Our greatest strength
Intersectionality lead the way during the 2019 Women's March on Tulsa
Ashley Nicole McCray—activist, scholar, and former candidate for Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner—speaks at the 2019 Women’s March on Tulsa.
DESTINY JADE GREEN
Last month, it didn’t look like the 2019 Women’s March on Tulsa was going to happen. Tired and with health issues to tend to, the previous organizers announced the annual event which had drawn thousands of demonstrators over the last two years would not be taking place. Then Crystal Ifekoya and Lee Ann Crosby stepped up. They saw the importance of keeping the wave of female empowerment moving forward while expanding the work of local non-profits that support and uplift women and girls, such as the ones they founded: Women Helping Other Women and Just a Push Foundation.
With just two short weeks to organize, Ifekoya and Crosby launched a Facebook video under the slogan “Get Involved, Ignite Unity” announcing that the 2019 Women’s March was on. Cheered on by the previous year’s organizers, they quickly pulled together an organizing committee and began to line up speakers, vendors, and organizations. Like the two previous years, the idea was not only to march and chant but to hold an activist fair to promote community involvement, engagement, and advocacy.
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, sister of slain African American motorist, Terrence Crutcher, said she would speak. Commitments came in from other speakers like Shawn Partridge, director of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Family Violence Prevention Program; Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper; motivational speaker Emeka Nnaka, who was a recent guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show; Monica Tola, anchor on the popular Spanish language television channel, Fuerza Tulsa; Nancy Leonard, vice president of American Federation of Teachers Local 6049, the union for support staff at Tulsa Public Schools, and dozens of others.
Ifekoya and Crosby became weary when the weather forecast predicted freezing temperatures and snow on the day of the march. Determined to push forward, they had a back-up plan—the march route would be shortened and the speakers would be moved to the indoor space at Living Arts. They wrote on the march’s Facebook page: “Rain, Sleet or Snow, the March is a Go!”
The march began as scheduled with representatives of the Native Nations Youth Drum Group performing an honor song for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In a bold display of intersectionality, ambassador women led the march holding signs for their respective causes: migrant and asylum defense, Black Lives Matter, harm reduction in drug use, gun control, environment justice, LBGTQ+ rights, support for federal workers, and more.
Once inside at Living Arts, the crowd of over 600 people listened to the speakers, signed up for community action with over two dozen activist organizations, bought jewelry and clothing from women-owned businesses, and participated in the interactive art installation designed by Holy Mother Collective. There was a lot of cheering and fist bumping. In the spirit of inclusivity, the event ended with open mic to allow those who may have been missed the chance to speak—a powerful reminder during this annual chorus of strong, inspiring voices that diversity is one of our greatest strengths.