@donnahylton who I featured last year for the Women's March on Washington, was invited to attend the White House prison reform forum but then she was denied entrance at the door. Hylton, who lives in Brooklyn, was one of the speakers the D.C rally. "Once , I wasn't able to speak up for myself but now I can. I am the voice for all women who don't have a voice or are not allowed a voice. Next week it will be 5 years since I was released from prison. And I am going to Washington to remind people that the women in prison are just every other woman, mother, daughter, sister. But over 90% of women who are incarcerated are also victims of sexual violence. We have to talk about women and violence. Our very humanity is on the line."
"The power of grace, women, we just have it. This grace, it's a gift. I love being a woman and I would never choose otherwise. To me, grace means being educated, fancy, sexy and terrific inside and out. And having a loving and inviting spirit inside and out." - Shawn-Michelle Rudism is the owner of the vintage clothing shop, Fraulein's World in New Orleans.
"I told myself if I didn't have a baby by the time I was 25, I wasn't gonna have one. I wanted to have a baby, raise her and still be able to be young and live my life. I raised my baby. I'm still young, I move around and I enjoy life." - Dianthe Johnson works in the construction field and is also a Lyft driver in New Orleans.
Donna Hylton lives in Brooklyn; she was one of the speakers at the D.C. march rally. “Once, I wasn’t able to speak up for myself but now I can. I am the voice for all women who don’t have a voice or are not allowed a voice. Next week it will be 5 years since I was released from prison. And I am going to Washington to remind people that the women in prison are just like every other woman, mother, daughter, sister. But over 90% of women who are incarcerated are also victims of sexual violence. We have to talk about women and violence. Our very humanity is on the line.”
"I just got married last year. It's a gay marriage. I was at an event last night at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Edie Windsor was there. (United States v. Winsor) She really made it happen here. Things have changed so much about being openly gay." - Sally Kopstein
"I am fortunate that I am able to follow in my father's footsteps and actively participate in political events." - Aruna Hollingshead, who was born in SriLanka, is retired Canadian who took the train to NYC to volunteer for Hillary Clinton's Campaign.
"There's a consciousness about this election that is driving me and awakening parts of me I didn't even realize needed awakening. I have always been aware of feminist issues and was instrumental in launching the current burlesque movement. The sexiness about performance is also about women's power, beauty and artistry. There is a strength about women's sexuality, and burlesque is about artistic heroism." - Billie Madley is an actor, burlesque instructor and activist who pledged to wear her "Voting" clothing everyday from September - Nov 8th.
"People don't see prison as a woman's issue. They also don't see the oppression that women experience in prison and that women experience as leaders of criminal justice reform. I was in prison from 18-23 years of age. If I hadn't had this experience I may not have found my strength. I don't regret going to prison, because of prison I am going to change the world." - Kayla Gerdes is an advocate with LifetoLife LLC and a council member of the National Council For Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. Kayla is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
"Nobody ever asked me if this is what I wanted to be. Being a woman is just my reality. But I have been ignored, maligned, and abused because I was a girl and now a woman and that has made me so aware and sensitive of oppressed people everywhere." Takiyah Nur Amin, Ph.D is an assistant professor of Dance studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
"I didn't end up having a baby or adopting a child. Knowing this campaign was so important - being a woman has brought me into this activism. I'm doing this for future generations and I don't even have kids. I think, "How dare some people sit on the sidelines. I am doing this for your kids. I don't even have kids. I'm just really emotional, we all thought, I thought, Bernie was going to take this all the way."- Julie Tyler is the founder of Golden Goose Films.
"In 1991 I was still living in Venezuela and was given the assignment to design the 1992 Ford Motorcraft Calendar that generally hangs in automotive shops. Historically the Ford calendar featured women in bikinis, but I told my supervisor that I was uncomfortable making a calendar about car parts that featured women in bikinis. Instead, I provided my layouts that featured the product, rather than women's bodies. I was only 21 - but I had so much resolve about the issue that my supervisor and the art director accepted my alternative layouts without women in bikinis. Ford had orders for 23,000 calendars and given the population of Venezuela that is a lot of calendars. " Mercedes Gil Harris is an independent graphic designer. Visit her her shop on Etsy.