Marching for Social Change

UCM Students Lead Grassroots Women’s March

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  • Marchers gathered in front of the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Warrensburg after the Women’s March on Jan. 22. The group walked to the courthouse after listening to speakers and open mic opportunities at the UCM Amphitheatre.

  • Jessica Miller holds a homemade sign during the march on Jan. 22. Miller helped spearhead the event along with other students and local leaders.

  • University of Central Missouri students, faculty, staff and community members joined to march from UCM’s Amphitheatre to the Johnson County Courthouse on Jan. 22. The group of about 60 people walked to empower social change.

  • Glenda Carmack, University of Central Missouri School of Natural Sciences Office Professional, spoke during the beginning of the march to inspire students to keep learning and urged students to be politically engaged by voting. She personally produced and designed free buttons and stickers for the march participants.

  • University of Central Missouri Chemistry major Lillian Tate walks down Holden Street and shares her voice at the Women’s March on Jan. 22. She was one of the approximately 60 people that marched from the UCM Amphitheatre to the Johnson County Courthouse.

Written by Rachel Becker, Editor-in-Chief

  University of Central Missouri’s student leaders organized a local Women’s March on Jan. 22. A crowd of about 60 people, filled with UCM students, faculty and staff and Warrensburg residents, gathered to march from the UCM Amphitheatre to the Warrensburg Courthouse.

  “History has not always proven kind to women, but we are not asking for kindness, we are demanding what is just,” Sydney Alexander, a member of the Student Government Association, said to the crowd.

  The mission of the Women’s March was to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to empower social change. Jan. 22 would have marked the 50th anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. However, seven months ago the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court. To recognize the anniversary of Roe, and to protest the abortion ban in the United States and in Missouri. 

  Jessica Miller, a student at UCM, helped organize the event within only about a week. Miller said she and Darlene Budd, Professor of Political Science and International Studies, heard about the Women’s March in Kansas City and wanted to get involved. 

  Kansas City was planning a march in collaboration with Women’s March Inc, a national left-wing advocacy organization behind the Jan. 21, 2017 “Women’s March on Washington”. 

  Miller said they planned to take a group of students to KC to participate in the march, but decided to hold it in Warrensburg instead. 

  “We knew it was possible since we have done it before,” Miller said, referring to the local demonstration for the overturning of Roe last year. “People showed up and showed out. A lot of people came, that were UCM students and local community leaders. Plus it is really good to get local communities, like Warrensburg, to get involved in something like this.

  There was an emphasis at the march about it being a local and grassroots movement. 

  Glenda Carmack, an Office Professional from the School of Natural Sciences, spoke at the march noting, “We have to do this in Warrensburg, this grassroot commitment to issues must be everywhere.”

  “We cannot let cities be the only place where our voices are heard,” Carmack said. “This county has to know that we have a right to make medical decisions about our own body.” 

  Carmack said, “Throughout my whole reproductive life, I had a right to choice. Now my daughters, and my granddaughters don’t, and that’s not acceptable.” 

  Miller worked to get Atsuki Mori, a member of the Warrensburg Diversity and Inclusion Commission, involved in the event and said she was surprised by the support she got from UCM and other community leaders. 

  Over the week of planning, Miller said she was extremely stressed trying to prepare for the march and get the word out. 

  “It was a lot of staying up all night sending emails, reaching out to all the student organizations, reaching out to community leaders and asking them to spread the word,” Miller said. 

  Sydney Alexander, a student at UCM, said, “We are here today not only to commemorate the first Roe decision, but also to support a women’s right to choose.” 

  “Student participation is monumental in making change,” Alexander said. “Students and young voters engage in what matters to them.” 

  She urged students to remain engaged, both with their voices and with their vote on issues that they care about. Alexander said that Women’s rights are not a gendered issue, but a human rights issue.  

  Henry Wambuii, a Professor of Comparative Politics and International Relations at UCM, spoke as an ally to the movement. His speech focused on the importance of democracy in the issue of reproductive rights. 

  “I am here as a father that has a daughter, I am also a brother to many sisters, an uncle to many, I am a teacher to hundreds of young women,” Wambuii said. “I am afraid for many women whose health and rights mean the world to me.” 

  He said that in the United States, there is an emphasis on democracy and the right to voice concerns. 

  “A woman’s health, not just her health, her well-being, and her ability to live happily in a democracy is that much important today,” Wambuii said. “That’s why we are joining here today.”

  He urged the community to let their voices be heard, and to listen. 

  Jessica Piper, democratic candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives, shared her own personal experience at the march. 

  “I am 47 years old, I have three grandkids, Roe was decided before I was born, it has been a decision my entire life,” Piper said. 

  She cited how Missouri was the first state to ban abortions post-Roe, as a trigger law took effect as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe. 

  Piper said the ban on abortions in Missouri could be dangerous for pregnant people trying to seek medical care, and that 3 million people in Missouri have now lost those protections. 

  She called out the young people, Piper said that young people have the power to vote and elect representatives who share these values. 

  “Sometimes when you get in gatherings like this, it doesn’t feel like much,” She said to the crowd. “But you all are so powerful in coming together, creating change and talking about change.” 

  “The only thing you can do is come together in groups like this and consolidate your power, and take that power to Jeff. City” Piper said. “Nothing changes until every single one of you stands up and does something about it.”