The words of Anika Bowie, spoken at Women’s March 2019.
At a young age I grew up sitting on the front porch with my great- grandmother singing my favorite church song, “This Little Light of Mine.” We would sing so loud for the entire Rondo neighborhood to hear two off-pitch Black women singing, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”
She would tell me stories of the importance of education and standing up for what is right. Her voice, full of pain painted with promise, and her eyes beaming with hope for a future for her great-granddaughter to be her shining light. With a heart of conviction she would say, “Sunshine, it’s one thing to have a light, it’s another to let it shine.”
So, Women’s March, let’s speak truth and not politics.
Today the light of truth is shining on our North Star state. A state that welcomed enslaved Africans fleeing America’s racial discrimination, to enter Minnesota’s nice version of institutional racism. A state that welcomed immigrants across the globe seeking the American dream, with the fear of being deported by ICE. A state that welcomed a Rainbow Movement that taught this country that love always wins, but lost the sight that Black trans lives matter too.
A state that planted its flag on sacred Native land and through indigenous bodies. A state that gives people second chances, but locks them in second-class status. That’s why we say #RestoretheVoteMinnesota.
I ask all of you today, will we become the truth for all of Minnesota?
The Minneapolis NAACP dares you to shine your light of truth on what is right. Women’s rights are civil rights. Women’s rights are human rights. What is right for women is right for everyone. And, if you are wise enough, you know that women always are right.
Change doesn’t come by masses. Change comes by the people who dare to challenge power.
My sisters in intersectionality, I leave you with words of the great Shirley Chisholm: “We have really come too far to, again, be danced backwards into what others consider to be our place.”
It’s time to claim our place and shine our light. It’s time to be the world’s North Star, in equality, equity, and opportunity for all.
It’s time to stand on the shoulders of women who claim their place in Congress, at the Capital, the boardrooms, and in our Minnesota classrooms. Anywhere and everywhere we decide to let our light shine.
Women’s March Minnesota, let it shine! Let it shine today, let it shine tomorrow, and let it shine forever.
Anika Bowie is the Vice President of the Minneapolis chapter of NAACP, and coordinates the Minnesota Restore the Vote Coalition. Find a video of her speech here