‘Sisters in solidarity’ event set for Saturday

mary peace head and mayor gayle mclaughlin dancing

Local icon Mary "Peace" Head, left, and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin dancing at last year's women's day event. (photo by Robert Rogers)

Last year, the city’s fledgling annual celebration of local women’s culture drew a big crowd and an array of diverse performances.

This year, city leaders expect the same.

“The numbers increase each year,” said City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckels, “because the word gets out that there is a powerful sense of community, a beautiful diverse group of women meeting for the sake of sisterhood.”

More than 30 local organizations and hundreds of residents and city leaders will gather in Lovonya DeJean Middle School’s multipurpose room Saturday for the event, titled “Sisters in Solidarity: Richmond the Beloved Community.”

This will be the 4th annual event in Richmond, which was launched by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in 2008. It is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The gathering celebrates International Women’s Day, a holiday commemorating March 8, 1908, when women workers marched in New York City’s Lower East Side demanding shorter hours, fair pay and suffrage.

This year’s installment will feature keynote speaker Linda Salinas, a community organizer and activist for youth empowerment and immigrant and LGBTQ communities.

There will also be performances by ballet dancers from the East Bay Center for Performing Arts and a Polynesian dance troupe from Kennedy High School. Local poet Jackie Thompson and RYSE Center youths are also scheduled to perform.

Last year’s gathering drew more than 200 people.

Richmond has a rich history of women’s organizations, dating at least to World War II. Women played a major role during that formative period, as thousands staffed the factories to stem the labor shortage caused by men being deployed overseas.

“Women have always been the backbone of every community.” Beckels said. “We are the healers and nurturers, the financial managers who stretch dollars to meet our budgetary needs.”

The event is free and open to the public.

McLaughlin said the event is a special opportunity for local women to gather and celebrate.

“This event is an opportunity to network, share and celebrate the accomplishments of women in our day-to-day lives and in moving us towards a more just and equitable society,” McLaughlin said.

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