It began last year at a Christmas party. Djuna Osborne approached her friend, Leslie Cramer, disheartened by the post-election climate.
“In general, there was so much negativity, hate, and discrimination. Everything you heard felt like you had to fact check it on every side. It felt very wrong in terms of the core of American values,” recalls Leslie.
At this point, Djuna had the paperwork to begin planning the Women’s March on Roanoke. She was ready to do it by herself, expecting around 50 people to attend. Leslie offered to help, and the idea quickly gained traction on social media. On January 21, over 3000 people participated in the Women’s March on Roanoke. Around the nation, millions of women and men turned out for sister marches. Now, two months later, it is important to keep that momentum alive. Together, with a group of volunteers, Leslie and Djuna are doing just that on a local level.
With an election coming up in November that has the potential to reshape the Virginia House of Delegates, it is important that everyone is well-informed about the concerns of each candidate. Leslie and Djuna hope that, through group huddles over the coming months, they can find people who are willing to go out and canvas for Democratic candidates. The goal is to get people excited and actively engaged in the election process. Every single seat is important.
“We are not stuck like this for the next four years,” says Leslie. “Changes aren’t going to happen overnight. Coming together for these events with like-minded people can be very comforting mentally and emotionally.”
She makes an excellent point. For some of us new to the world of activism, shocked into the glaring reality of injustice that still exists—that has always existed beneath the rose-colored glasses of privilege—an overwhelming desire to make the world better for our sisters and friends is coupled with a fear of territory we haven’t explored. Attending meetings like those hosted by the Women’s March on Roanoke allow us to see that many of our neighbors are willing to stand up for equality despite their differences. When people feel that from their community, it inspires them to be brave. It can be in a setting as simple as a postcard writing party.
“[These events] consist of people making connections and having an enjoyable evening. We are absolutely trying to get a message across through the postcards, but it is also about creating camaraderie and support,” she adds.
Leslie and Djuna are involved with other organizations throughout the community like Roanoke Indivisible and Together We Will. They have open communication with the Roanoke City and Roanoke County Democratic Committees. Every action and meeting helps make sure elected officials are held accountable for their decisions and listening to their constituents.
For more information on the Women’s March on Roanoke and how you can get involved, check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.comwomensmarchonroanoke. They update it frequently with ways to stay connected as the movement evolves.
Written by Hayleigh Worgan