Tamika Mallory has been protesting pretty much her entire life. From joining Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network at the age of 15 to working with the Obama administration on gun control legislation. As the national co-chair of the Women's March on Washington, Tamika proved that women are at the centre of the resistance against the Trump presidency. The Women's March was the largest single-day protest in US history and worldwide participation was estimated at being over 5 million. The movement sent a bold message to the new US government on its very first day in office that women's rights are indeed human rights. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.
“My name is Tamika Mallory and I am a civil right activist. Some people call me a civil rights leader.”
“When I first found out he was dead, I was so embarrassed about the whole thing.”
"... my son's father was murdered when my son was two. It's been 16 years now. When I first found out he was dead, I was so embarrassed about the whole thing. I was like, 'Oh my God, we come from these good families, we live in this nice place, and now, he's dead and someone is going to ask what he was doing and they'll find out he was involved in some type of illegal activity and he had no business being there or who were these people that he was connected to ... people are going to look down on me. I'm a single mum. I shouldn't probably have had a baby so young anyway'.
"I started to realise that there was nothing for me to be embarrassed about, that the only thing that would be embarrassing was me just sort of acting like it hadn't been revealed to me that there was something deeper going on."
Choosing a path
"I was faced with this major moment, where I could have definitely chosen the path of paralysis of just disconnecting ... But I chose not to do that because the other path was much more attractive to me – which was using his death and his life to try to save other people. And I think when you are the mother of a young male son whose father is deceased, it makes you even more committed to the struggle because you realise that it could happen twice. There's nothing stopping my son from having the same fate as his father in this moment."
"I received the phone call from a gentleman who I worked with for many years before the Women's March. He called and asked whether I would be willing to meet some other women who were involved. At that time, the numbers were over 100,000 people. The way in which I calculate numbers as a march organiser is if we say there's five people going or let's say six people who say on Facebook, 'I'm going to the march', I cut it in half.
"... when it said 100,000 people were going to attend, I saw 50 to 60,000. And then a few days later, it was up to 200,000. So I saw 100,000. And maybe a week before the March, I knew that the permit that we applied for was for 200,000 people and I knew that we were going to have more than 200,000. But still, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that there would be 5 million people marching worldwide."
The purpose of privilege
"I live in a world that people want to help me. They want to protect me. They want to make sure that I have the things that I need because they believe in me. They believe that I am a leader. So I live in a space of privilege but there are some people who are completely exposed to the system and they don't have the protection of movements that allows them to come and speak their truth. I have to fight on their behalf because for some reason, I've been given this privilege. AndI don't believe that anyone receives privilege to have it for themself ... the purpose of having privilege is to use it to better others and ensure that other communities are uplifted."
“... the purpose of having privilege is to use it to better others and ensure that other communities are uplifted.”