Local News

Black Women Prove Point in Philly

Posted October 25, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It rained, but it didn't stop them. They marched from the liberty bell to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, united in their purpose to add a new, black perspective to the national women's right movement.

"The rain has come to shower gifts upons us because we stand today as jewels," says march founder, Phile Chionesu. "We stand as one."

You can't win the numbers game, but there's no disputing the fact that African American women were together Saturday in mind, in body and in spirit. They wanted to change the way they are treated in the United States. Now they know how.

In a mood of celebration and revival, thousands of black sisters, mothers, daughters and wives from dozens of states united for a day of spiritual uplifting.

The million women March focused on human right, abuse against blacks and the essential roll that black women play in the lives of those around them.

"You're never going to find out what's wrong with the children until you find out what's wrong with the mother," explains Sister Souljah.

There are all sorts of signs, posters and banners to buy, but some of the most telling messages are the ones marchers brought from home. They're simple messages: peace and love.

Stella Adams of Durham brought her 13-year-old daughter Danielle along. She wants to give her a legacy to identify with in future years. Two years ago, Adams' husband went to the million man march with their son.

Other women from the Triangle simply enjoy the privilege of being together for mutual support and uplift. For them, seeing the enormous crowd of African American women standing shoulder to shoulder was a transforming experience.

Phyllis Hestor of Durham says she felt a spiritual touch that brought tears to her eyes.

The theme was empowerment and how to get it. Representative Maxine Waters of California believe it will take a collective power to shape public policy, fight racism, favoritism and "old boy" networkism.

"Whatever your demons are," says actress Jada Pinkett, "you need the tools to get ride of them. Women, read!"

The speakers at the million woman march were almost as diverse as the crowd. They were loving the marchers, praising them, even chastising them. The highlighted speaker was Winnie Mandela.

Organizers say over 2 million women came to the rally. Police rangers estimated 300,000 to a million people were there. Whatever the actual number, the million woman march made its statement: black women are committed to improving the way they are treated in America.