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Mars needs Women! (New Bedford, too.)

Alabama’s Perman Hardy at the New Bedford Women’s March, Sat. Jan. 20, 2018

Okay – the headline is clickbait. It’s the title of a schlocky ‘60s era sci-fi flick that somehow got stuck in my mind. But, as frequently is the case, there’s truth to be found behind the pop hokum.

Mars and New Bedford, too do indeed need women. In the flick, Mars needs women because a genetic defect only allows Martian women to have male children – not an encouraging trend if you’re looking to ensure the survival of the species. So, off to Earth the Martians rocket off in search of women to do nothing less than guarantee their survival.

We can only hope that when they get here, they land in New Bedford. Especially on a day like this past Saturday, January 20, when the full power and imagination of femininity could be found downtown during a conference and march held on the anniversary of last year’s national Women’s March.

On Saturday, the brilliance of the organizers combined with Lucem Diffundo on this great day and this special moment in the city. This is a city whose motto – Lucem Diffundo literally translates into “I diffuse Light” – means something once again.

That’s due to the tireless efforts of its citizens practicing some creative thinking. That’s why New Bedford’s Women’s March this year boasted something no other in the nation could – a genuine first.

Organizers of the Women’s March – Dana Rebeiro, Ruth Chicca and Bethany Fauteux – scored a coup when they arranged for Perman Hardy to attend the march and address the crowd gathered in front of the New Bedford Free Public Library for the march rally on Saturday afternoon.

Perman Hardy is a rising star on the national scene. She’s the woman who’s received much of the credit for organizing the “get out the vote” campaign on behalf of Alabama’s now Senator Doug Jones late last year in a hotly contested -and controversial – special election.

Polls show that black women voters gave Jones a crucial edge in the election – and Perman Hardy was the force behind mobilizing many of those voters.

Now, she’s embarking on a national tour to help motivate voters everywhere – and New Bedford, Massachusetts was her very first stop, thanks to Rebeiro, Chicca and Fauteux.

On Saturday, Hardy electrified the crowd. She’s a natural and gifted speaker – and nestled up atop the library steps alongside our own gifted women, also including city Poet Laureate, Patricia Gomes and Ann Partridge, the wife of Mayor Jon Mitchell, you couldn’t help but think you were witnessing something special in New Bedford.

Political activism practiced with force, sincerity and kindness toward all – for all.

All political movements – and/or revolutions – have to begin somewhere. New Bedford’s women – and persons of all genders who join them in the fight for fairness and equality – are off to a good start by emphasizing that this city -and everyone in it – matters. And they deserve to dance in the light.

Steven Froias