By: Nardeen Saleep, Egg Harbor Township High School
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — On Saturday, January 18, 2020, the second annual Atlantic City Women’s March took place in the momentous Boardwalk Hall in order to commemorate Fannie Lou Hamer, who spoke in the same Boardwalk Hall in 1964 and was kicked out of the building for her controversial words. Today, women across the country honor her legacy and celebrate her bravery, especially in Atlantic City, where she will never be forgotten.
Although the march was moved indoors due to weather circumstances, the energy and spirit did not falter. Women, and others, spanning across many ethnicities and ages were in attendance, all working together in raising their voices during powerful chants and marching around the room with empowering signs. They even had a dance to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in order to lighten the mood and have some fun at this already joyous event.
After the festivities, many speakers came to the stage to discuss different issues that affect women on a daily basis. One such woman, Campaign Lead at the CWA and senior advisor of the Atlantic City Women’s March Estina Baker, shed some light on the issue of the gender wage gap, exclaiming, “As women, we know that we make less on the dollar than men do, but your black, brown, and Asian sisters make even less than that. We can no longer have disparities within the disparity.”
However, she did not leave the audience feeling defeated. Baker assured them that women of different races would stand together to fight for each other and that nothing could hold them back. After all, “The power of the people is greater than the people in power,” Baker stated.
Continuing this theme of strength in unity, Pamela Thomas-Fields, Stockton University professor and Atlantic City employee in the department of Planning and Economic Development, spoke about what it takes to stand together and fight for women’s equality in 2020. She advocated for peaceful methods, saying, “Together we rise, when we embrace diversity in our communities. Together we rise, when we treat one another with respect, honor, and dignity.” The crowd was enthralled by her words and cheered for every last one.
In the end, the event’s hosts, New Jersey Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake and Atlantic County Freeholder and congressional candidate Ashely Bennett, gave short, conclusive speeches and left the crowd feeling inspired. Timberlake recognized all the progress that has been made and advocated for continuing this progress in the future through the next generation. She explained, “It’s about inspiring and using what it is that you have to help the next generation to continue to fight for what’s right.”
Timberlake was not the only one who felt this way, as Freeholder Ashley Bennett also had something to say about helping others. After constantly being denied a metaphorical seat at the table, she developed a philosophy to combat this injustice. “They say if you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair, but I say bring two: one for you and the woman who’s coming behind you,” Bennett declared. That is exactly what she is hoping to do in her campaign to be the newest congressional representative of New Jersey’s second district.
Although the Women’s March lasted hours, neither the crowd nor the speakers felt the time go by as they enjoyed every minute of the event. In the end, they had all come together as one unit with one voice, fighting for one simple cause: women. As long as the issues they spoke of persist, they will continue to raise their voices and stand up for what they see is right, because as the slogan says, Together We Rise.