Chico >> First, they marched, then they ran for office, and now women celebrated.
Women of all backgrounds and allies gathered to celebrate womanhood through activism, song, dance and a shared meal for International Women’s Day.
The Saturday brunch hosted at the Chico Women’s Club was put on by the same individuals monumental in the Chico Women’s March which was organized earlier this year as women continue to press for progress, said Ali Meder Knight, a local Native activist who helped facilitate the gathering.
“It’s important to engage women of color,” Meders Knight said. “International Women’s Day is an opportunity to allow women of color to have a voice and presence in Chico. I’m a tribal member, and it’s important for women to promote their culture and be included in a Chico event.”
Members from Stonewall Alliance, the Peace and Justice Center, Justice for Desmond, along with some vendors were set up in support for Women’s Day.
Cathryn Carkhuff of Pedal Press was printing a design that acknowledged how Chico is on Mechoopda territory. The mobile screen printing setup was printing the design crafted by fellow Pedal Press founder, Julia Murphy.
Thursday, a small celebration was held at Chico State Universityhonoring the power of women on the actual International Women’s Day.
A spread of food catered by community members was set up for many to enjoy Saturday. Members of the Mechoopda tribe also donated fresh salmon that was cooked up.
The community potluck was intended to further extend the festivities from Thursday with spoken word, musical performances, and community speakers that included various Chico women running in the primaries.
Student activists from Inspire School of Arts and Sciences, Chico High School, Chico Junior High and Chico State hopped on the mic to collectively expressed their concerns for gun control, called for a change, and stressed to be heard despite their youthfulness.
Though the message behind each speaker was compelling, the displays of art shared throughout the afternoon were most profound amongst all the speakers.
Feet stomped while hands clapped and hips swiveled as a strong rhythm section pulsated. “We are here together. We are here as one,” echoed through the Chico Women’s Club as performers invited seated guests to join them on the dance floor. Skirts were passed out for those who chose to dance in colorful garb.
“We must continue to do this in our community,” said performer Emmanuelle Sainte to the audience. “We are raising the next generation in Butte County, and you have to fight with music and drums.”
Nearly all patrons were dancing in a circle.
“We still have a worldwide movement for women to change not only what’s going on in politics but also what’s going on around the world.” Meder Knight said. “These are the friendships you forge so you can be an alliance and help other people.”