2017 may have marked the first of Women’s Marches nationwide, but that certainly wasn’t the end of things - especially in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Amidst talk of sister marches to the primary Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last January, four women joined forces to take a stand in Asbury Park. Daniele Fiori, Amanda Kane, Dallas Hlatky and Jennifer Lampert all wished to attend the Women’s March in Washington, but decided to plan a march of their own in New Jersey instead. What started as an idea for a walk to follow outgoing-President Barack Obama’s farewell address, soon morphed into a full blown solidarity march with over 6,000 participants. Across the nation people united like never before, creating an energy and momentum to get important conversations and movements started.
Despite requests for another march in January 2018, the Asbury Park organizers didn’t want to attempt to recreate the unique energy behind last year’s march, but they knew they needed to hold some kind of event to keep the momentum from last year going. From there, the idea for a gallery show to commemorate the march was born. And that's where I came in. Hosted at the Asbury Hotel, Still We Rise was a commemorative gallery show and party in honor of the 2017 Asbury Park Women’s March that I helped plan alongside Daniele Fiori of Sweet Dani B and Elizabeth Garcia of Asbury Park Daily.
Almost every inch of the event space at the Asbury Hotel was covered in posters from the 2017 march in Asbury Park, all of which had been saved. Ranging from protests of the new President to calls to action for LGBTQ and POC rights to messages of unity among women, the sentiment behind the signs could still be felt a year later.
Alongside the signs were photos taken from the 2017 march in Asbury Park, as well as other inspirational events that took place in Asbury Park throughout the past year. The images encompassed the feelings of solidarity and empowerment felt by all those who participated last year.
In addition to being able to tour the gallery of posters, attendees were treated to inspirational and empowering talks from an amazing line-up of speakers:
- First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy
- Three of the original march organizers (Fiori, Hlatky, and Kane)
- Filmmaker Scott E. Moore (who created a film from last year's Asbury Park march that was screened during the event)
- Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn
- Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton
- Luanne Peterpaul, Chair of the Action Fund and member of the Education Fund for Garden State Equality
- Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality
- Steven Gordon, Executive Director of The Pride Network
- Sue Fulton, Executive Director of Women in the Service Change Initiative
- Mychal Mills of Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS) who delivered a spoken word message of love and kindness
Without a doubt, Still We Rise was an incredibly powerful event and hopefully reenergized many of us who may feel a little depleted after enduring 2017. My hope is that we can continue to motivate, support and inspire each other to keep working hard and to keep fighting for change in this country. It's a lot of work. And it's hard work. But we have to keep moving forward.