I posted the wrong version of this story earlier today — and omitted photos. The correct date of the march is next Sunday — March 26. Here is the version with photos. My apologies!
It seems like decades. But it’s only been a few weeks since the beginning of the Trump administration.
That’s when Darcy Hicks was getting tired of her worldly concerns being confined to Facebook feeds.
She knew a few others. Soon, 10 friends assembled in her Westport home, to write postcards to politicans.
That grew to a group of 40 Westporters. All said the same thing: How can we be more active?
A couple of days later, “06880”‘s Friday Flashback highlighted Kathie Motes Bennewitz’s story about the Equal Franchise League. Way back in 1913, women demanded suffrage — and marched — right here in Westport.
As Darcy’s postcard group grew into (yes) a Facebook page — DefenDemocracy of CT — a few members reacted with nostalgia. As they met in kitchens, they shared stories of their own pasts as activists, and the role of Westport and Connecticut in activism.
Lauren Soloff, Lisa Bowman and Darcy Hicks, all actively engaged.
Lauren Soloff Malowitz — Darcy’s neighbor when she moved back here 23 years ago — had marched for women’s right to choose. Lisa Bowman — who drove to Pennsylvania with Darcy 8 years ago, to knock on doors during Barack Obama’s first presidential run — had grown up marching with her parents, against nuclear weapons.
Nita Prasad had been very active as a Berkeley student. She helped shut down the San Francisco Bay Bridge after the Rodney King verdict, and raised funds for Oxfam.
Darcy Hicks (front right) demanded that Smith College divest from South Africa — and made the cover of this Newsweek campus publication.
As a student herself, Darcy helped take over the Smith College administration building, until trustees divested from the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The women are still active, in a variety of ways.
Nita — a professor of world history at Quinnipiac University — helps mobilize students and faculty in support of the national popular vote project.
After a long career in broadcasting, Lisa has been a fundraiser for the Democratic State Central Committee and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
Lauren, a lawyer, fundraises for Homes With Hope. Darcy teaches children in Bridgeport and New Haven in Visual Literacy, an arts and language skills program she developed at Yale.
Darcy’s group wondered what their own kids — and others — who are so addicted to social media were learning about activism and social engagement. They decided that if a group of Westport women could march in 1913 — despite what must have been formidable obstacles — then they could do the same.
So on Sunday, March 26, a “CT on the Move March to Defend Democracy — One Small State, One Big Voice” march is set for downtown Westport. It begins at noon at Jesup Green, and ends at Veterans Green. Senator Chris Murphy is the keynote speaker.
“The idea is to celebrate Westport’s history of fighting for change,” Darcy says.
“Westport has often lived up to Connecticut’s ‘Constitution State’ nickname. From our revolutionary history to the examples we set advocating for abolition, women’s rights, civil rights and more, we are a community that does not stay quiet when we want change.”
This is more than a political rally, Darcy explains. “Really, it’s a reminder to all of us that we are part of a very special community — one that is fortunate, but that cares for those who aren’t. That is patriotism.”
Since first publicizing the march, Darcy’s group has joined with many others, new and established: Indivisible, Love in Action, 203 Action, Pantsuit Nation CT, the Westport Democratic Town Committee, and Staples High School’s Young Democrats and Social Activism clubs.
Darcy and her band of once-and-future activists are excited to be back in action.
They’re even more excited that younger folks — like Staples senior Lulu Stracher — are joining them.
“This is one generation showing a younger one that real change needs to happen outside of social media,” Darcy says.
“Engagement lives on. We look forward to passing the torch!”
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Lauren Soloff at a Planned Parenthood rally, back in the day. She’s third from the left (not counting President Reagan), standing next to Vice President Bush.