, rather, it was just the beginning.
As new elected officials are sworn into office and political party leadership changes its complexion next month, our real work begins. It’s not enough to elect new leaders; rather, the real goal is to shape the future of our communities by holding them accountable to the values that spurred their victories, by educating them about important issues and by activating alongside our own friends and neighbors to support positive change.
But how do we do that?
These past three years, Orange County residents have demonstrated a level of civic engagement I never thought possible in OC.
The first glimpse of it came right after the 2016 elections when tens of thousands of women and men marched in the streets of Santa Ana as part of the Orange County Women’s March.
At the time, skeptics described the march as a collective catharsis from a tough election and predicted it would be a flash that would dissipate as a new normal set in. But that didn’t happen.
Last year, more than 25,000 people returned to march with a sense of determination to change a place that for far too long has been a home to ideology, policy and activism targeting women’s rights, our bodies and our futures.
Together, we marched for so many reasons — for equal pay in a county that has the largest pay gap among municipal workers in the state. For child care and family supporting policies. For health care as a human right. For respect and safety in a community that has been a breeding ground for hate groups targeting our neighbors for their race, religion and sexual identity. For our children. For so much more.
And something interesting happened — the march didn’t end at the end of the route. It continued throughout the streets of Orange County, as people who had never been active before activated within newly formed grassroots organizations, talked to their neighbors, and ultimately voted in larger numbers than ever expected.
The activism of those thousands of women fueled the transformation that is happening now. And we have a collective responsibility to shape that change moving forward.
That’s what this year’s women’s march is all about, celebrating the awakening, strength and passion of our community, and reaffirming our commitment in the year ahead to make Orange County more safe, equitable and supportive of all the women who live here. This year, the march will be a place to channel the activism that brought forth this change into the leadership that will shape our communities for generations to come.
The march is organized by a coalition of diverse community members and organizations, all of which are committed to making sure there is space for our entire community celebrate through both education and civic connection and also through art and song and dance.
If you want to learn how to get more involved in your community, this is the place to be. If you want your kids to experience the energy of collective action, come to the march. If you want to celebrate and share in this incredible moment in our community’s history, please join us.
The march is at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 in Santa Ana, and you can learn more, sign up to march or find out about how to get even more involved at ocwomensmarch.org. Hope to see you there!
Jennifer Muir Beuthin is general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.
Publication Date: December 29, 2018