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Hope and Change for Haiti celebrates International Women’s Day



“How many more years do we have to wait before the Hope has literally turned into the Change that my forefathers bled and died for?” asked Representative Anastasia Williams…

Hope and Change for Haiti held their 3rd annual International Women’s Day Celebration at the State House on Friday, honoring Dr Hilary Levey Friedman, President of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW) and State Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence). The event was organized by Aniece Germain, Assistant Executive Director of Hope and Change for Haiti.

The speakers spoke about the status of women, and women of color, and called out the systemic prejudices that continue to prevent their efforts towards full rights and equality.

Germain noted that this year marks the 100th anniversary of voting rights for women before introducing the emcee, Danielle Cyprien.

“When I started thinking about what we’re going to do for International Women’s Day for this year one of the big things that came up was the fact that this is the 100 year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote,” said Dr Aswood Boousseau, an Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College School of Social Work. “And that was an amazing thing, I feel like it’s important to recognize that. Equally important is to recognize the fact that it didn’t give all women the right to vote. It did not give ALL women the right to vote…”

“While women got the right to vote, many women, particularly women of color, didn’t get to exercise that right until the Civil Rights Act of 1965,” said Beverly Wiley, the Athletics Compliance Officer for Community College of Rhode Island and the President of the Board for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. “We at the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island recognize that, and for all the inequities that women face, those that are women of color experience that bias much more deeply.”

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“I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating why is it that we as women and people of color haven’t achieved more,” said Cheryl Burrell, who has worked in various capacities for the State of Rhode Island for over four decades. “We could go back 400 years to talk about the exclusion of people, right? We know that this nation has a long history when we talk about discrimination. We need only look to the Black Codes, the Slave Codes. Those were laws that allowed for the exclusion of people.”

Poet and dancer Claude Michell Auborg presented two poems:

“We know that as women we have to work harder for access to the rights and privileges that come so easily to men,” said Dr Hilary Levey Friedman, a Brown University professor and President of RI NOW. “And I say this as someone who lives with a white man, and I’m raising two little white men, two very privileged little white men, and I’m trying to raise them to understand from the start that everyone should be treated the same, and yet I see that they move through the world in very different ways…”

“How many more years do we have to wait before the Hope has literally turned into the Change that my forefathers bled and died for?” asked Representative Anastasia Williams, who last year successfully passed her bill to codify Roe v Wade into state law. “What I’m not going to do is condone perpetrating a fraud talking about you’re with me, you’re with us, but realistically you’re the gatekeeper. I’m going to call you out.”

Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Seth Magaziner:

United States Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island):

Awards from Hope and Change for Haiti were given to Hilary Levey Friedman and Representative Anastasia Williams.

Aniece Germain wraps things up:

Representative Anastasia Williams
Dr Aswood Bousseau
Beverly Wiley
Cheryl Burrell
Claude Michelle Aubourg
Dr Hilary Levey Friedman

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.