Where We’ve Come From, Where We Are

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still. Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
– President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21 2013

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Seneca Falls

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation–in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

– “The Declaration of Sentiments,” Seneca Falls Convention, 1848

We, as SBS girls, may live in a place where our voices can be heard, but in the outside world, women are often silenced. The oppression of women is not just a foreign issue, but increasingly present in the United States, where supposedly, “all citizens are created equal.” My frustration towards our gender’s oppression has inspired me to spread awareness to the SBS community… Ultimately I decided to create a Women’s Film Series, in which I would air inspiring documentaries and movies about the struggles of women around the world and the women who have led in the fight for equality… When this Film Series has finished, I hope that this community will have been inspired to become women’s activists and strive to seek change around the world.
– Mary P. ’13, Stoneleigh-Burnham School student, “Women’s Film Series Project at SBS”, January 17, 2013

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Selma

Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now. Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us… The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us… We are moving to the land of freedom.
Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream. Let us march on segregated housing until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and Negroes and whites live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and Negroes and whites study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.
Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat… Let us march on ballot boxes, until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda…
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again….” How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our God Is Marching On“, March 25, 1965

What is going on today? We, 48 years later, are still dreaming. We, 48 years later, are facing racism and many other discriminatory ideologies. We, 48 years later, are living in a country where one’s appearance can override one’s soul.
Yet we, 48 years later, still have time.
Let’s not wait any longer. Let us rise and overcome. Let us act upon what we know is fair, what is just. Let there be no more Rodney Kings, no more Sean Bells, no more Trayvon Martins.
Let there be change.
Let us wake up, because I am positive that we can, and we will stop dreaming.

– Nafisatou M., Stoneleigh-Burnham School student, January 21, 2013

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Stonewall

We all [i.e. the LGBT community] had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of [crap]. It wasn’t anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration…. Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us…. And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom. We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.
– Michael Fader, quoted in “Stonewall Riots” (Wikipedia)

The world would be a better place if everyone had the right to be themselves, including people who have a creative gender identity and expression. Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends.
Transgender kids like me are not allowed to go to most schools because the teachers think we are different from everyone else. The schools get afraid of how they will talk with the other kids’ parents, and transgender kids are kept secret or told not to come there anymore. Kids are told not to be friends with transgender kids, which makes us very lonely and sad.
When they grow up, transgender adults have a hard time getting a job because the boss thinks the customers will be scared away. Doctors are afraid of treating transgender patients because they don’t know how to take care of them, and some doctors don’t really want to help them. Transgender patients like me travel to other states to see a good doctor.
It would be a better world if everyone knew that transgender people have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. We like to make friends and want to go to school. Transgender people want to get good jobs and go to doctors like they are exactly the same. It really isn’t that hard to like transgender people because we are like everyone else.

– Sadie, 11-year-old transgender girl, from her letter to President Obama following the inauguration

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All of the Above
Wept hearing Obama mention Stonewall/Selma/Seneca in same breath. W/o all 3, I wouldn’t exist as a trans woman of color.
Janet Mock, Twitter posting

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Filed under Gender, On Education, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

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