Because my Great Great Grandmother, Gorina Stensby Wheeler, saw her husband trade her daughter into marriage in exchange for livestock.
Because Gorina had the courage to leave that husband, move to a new state, and set up a new life for her and her remaining children — all at a time when women Did. Not. Do. Those. Things.
Because Gorina passed that courage to her daughter Mamie, who passed that courage to her daughter Louise, who passed that courage to her daughter Donna, who passed that courage to me.
Because I have turned that courage towards the hundreds and thousands of women I have represented, and those hundreds and thousands of voices call out that they deserve better than this.
Women who were denied housing because of their national origin.
Women who were refused benefits because of their language.
Women who were underpaid by their employers because they were women.
Women who were unfairly disciplined or even fired because of their sexual orientation.
Women who were refused promotions because of their race.
Women who were taunted, isolated, and harassed because they were pregnant.
Women who were raped.
Because I shine that courage on my three nieces and one god-daughter, and I am determined to give them a better world than the one we were given.
SR, who doesn’t like to wear makeup and shouldn’t have to for the world to value her.
MB, who does like to wear makeup and shouldn’t have to fear that means she asked for it.
CJ, who dreams of everything and shouldn’t have to constrain those dreams.
NE, who dances and knows no fear, and whose joy is, as of yet, untarnished.
Because that courage empowered me to open my heart and find love and marry a wonderful man.
Because, before Loving v. Virginia, our marriage wouldn’t have been recognized by the courts.
Because love is love is love is love is love.
Because one day, if my husband and I are lucky, we will have babies.
Because those babies will grow up to be black boys and black girls.
Because the white supremacy taking root in the White House terrifies and disgusts me.
Because that hate must be Named and Fought and Denied and Decried.
Because I fear for my family and my friends and my community and my country in a way I never have before.
Because my courage, Gorina’s courage, is stronger than that fear.
Because we, together, are stronger than this.
This is Why I March.