3rd Annual Women’s March Celebration 2019

PORT JERVIS – They carried signs in all shapes, colors, and words, but their messages were united in a mission of outreach and intention to make changes and betterment in lives.

Women, families, and the planet overall were number one topic for nearly 200 participants in Port Jervis’ 3rd Annual Women’s March Celebration 2019. The event was hosted for a third year by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and organized by Coordinator Patty Baughman.

Baughman praised participants for turning out to be involved in the peaceful event, urging all to remain positive even if confronted by any negativity during a march that followed presentations in the church.

Speakers in the church included local environmental and social justice activist Melissa Martens, who called hers a ‘privileged generation’ and pledged her own efforts to help protect and preserve the planet for her children’s generation and beyond.

N’Senga Kinzonzi

Rev. Anne Akers of 1st Presbyterian Church in Port Jervis said she is tired of hearing religious rights having the lion’s share of the air waves with hateful beliefs in the name of God.

“The world’s moral compass is off kilter, wouldn’t you say? They do not speak in the name of the God I know and follow. The God I know is a God of love. The God I know is a God of mercy. The God I know is a God of justice. And outrage at the way some people, lots of people, are treated,” Akers said. “Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream; a dream that we will find ways to talk across the lines of difference, not matter what they are. And as Ghandi said, be the change you want to see, the change you want.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, State Senator Jennifer Metzger, Shannon Wong of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Nicole Kinzonzi advocating for racial equality, Mackenzie Bacher of Safe Homes, Michele McKeon of CEO of RECAP, and N’Senga Kinzonzi, each spoke of equality and other issues of importance to women and communities. Gunther and Metzger were each credited with sponsoring and supporting legislation in support of women’s equality and rights.

N’Senga Kinzonzi drew a standing ovation, and tears, as she told a riveting story of herself and others being bullied with hate crimes in school, the impact on their lives, and what the view as a lack of punishment and ways to stop this from happening to others.

“On October 10th a classmate took a picture of me, without my knowledge, accompanied by hateful captions and sent it to another student. After overhearing a conversation between the two, I was appalled to see the caption and saddened by the content and ignorance the thought that this could be a joke, “Kinzonzi said. “My little sister, at eight, had a similar experience. A boy had drawn a picture of her as a monkey falling into an open grave on fire and claimed it was her. Another boy chimed in that this was true. There was no punishment, and my sister was left with the pain. In another incident in my school, a girl was threatened by members of the football team that she would be raped. And another girl, because she is Jewish, had pennies thrown at her.”

Kinzonzi said these incidents in her Minisink Valley school were all similar, lacking the punishment to prevent similar hate crimes from being repeated. She quoted solutions credited to Dr. Martin Luther King that she urged be applied to stop them.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. Just like adding flame to a fire will not extinguish it; only by adding its greater opposite, water, will it cease to exist,” Kinzonzi said.

Following these and other presentations, the group marched down East Main and Pike Streets, throughout downtown Port Jervis on Jersey Avenue, up Fowler Street and back on East Main to the church.

“I definitely feel it was a ‘10’ day! What we set out to accomplish was accomplished. People were connected, people felt community, and activists were ignited!” Baughman said.

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