Professor Beverly Speak, a lecturer in the Masters of Public Administration program in the Department of Political Science, was a speaker at the Claremont Women’s March, alongside elected representatives and local activists.
An estimated 120,000 participated in marches across the country on Oct. 2 in response to the recent laws restricting abortion in Texas and to champion for women’s rights. Speak, a long-time Girl Scout volunteer, was invited to talk at the event.
“I was selected because of my work with girls and young women … [and] actively focused on seeking input from them about what they felt was important for me to convey on their behalf to the audience at the rally,” said Speak.
In her speech, Speak pointed out themes from the girls and young women she spoke with — education, voting, economics, family roles, and health.
“Our girls need to know that they can make informed choices, based on a solid and unbiased education that teaches them not just scientific facts, but critical thinking skills – not just what to know but how to use that knowledge,” she told the crowd.
Advocating for women’s rights is something Speak has been working on throughout most of her professional career.
“I have personally seen the disparities and challenges facing women attempting to survive and thrive in a culture where their healthcare, education, and economic choices are limited,” she said.
Speak is hopeful that working on the issues at hand will ultimately lead to a better future and takes these moments, big or small, as progress.
“Our little community Women’s March was one of the hundreds that have taken place over the past decades. Those may seem like small potatoes or old news, and many question their effectiveness as a tool for social change, she said. “However, when you are there on the ground, walking in your own community with other local folks, feeling the anger at injustice, and the support and the passion of those who share your commitment to positive change, you can be energized to continue the work in whatever capacity you can.”
Speak mentioned in her speech that while progress has been made, and though we as a society still have changes to make, it’s critical to continue working toward improvements and advocating for those whose rights are in jeopardy.
“We can – and for these girls and all girls, we must – keep moving forward,” she said.
Speak encourages students to engage in civic participation and says that she is delighted for the future when she sees the devotion in her master’s students.
“These students are already committed to working on behalf of the larger society to bring about positive change through ethical and informed civic leadership,” she said. “I encourage them to continue to learn all they can learn about the political process, to seek out and listen to all sides of complex issues, and to act responsibly to help bring about true social, economic, and health care justice,” said Speak.
And that goes for her as well.
“I plan to continue with my own efforts to educate myself and others, to communicate with our elected officials, and to pass along my values to the next generation,” she said.