Florida A&M clubs and organizations such as Progressive Black Men, Collegiate 100, Women Student Union and many more came out on Saturday to support the third annual Tallahassee Women’s March.
The first march, held in 2017, took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration. As they did the previous two years, residents gathered in Railroad Square Art Park before a planned march to the Capitol.
The march focuses on making sure that local and state leaders are making women’s representation a high-priority issue. Along with different clubs and organizations, hundreds of FSU and FAMU students came out to march.
“My favorite part about the rally was the unity. There were so many people from many different backgrounds that came together to support this cause. I saw people that brought their kids, friends, parents and even dogs to support. It was truly an amazing event to be a part of,” Taylor Beard, a public relations major at FAMU, said.
Regina Sheridan, administrative coordinator at Florida Impact, was among the many speakers. Sheridan touched on the controversial topic of abortion. She emphasized how hard it is for women to make the decision on whether or not to get an abortion and she shared her own abortion story, explaining how difficult it was to make this choice.
Chrishelle Bailey, the secretary and student data manager for FAMU Generation Action, had an “open and honest” dialogue about mental health care access in Florida. In Florida about 660,000 adults and 181,000 children live with a serious mental illness, yet about 70 percent of the people who need mental-health treatment do not have access to it. Florida ranks No. 49 of 50 states for access to mental-health programs, spending only a mere $37 per adult on mental health care a year.
Kayla Lawson, founder of FAMU Generation Action, spoke on “marching to speak for the silenced and to shine a light on those that the higher ups can’t see, don’t see or don’t want to see.”
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Florida has the third largest state prison system in this country and currently there are 65,000 women in jail. Incarcerated women are being forced to pay for their own feminine hygiene products.
Senate Bill 332 also named “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act,” requires correctional facilities to provide incarcerated women with certain health care products. This bill also prohibits male correctional officers from conducting pat down and body cavity searches unless in immediate danger.
Lawson encourages lawmakers to vote yes on SB 332.
Asia Strong, a pre-physical therapy major at FAMU, said, “Marching with Planned Parenthood was my first march for women’s rights and healthcare reform and it was empowering. Being in such a diverse space with people who have the same views on those issues is very refreshing and it inspires me to keep hope alive for the future.”
The Indivisible Women’s Anniversary March Rally at the Capitol was cancelled due to inclement weather.