How You Can Help More Women Get Elected in 2018
Former Planned Parenthood Exec Cecile Richards Offers Advice for Activism
If the White House, midterm elections and the pending Supreme Court nomination are stressing you out, Cecile Richards has two words for you: Make trouble. These words, also the title of Richards’ new memoir, Make Trouble: Standing up, Speaking Out and Finding the Courage to Lead, are her call to action.
“Don’t wait for instructions. If you do more than what you are doing right now, you are already helping,” Richards, the former head of Planned Parenthood, advised the audience during a conversation with writer Alexandra Styron at a recent book tour stop in Chilmark, MA, on August 5th, part of the Martha’s Vineyard Author Series.
Richards and Styron, author of the forthcoming Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, Fixing Almost Everything, covered everything from Richards’ childhood in Texas and being the daughter of the late former Texas Governor Ann Richards to the current threat to Roe v. Wade.
The Richards’ household, where the dining table was used for “sorting precinct lists” and her father David was a civil rights attorney, was unusual for conservative Dallas. Richards’ first act of rebellion was in sixth grade at public school when she refused to say the Lord’s Prayer after the Pledge of Allegiance. After two years in Washington, D.C., where her father worked on civil rights in the Justice Department, the family moved to progressive Austin, TX. Mother Ann threw off her housewife shackles, plunged into politics, and became the first female governor of Texas in 1990. Cecile Richards said her mother’s activism remains a huge influence.
“Mom said that once you get the door open, you’ll have to bring everyone with you,” Richards recalled. “Look at the Women’s March, the women involved in wildcat striking. Women are no longer waiting for a playbook.”
Richards says you shouldn’t wait for a playbook either. Call your representatives. Work on voter protection or to get out the vote. Volunteer for or donate to campaigns of women of color. Richard stressed that though a record number of women are running for office, they have limited resources.
“Knitting pussy hats is great” she says, “but voting is the whole thing. In Michigan, 750,000 women won’t vote.” Richards observed: “Women are the most powerful political force right now. Texas could be sending its first two Latinas to Congress. We need to galvanize this energy and work towards permanent change.”
Making Sure Women’s Rights are Human Rights (TheCovey, June 2018 issue)
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