Port Jervis Police and Fire Department assisted with traffic and
the peaceful march, also assisting with someone’s
cell phone photo during this group photo shot
PORT JERVIS -- They carried signs in all shapes, colors, and words, but
their messages were united in a mission of outreach and intention to make
changes and betterment in lives.
Women, families, and the planet overall were number one topic for nearly
200 participants in Port Jervis’ 3rd Annual Women’s March
Celebration 2019. The event was hosted for a third year by St. Peter’s
Lutheran Church and organized by Coordinator Patty Baughman.
Baughman praised participants for turning out to be involved in the peaceful
event, urging all to remain positive even if confronted by any negativity
during a march that followed presentations in the church.
Speakers in the church included local environmental and social justice
activist Melissa Martens, who called hers a ‘privileged generation’
and pledged her own efforts to help protect and preserve the planet for
her children’s generation and beyond.
Rev. Anne Akers of 1st Presbyterian Church in Port Jervis said she is
tired of hearing religious rights having the lion’s share of the
air waves with hateful beliefs in the name of God.
“The world’s moral compass is off kilter, wouldn’t you
say? They do not speak in the name of the God I know and follow. The God
I know is a God of love. The God I know is a God of mercy. The God I know
is a God of justice. And outrage at the way some people, lots of people,
are treated,” Akers said. “Like Martin Luther King, I have
a dream; a dream that we will find ways to talk across the lines of difference,
no matter what they are. And as Ghandi said, be the change you want to
see, the change you want.”
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, State Senator Jennifer Metzger, Shannon
Wong of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Nicole Kinzonzi advocating
for racial equality, Mackenzie Bacher of Safe Homes, Michele McKeon of
CEO of RECAP, and N’Senga Kinzonzi, each spoke of equality and other
issues of importance to women and communities. Gunther and Metzger were
each credited with sponsoring and supporting legislation in support of
women’s equality and rights.
N’Senga Kinzonzi drew a standing ovation, and tears, as she told
a riveting story of herself and others being bullied with hate crimes
in school, the impact on their lives, and what they view as a lack of
punishment and ways to stop this from happening to others.
“On October 10th a classmate took a picture of me, without my knowledge,
accompanied by hateful captions and sent it to another student. After
overhearing a conversation between the two, I was appalled to see the
caption and saddened by the content and ignorance the thought that his
could be a joke, “Kinzonzi said. “My little sister, at eight,
had a similar experience. A boy had drawn a picture of her as a monkey
falling into an open grave on fire and claimed it was her. Another boy
chimed in that this was true. There was no punishment, and my sister was
left with the pain. In another incident in my school, a girl was threatened
by members of the football team that she would be raped. And another girl,
because she is Jewish, had pennies thrown at her.”
Kinzonzi said these incidents in her Minisink Valley school were all similar,
lacking the punishment to prevent similar hate crimes from being repeated.
She quoted solutions credited to Dr. Martin Luther King that she urged
be applied to stop them.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Hate cannot drive out
hate. Only love can do that. Just like adding flame to a fire will not
extinguish it; only by adding its greater opposite, water, will it cease
to exist,” Kinzonzi said.
Following these and other presentations, the group marched down East Main
and Pike Streets, throughout downtown Port Jervis on Jersey Avenue, up
Fowler Street and back on East Main to the church.
“I definitely feel it was a ‘10’ day! What we set out
to accomplish was accomplished. People were connected, people felt community,
and activists were ignited!” Baughman said.
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