Inauguration Weekend Blog, Videos

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Look for video and blogs beginning Sunday a.m. posted by editor in chief Rita Henley Jensen, Washington bureau chief Allison Stevens, managing editor Jennifer Thurston and African American maternal health editor Kimberly Seals-Allers.

Tuesday, Jan. 20

3 p.m.

5 p.m.

Code Pink celebration at Sidamo Coffee and Tea, 417 H St. NE.

Anti-war women’s group Code Pink was an active presence at President Barack Obama’s inauguration this week.

About 65 women from the group brought their trademark feather boas and anti-war chants to the nation’s capital, where they staked out the White House and spots on his parade route to chant, “Yes we can stop war.”

In a press release, national media coordinator Jean Stevens said they want to remind Obama to “keep your promise” about ending the war. These promises include pulling troops out of Iraq, communicating with Iran and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Their last event, a 3 p.m. rally today outside the White House, included a can-can dance with the lyrics “Yes we can-can stop war.”

The group also draped a pink vertical banner on the parade route that read, “Yes we can end war” and performed a synchronized can-can dance Jan. 17 outside Union Station when Obama was scheduled to arrive in Washington.

Last week, Code Pink launched “Remind Obama,” a Web site that lists seven campaign promises Obama made about ending war and promoting peace.

–Alison Bowen

10 a.m.

3 p.m.

Swearing-in ceremony and parade

In spite of the wintry chill and cold snaps of wind, the imposing expanse of the Capitol dome and a sea of some 2 million people, Tuesday morning’s inaugural ceremony had the feel of a small-town Fourth of July.

Reporters hopped in tune to the United States Marine Band’s renditions of John Phillip Sousa’s marches (in part because of their snappy tunes but also to get the blood circulating through frozen toes). Choruses sang traditional anthems like the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” And the Capitol was draped in giant swatches of red, white and blue, while throngs of patriots waved their flags down the long stretch of the National Mall.

President Obama’s inauguration gave a mob of millions the feel of a close-knit community.

It was a particularly appropriate tone for a man who campaigned on bringing people together. And it had special resonance for women, who lost an opportunity to put the first woman in the White House last year but have a man today who is reaching out to them.

That was evident in Obama’s inaugural address, in which he said, “The time has come. . . to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

Obama is expected to support a number of measures that will expand women’s rights, not least of which is legislation that passed the House earlier this month that will help women earn equal pay for equal work. It is support for these kinds of measures that won him a rare general-election endorsement from the National Organization for Women in Washington, D.C., and prompted Ms. magazine to emblazon its cover this month with a picture of Obama ripping off his shirt a la Superman. Underneath his Oxford, a T-shirt reads: “This is What a Feminist Looks Like.”

As the nation’s first African American president, Obama has been praised for bridging racial divides; helping people of all colors feel as full participants in the American community. And even though he’s not the first female president, it may be something he can do for the sexes as well.

–Allison Stevens


Inauguration Watch Party

Brunch and Mimosas with The White House Project and ‘Daily Show’ co-creator Lizz Winstead at Caroline’s on Broadway in New York.

At Caroline’s, a comedy club in Manhattan, comedian Lizz Winstead was on hand to loosen up the crowd for the benefit of the nonpartisan White House Project, which in the past 10 years has trained around 6,000 women across the country to run for political office in the “Vote, Run, Lead” program.

“America does need a woman president!” Winstead said as cheers broke out. “Pakistan breaks the ceiling and beats us. Pakistan. Really?!?”

During the 2008 campaign the number of women registering for the trainings rose by 50 percent.

As the room filled with supporters eager to watch the inauguration, Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project, announced the organization’s next goal: training another 36,000 women by 2013 so the pipeline to political office is brimming with them.

A graduate of a White House Project training, Michelle Wright, from nearby Pelham, N.Y., was also at the event.

Wright is currently a homemaker and full-time student. She took the trainings in 2006, which prepare would-be candidates for talking to reporters, debating and developing a campaign platform. Even though she may not run for political office, she says the trainings taught her that political activism can take many forms. After she finishes college, she wants to start a nonprofit group to help women affected by domestic violence.

“I want everyone to catch Obama Fever,” Wright said. “Don’t think anything is too small or too little. You can change anything.”

–Jennifer Thurston

9:00 a.m.

3:00 p.m.

CODEPINK Activists to hand out pink “promises” ribbons to crowd and photograph parade-goers with ribbons and signs along parade route.
Monday, Jan. 19
11:00 a.m.

Day of Service The opportunity to feed homeless women was popular among volunteers, however, the Dinner Program for Homeless Women was not alerted that the program was on the list of places to go. Twenty volunteers from New York and a camera crew looking for news appeared with no warning asking a surprised and overburdened staff what to do. Not wishing to add to the chaos, Women’s eNews editor made a tentative appointment to interview the executive director Erika Barry after the inaugural parade.

 

Sunday, Jan. 18
EMILY’s List Inaugural Luncheon

 

 

EMILY’S LIST TOASTS POLITICAL WOMEN

For members of EMILY’s List, an influential political action committee dedicated to expanding women’s political power, the inauguration could have been a bittersweet moment.

Two years ago, Sen. Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and on her way to becoming the first woman to win the White House. And although women picked up seats in Congress last November, they fell short of some observers’ highest hopes. The year 2008, in short, was no 1992, known as the “Year of the Woman.”

Disappointment was nowhere on display on Sunday, however, at an inaugural luncheon hosted by EMILY’s List in Washington, D.C. Some 2,000 supporters squeezed into a hotel ballroom in Dupont Circle to kick off the inaugural weekend and toast those female candidates who did win, such as North Carolina Democrats Gov. Bev Perdue and Sen. Kay Hagan, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

They also came to cheer those who have been tapped to serve in the Obama administration, such as incoming Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano and Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis.

The loudest applause went to none other than Clinton, who made it clear that even though women didn’t break through the ultimate glass ceiling last November, they will have a fierce new advocate in the State Department, where Clinton is slated to serve as the nation’s top diplomat.

As secretary of state, Clinton said, she would work for universal education for girls and boys, better access to reproductive health care and more programs to help women in developing countries launch their own businesses. She also wants to combat trafficking and repression of women and girls around the world.

“When I look around the world, what I see is that for too many women and girls the glass ceiling is poverty that limits their dreams, hunger that rips their stomachs, diseases that shorten their lives and repression that rapes their spirits,” she told the audience, adding: “I believe it is essential that we renew America’s leadership on behalf of women and girls.”

 

The EMILY’s List luncheon will celebrate the inauguration of President-elect Obama and the two pro-choice female Democratic governors, two new pro-choice Democratic women in the U.S. Senate, and 12 new pro-choice Democratic women in the U.S. House.

Saturday, Jan. 17

The People’s Inaugural Women’s Leadership Luncheon

Two women’s gatherings on Saturday in Washington, D.C., featured many of the stars of the movement from the 1970s and young women as well. Regardless of the different points of view from what was called the Moses generation and the Jordan generation (as in crossing the river of), the mood was celebratory and anxious too.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois opened the leadership luncheon with a commitment to get the gender bias laws changed, including the Lilly Ledbetter Act that will give women more time to file a complaint. (More videos from this and other events are posted at Women’s eNews’ channel on YouTube.)

However, a panelist at the women’s leadership luncheon coined the short-hand term for the two generations. Malika Saada Saar, executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, served on Obama’s women’s policy committee during the campaign. She used the designation of Jordan generation to convey that while the previous generation provided leadership through the decades, the Obama generation was going to carry women much further along to the promised land of full human rights.

Even feminist icon Gloria Steinem joined in the references to religious touchstones. She opened her bit for a panel discussion at the luncheon with a surprising reference to religious faith.

“Sweet Jesus, free at last, free at last,” Steinem said, although she prefaced her remarks with the advisory that she was an atheist.

“I feel like a stone has been lifted off our heads and now our imaginations can soar!”

She added that we had to continue to move forward on child care and national health care and emphasized that the women’s movement must continue to intensely lobby President Obama for policies that assist women, to “make him do it,” as progressives pressured Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The sharp-tongued Eleanor Holmes Norton, a delegate to Congress now in her 10th term representing the District of Columbia, emphasized how much has yet to be done, particularly in the areas of changing the tax code to support changes in the health care system and child care.

“Not everyone has a mother-in-law,” she said, an apparent reference to Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, 71, moving in to the White House.

Those two, from what was jokingly referred to as the Moses generation, were focused more on the nuts and bolts. Three speakers from what was referred to as the Jordan generation urged the audience to “think big.”

A new member of Congress from Maryland, Donna E. Edwards, stated emphatically that “everyone wants to work at a living wage, not a minimum wage, and to live in peace.”

Obama delegate Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, spoke to the needs of women “whose voices were not heard during the past eight years about their health needs.”

The question of whether women in the United States had basic human rights was the focus of Rebecca Project’s Saada Saar. When she referred to the number of women in prison who are required to wear shackles during childbirth, the audience audibly took in their breath as one.

“We need to break the cradle-to-prison pipeline,” she said, which would require “new narratives, new symbols, new long-view thoughts and vision.”

Later, at the National Council of Women’s Organizations Ball the dancing, music and laughter made no distinction between the generations.

Icons Eleanor Smeal, head of the Feminist Majority; Kathy Spillar, publisher of Ms. magazine; and Martha Burke, former president of the Council of Women’s Organizations and frequent contributor to Ms., were chortling over the CNN piece that featured an attack on the magazine’s current cover.

Spillar was explaining how her team created an image of Obama with a T-shirt proclaiming: “This is what a feminist looks like.” The broadcast criticism brought the issue unprecedented publicity, and Spillar laughed, “orders are pouring in for the poster.”

“The word ‘feminist’ is now hip,” Spillar said. Judging by the young crowd dancing through the evening, she may indeed be right.

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