Chain of Solidarity Women United
Led by Cleveland activist and organizer Kathy Wray Coleman of the Imperial Women Coalition, greater Cleveland women hosted the 5th Annual International Women's Day March Cleveland rally and march on March 8 on Market Square in Cleveland.
Keynote speakers for the rally were state Rep. Emilia Sykes, who is also the minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives and leads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley, and activist Queen Fatima Chui of Cleveland.
Both Whaley and Sykes spoke on the oppression of women as community activists stood with them on stage wrapped in symbolic chains to bring attention to the long term oppression of women.
Whaley also spoke on her opposition to stand your ground legislation in Ohio and gun violence, including the high profile mass shooting in Dayton in 2019 by 24-year-old Connor Betts, who shot and killed nine people and injured 17 others.
Chui pushed womanhood and sisterhood during her speech, saying International Women's Day is to celebrate women of all races and ethnic backgrounds and that "it an't no hood like a sisterhood."
International Women's Day was first recognized globally in 1911.
Events were held across the world on March 8 to celebrate International Women's Day, a day of civil awareness for women worldwide that is designed to combat sex and race discrimination and promote women's rights.
The purpose was also to recognize the accomplishments of women, and to push for public policies across the board for the betterment of women and girls.
The theme of this year's march in Cleveland was #ChoosetoChallenge.
The MC for the event was Elaine Gohlstein, president of the Black Women's PAC of greater Cleveland.
Other speakers included state Rep Juanita Brent of Cleveland Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shontel Brown, State Sen. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Cleveland Ward 1 Councilman Joe Jones, Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists Co-Vice President Rhonda Crowder, activists Carol Steiner and Cheryl Lessin of Refusefacism. org, activist Alfred Porter Jr., President of Black on Black Crime, activist Delores Gray of the Brickhouse Wellness Center, the Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts, and Nate Simpson of Blacks Lives Matter Today.
The first Black woman to lead the county Democratic party, Brown said that the fight for equality for women is never-ending and that women will continue to be a force to reckon with on public policy matters across the board.
The issues for the event were COVID-19 disparities relative to women. These issues included: Blacks and people of color, women in leadership and journalism, sisterhood, mass incarceration and the legal system, stand your ground legislation in Ohio, violence against women, reproductive rights, immigration, gun violence and excessive force, LGBTQ rights, racism, sex discrimination, voting rights, and local, county, state and national policies impacting women.
The women also said a prayer for all of the fallen Black and other women of Cleveland who have died because of heinous violence, including the 11 Black women murdered on Imperial Avenue on the city's east side by serial killer Anthony Sowell, who died last month in prison while on death row.