Let us know if you're interested in organizing a Caravan stop in your community.

Finding Strength in Times of Adversity

Wilhelmina Banks turns the house of her great-grandmother, a freed slave who settled in southwestern Virginia, into an African culture museum. Five feminist artists create a project to honor and protect Kentucky's endangered watersheds.

Single mothers receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) in Cincinnati's Appalachian neighborhoods earn their high school graduate equivalency diplomas, despite the federal government's determination to make going to school more difficult for them.

A circle of West Virginia women come together to address issues of homophobic violence in Charleston. Two more Charleston women organize to ensure that TANF recipients have a voice in the welfare reform debate.

A group of young women spend the summer researching problems in their rural community and then come up with some answers. Another teen group, this one African American, sponsors a dismantling racism workshop in their 99.5% white Virginia county.

A group of Cherokee leaders develop a process for overcoming trauma, personal and cultural, and reconnecting with the spiritual.

What do all of these Alliance women have in common? What's the thread that binds each to one another? Persistence, tenacity, and resolve. Intelligence, passion, and optimism.

A determination to make things better for women, families, and communities. A strength of spirit greater than all the adversity that life can deal.

P.O. BOX 688 FLOYD, VIRGINIA 24091 * AWA@swva.net

 

The last WOMEN'S CARAVAN culminated with the Alliance's participation in the US Social Forum. There, we presented a segment of Mountain Women Rising as part of the Opening Plenary session and a workshop on Cultural Organizing in Appalachian communities.

During the Caravan we visited communities in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. A typical stop included a workshop on 1) Violence Against Women, 2) Poverty & Power, 3) Gender Issues, or 4) Understanding Culture, Race and Class in Appalachia, followed by a community potluck, ending with a performance of Mountain Women Rising based on stories shared throughout the visit.

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The first Appalachian Women's Caravan wound its way through the mountains during the summer of 1994, carrying our message to end violence against women in all its many forms - cultural, spiritual, economic and physical.

In one community we had to lock the doors and put tarpaper on the windows when women made t-shirts depicting experiences of violence in their lives, for fear their husbands would find out.

When women held Caravan events in their communities, they came together in a way they had never done before. They started talking about what was happening in their homes, things they'd been ashamed to share. Women stopped asking their husbands for permission to go to meetings, and started talking to other women. Some women ultimately left abusive and controlling relationships. We called that "directly confronting power." We called it organizing.

For the next Caravan we chose the theme "Women Rising Up," as in bread rising, or revolution, depending upon one's frame of reference. And this time what we found was that women were, indeed, on the rise. Those who had been uncertain about even attending events in 1994 were the ones organizing them the second time around. Women had moved from barely speaking up, to speaking out, to organizing others to speak. And Alliance members were now speaking about racism and homophobia, along with other forms of violence against women . . . Excerpt from RESIST, May 2001

 

If you'd like to organize a Caravan event in your community, please contact us at AWA@swva.net.

 

copyright Appalachian Women's Alliance 2007
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