By Candy Matzke, RN
MNA Member, GAC Commissioner
January 19, 2019. It feels like last weekend and yet so far away! I was a proud MNA member who joined nurses from all over the country, as well as may other coalitions. We were mainly women-oriented or justice-oriented activists, and I saw men there too with pink, feminist hats and t-shirts stating they were supporters of the movement of women and their causes.
Because of the shutdown, when I got to DC, there was no traffic. There were no tourists visiting the Smithsonian. It was a strange feeling, until I saw my peeps, the NNU nurses, my fellow MNA nurses, the “Me too” movement, the Black Lives Matter folks, Planned Parenthood, my LGBTQ and IA Now folks (inclusion and unity). I will never forget all the signs. “You tweet, we march.” “End the Shutdown,” was NNU’s message. “Union Women are Powerful Women.” “When women workers rise up, we all win.” “The Future is Medicare for All.”
The people who are MNA and NNU’s social justice arms number many, and we were all represented in D.C. that day. The power and ambience were palpable. People of all genders, all cultures, all backgrounds, all beliefs were represented, and we had two common threads: social justice and social rights.
The feelings were many: anger, frustration, sadness, but also of vigor and empowerment to do the right thing. That is to say what is right and just. That is our voice as nurses, whether we use it at our hospital or for global issues, including climate, justice, and healthcare for all.
My “Medicare for All” sign and my “End the Shutdown” sign were all I needed, but the California nurses graciously handed me a pink hat as well to protest the misogyny of the leadership of our country right now. All the wrongs about our leadership literally rang true each time a “baby Trump” balloon was let go into the air as the crowd would roar every time this happened. The focus shifted to registering voters, female political candidates and urging us to get politically involved.
A trip I will never forget- keep moving forward!