Still We Rise

By Glenn Northern, 73Forward Campaign Co-Director

Violence is not a solution.  It is the ultimate failure of imagination, yet we are surrounded by it. It is a tool used to terrorize people and strip them of their humanity and dignity. It robs people of their lives and autonomy, and signals to others who would step out of line that they, too, can meet the same demise. 

Whether it’s in Mariupol, where neighborhoods, maternity wards and universities are shelled, or Satilla Shores, being chased by a truck as you run through a neighborhood as a young black man, using violence, or its threat, to silence those with whom you disagree is heinous both for the lives it ends and the beginnings it prevents. Terror is intended to crush the spirit. Those who use or encourage such tools of violence are aware of their power.  They will not prevail.

Violence as a tool to quell and control the public is not new. This past month of February, Black History Month, nearly 20 HBCU’s received bomb threats. In January, congregants and the Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas were held hostage by a gunman. Another Texas Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, was set aflame late last year. We can all recall the murders in Emanuel African Methodist Church in South Carolina in 2015, gunned down while praying in church. The examples are legion.

These are not the first threats our communities have experienced. Our histories as black people, as Jewish people, as women, as trans individuals are littered with stories of violence and threats of violence against us.  Yet we are still here.

Like Maya Angelou said, “Still I Rise.” No matter who we are, where we come from, or how we pray, we have more in common than what might divide us.  This is in fact a piece about perseverance.  The story of the Jewish people is a story of survival through the ages, despite the obstacles and prejudice. The story of blacks in America has similar contours of survival despite obstacles and prejudice.  

Violence has also been used to not just silence communities and religions, but also ideas. Like the right to abortion. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 194 arsons, and over 13,500 incidents of violence and disruption that providers and patients at abortion clinics have endured.

Every year on March 10th, communities across the nation celebrate abortion providers in honor of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider in Pensacola, Florida who was brutally murdered in 1993. This year’s celebration comes less than a week after the Florida Senate callously and myopically passed a 15-week ban on abortion, a fact not lost on those of us who are fighting for justice.

During abortion provider appreciation day, NCJW Sections will join the Abortion Care Network, Liberate Abortion and other partners across the nation to express our immense gratitude to local abortion providers for their heroism.  These individuals provide compassionate care against challenging odds.

Through COVID, through state legislation designed to shut them down, through personal attacks and threats, abortion providers are the caring professionals who help people obtain an abortion amidst increasingly hostile conditions.

Still they rise.

On March 10th, we celebrate abortion providers and their perseverance in pursuit of helping those in need. 

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