Advocating for Zonta International Issues –
What does it mean to be political and non-partisan?
by Maggie Calica, Service and Advocacy Chair, District 8
While advocating is acting on an issue, I’ve noticed some individuals or clubs have concerns about being “too political.” Honestly though, what major decisions are NOT political? Hmm, public schools and colleges receive money through Federal, State and Local money. Congressional leaders decide how much money should flow to schools from the Federal government; State legislators determine how much State money should go to individual school districts and a Local school board determines how to use that money if it’s not earmarked and decide whether to run supplemental levies or bonds.
All decisions made by elected officials — that’s right, by politicians.Let’s consider taxes — Federal Income Tax, State Income Tax, property tax, sales tax… all decisions made by political entities and elected officials. That’s right; it’s political. What other things are political? Let’s name a few – Equal Rights Amendment, Equal Pay, Human Trafficking Laws, Road Improvements, EPA, Department of Interior, Social Security, Health Care and the list goes on and on. It’s all Political. Therefore, we must engage in the political process. So, what’s the point?
Our theme is GIVE HER A VOICE. We must engage in the political process to deliver that voice – demonstrating, informational picketing, writing letters to our Congressional and State representatives as well as our local elected officials to let them know where we stand and what we want as an outcome. Have I mentioned any political party? No, because whether you lean conservative or liberal we all must take a stand on issues that are important to our mission and goals.
As an example, here are three dynamic women who have made a significant impact by participating in the political process and advocating for issues that were important to them. I had the privilege of hearing Delores Heurta in person a few years back. She is a vibrant and dynamic woman! What will you and your club to GIVE HER A VOICE?
- Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.  Wikipedia On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement.
- Dolores Huerta may only be five feet tall and weigh 100 pounds, but she is a powerhouse for social change. Born in New Mexico in April 10, 1930, she has spent her life fighting to improve the standard of living for farm workers and battled discrimination. Huerta co-founded the nation’s largest farm worker’s union and was the first woman in U.S. history to organize and lobby on behalf of migrant workers. Her phrase, “Si se puede!” – “Yes, we can” became a rallying cry for farm workers everywhere.
- Karen Gay Silkwood (February 19, 1946 – November 13, 1974) was an American chemical technician and labor union activist known for raising concerns about corporate practices related to health and safety of workers in a nuclear facility. Following her mysterious death, which received extensive coverage, her estate filed a lawsuit against chemical company Kerr-McGee, which was eventually settled for $1.38 million. She worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, United States. Silkwood’s job was making plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods. This plant experienced theft of plutonium by workers during this era. She joined the union and became an activist on behalf of issues of health and safety at the plant as a member of the union’s negotiating team, the first woman to have that position at KerrMcGee. In the summer of 1974, she testified to the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. For three days in November, she was found to have plutonium contamination on her person and in her home. That month, while driving to meet with David Burnham, a New York Times journalist, and Steve Wodka, an official of her union’s national office, she died in a car crash under unclear circumstances.