Field Report: Las Cruces’ Unified Community Action

On Sunday, January 21st, more than 1500 people gathered in Las Cruces’ downtown plaza to stand in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington D.C..  Of course, our editors made sure to witness but also to be involved.  According to organizers, the demonstration was initially planned to accommodate 100 – 500 people at the Southwest Environmental Center, but the numbers quickly exceeded capacity and the event moved outdoors.  Those who came were willing to brave the unpredictable weather of southern New Mexico and the wind and rain did nothing to deter the concerned numbers.

The event kicked off with a musical performance by Mark Courtney and we feel the need to reiterate a particular lyric: “This land is our land, this land is your land.”  (Or as borderland musicians Maria y Yahvi sing “Esta tierra es tuya, esta tierra es mía”). The music was followed by a number of poets, including our own NMSU faculty member Connie Voisine.  Despite the turbulence that our country is experiencing, we are comforted to know that poetry and other forms of artistic expression are alive and thriving.  In fact, the Atlantic wrote an article about the return of poetry in times of crisis.

We are so proud that this demonstration and the hundreds of sister events across the country have utilized poetry and prose to unify.  As a literary magazine, we truly believe that there are few things that bring people together like the written and spoken word.  Whether in the form of protest signs or published works read to crowds of thousands, we all have a voice worth sharing.

As the crowd grew, keynote speaker Dr. Bobbi Green from the NAACP gave a rousing and fiery speech, evoking some of the greatest names from the history of resistance, from Harriet Tubman to Cesar Chavez.  From Susan B. Anthony to Martin and Malcolm, she noted, everyone in attendance was part of an incredible lineage of the fight for equality.  This ongoing struggle transcends race, age, gender and religion.  After Dr. Green’s speech, members of the ACLU pledged their undying support to broadcast the rights and responsibilities of protesters.  The entire event hinged on the promise that this protest was absolutely peaceful and, in no way, designed to disrupt the lives of citizens not participating.  There was no blocking of traffic or harassment of the public.  The march circled downtown Las Cruces and was large enough that, as the front of the march was returning to the plaza, the end of the line was still getting ready to start.  Organizers and participants alike were thrilled to see such an incredible turnout.

As the last of the marchers finished, they filled the square again as the Singing Out Choir took the stage.  They were followed by more poets, musicians and speakers who represented LGBTQ+ rights, Native American rights, Disability rights, Environmental rights and so forth.  The event did so much more than fight for just women’s rights.  It was one of the most wholesome and inclusive actions we have ever been a part of.

We are a literary magazine and our primary concern is providing a platform for voices to be heard – in the form of poetry, prose, artwork and other previously unimagined forms.  We are committed to keeping our platform alive and supportive of all historically marginalized groups: women, people of color, LGBTQ+, religious minorities, disabled persons, impoverished communities and beyond.

We want to thank everyone who showed their support by coming out today and acknowledge the Las Cruces Coalition for Reproductive Justice, the Doña Ana County Democratic Party, Senator Tom Udall’s office, Dr. Bobbie Green, ACLUNM, Progress NOW NM, the Islamic Center of Las Cruces, Kevin Bixby, Vib Gonzalez, , Sureyya Husain, Minnie Montoya, Dr. Donald Pepion, Lucas Herndon, poets Connie Voisine, Chrasinka, Kaleb Omeg, Laurie Shade-Neff and musicians Mark Courtney, Steve Klinger, and the Las Cruces Singing Out Choir.

Also, Cassie Calway runs a helluva’ demonstration.  Through the cold, the wind and the rain, she kept the crowd engaged and active.  Never was there a quiet moment.

More information about the event can be found at KRWG and the Las Cruces Sun News.

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