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National NOW Times >> Spring 2009  >> Article

NOW Chapters Take Action for Equality Across the U.S.

By Ali Rodway, Field Organizer

Ask An Activist!

Q: How do YOU get more active members and leaders in your chapter?

A: "As simple as it sounds, we have name tags at every meeting and event with your length of membership or 'guest' printed below your name. This allows our active members to identify and engage our newer or potential members and ask them to join, and [to learn] what they are interested in." Janet Kuhn, Southern Nevada NOW

A: "Don't just do what has always been done. Different [and new] members want different things. Diversity breeds diversity. Have a wide array of events to attract a wide array of new members." Allison Hall, College of Charleston Campus Affiliate

NOW activists are on the go! In every corner of the country, NOW continues to be a driving force for equality for women and girls. There are countless stories of women gathering together to fight for the issues that matter -- equal pay, health care for all, lesbian rights, reproductive justice, ending violence against women, and many more.

In an effort to inspire, share and collaborate, NOW activists in Nevada, South Carolina and Mississippi shared their stories with the National NOW Times.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, feminists are taking action to protect women and families. Southern Nevada NOW is a consistently active chapter that uses political activism to fight for the rights and needs of women. By coupling domestic violence vigils with grassroots lobbying efforts, this chapter has taken an active role in changing the political climate in Nevada.

The College of Charleston (S.C.) campus NOW affiliate organizes a variety of events

Photo courtesy of Allison Hall

The College of Charleston (S.C.) campus NOW affiliate organizes a variety of events, including performances of the Vagina Monologues. Left to right: Rachel Page (vice president), Allison Hall (president), Rachel Reinke and Nicole Jane Darden (secretary).

For the 2008 election, NOW activists hosted four forums across the state to highlight the platforms of Family Court judge candidates. And their hard work paid off: With hundreds of people attending these events, it's no wonder the candidate with the best women's rights record won.

School is in! At the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., the young feminists in the NOW campus affiliate are pulling out all the stops to bring feminism onto campus. From writing letters to state representatives to putting on performances of the Vagina Monologues, these women are on the move.

This group is one of many terrific NOW campus affiliates in the country, raising money for the chapter and its causes, as well as fostering community and bringing feminists together through music. In fact, President Allison Hall notes that their most successful events are benefit concerts.

Mississippi NOW protests Prop 8

Photo courtesy of Stacey Aldridge

Mississippi NOW protests Prop 8. Left to right: Jenni Smith, MS NOW state president; Ashley Jackson, Jackson Area NOW chapter president; Stacey Aldridge, MS and Jackson Area vice president of Outreach & Communication; and Elizabeth Pellegrine, Starkville NOW chapter president.

Mississippi has a long history of activists organizing against oppression, and the women of Mississippi NOW carry on that tradition. Devastated by the passing of the anti-marriage ballot measure Proposition 8 in California, Mississippi NOW activists took to the streets along with the rest of the country as hundreds of thousands of people marched in protest.

But Mississippi NOW members didn't stop there. After learning that the American Family Association, which is based in Tupelo, Miss., had donated $500,000 in support of Prop 8, activists wanted to make a statement to their neighbors. They braved the rain and anti-LGBT hate speech to publicly suggest better ways to spend half a million dollars.

Mississippi NOW President Jenni Smith had worried that the January downpour would send activists home, but much to her delight she was met with the chant "We're here, we're queer, we're waterproof!"

Interested in hearing more about issues like this? Come to the 2009 National NOW Conference! This year's conference will feature elections for a team of four national officers, and you can learn more about voting online.

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