Charity Summers (middle) cites her faith and role as an educator as her reasons for joining in the 2017 women's march in January
Manager of the Charleston Activist Network, state leader for the S.C. chapter of the Women's March, and now the force behind the second Charleston Women's March
happening this January, Tamika "Mika" Gadsden wants Charleston to rally, but more importantly, she wants Charleston to listen.
"This rally will be a call to action," says Gadsden of the follow up to last year's 2,000 strong Women's March in Charleston. Planned for Sat., Jan. 20, the event — which has 230 people signed up, according to Facebook — will be a rally, not a march, because Gadsden wants it to be open to everyone of varying physical abilities. She also wants the event to be a platform for all women's voices. "I'm very intentional about who is invited to participate," says Gadsden. "I want to share their insights and push us forward as women. I want a voice from the trans community present, a voice from black political leadership, a voice from black student groups. Voices for the marginalized community."
Tamika "Mika" Gadsden
Gadsden says this rally will have a slightly different tone from last year's fervent war cry. After this past year, Gadsden wants Charlestonians to do more.
"This is not just about showing up and doing a thing and feeling good," she says.
The rally's theme of electoral justice means that Gadsden wants to educate and inspire the women at the rally to become more involved in the political process and civically engaged. "This past year, I've learned so much about how local and federal government works, and how to fight for change. Electoral justice means making the electoral process accessible," says Gadsden.
Gadsden says the rally will be inspiring, but also specific. It will speak to gerrymandering, the cost prohibitive nature of running for office, and what is happening in South Carolina with the state ID laws for voting. "This is why we’re here, this is what the year has brought us," says Gadsden. "We can show up in numbers, but 2018 is the time to act, to think about mobilizing folks, to get women to the polls. To hold our elected officials accountable."
While she proudly calls herself a "Jersey girl," Gadsden has deep roots in South Carolina, with ancestors buried on Wadmalaw Island. "There's a need for intersectionality," says Gadsden. "I'm familiar with Charleston and its history and the beautiful parts and also how the painful past has informed the present." Gadsden is most inspired by Septima Clark, a Charleston native and lifelong educator, who is referred to as the "queen mother" of the Civil Rights movement. This year's rally will be held in Clark's honor
"She is a huge inspiration right here in Charleston," says Gadsden. "This is for her, for her legacy, for her family. For all of what she did so women like me can vote."
The Jan. 20 rally's location is to be decided, but Gadsden is seeking permits and volunteers within the next few days. Follow the Women's March South Carolina: Rally for Electoral Justice Facebook page and the Charleston Activist Network for updates.