I was a speaker at the 2009 Women & Power Conference, headlined by Gloria Steinem. I spoke on a panel that included First Lady of the press Helen Thomas and moderated by Paley Center CEO and former PBS head Pat Mitchell. I presented with my friend Courtney E.  Martin on young feminists today and how we are continuing the fight for women’s rights. We closed with a poem we wrote together:

To Our Feminist Foremothers

By Charreah K. Jackson and Courtney E. Martin

Inspired by the Women and Power Conference 2009 at Omega Institute

There was a time when you were young, like us, we know.

I’ve read the newspaper clippings and the books. Eyes wide from the

great disparity you endured and the great war you waged. Smile bright

from your direct link to the possibilities we enjoy today and the

battle that continues

I’ve seen the pictures, your face dappled in 60s sunlight, your head

full of possibility, your heart full of conviction. Your dreams were

giants.

I wanted to make that kind of impact and see my efforts fill medical

schools with those who could birth life.

I envied those faded photographs. They shined with such faith in

change, such vivacity of a moment ready to explode. But I am young now

and envy only gets me stuck. Instead I want to

move. Reinvent. But first, I thank you. Can you hear me? we thank you.

For feeling ok not to define myself by the man in my life. Cue our

former First Lady turned Senator then Secretary of State. We thank

you. For a chance to spend time with our babies to be and not worry if

we’ll have a job when we return. For the opportunity to cover the

foreign desk, and not just the family section. For hitting like a girl

to hurt, as you knock out sexism.

We thank you.

For Title IX and Chamomile tea, for the right to vote and rape crisis

centers, for your daily struggle to make your family reflect your

politics, even if failed, for your courage, for your outrage, most of

all for your bottomless love.

We thank you.

And we hear you, so we brought our own torches, so you can keep yours.

We fight in your names.

Look within in your wisdom.

And keep the fire built by our mothers, to be fanned by our

daughters…burning bright.

 

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