Women’s March Rally planned for Saturday

Staff Writer

Notable women throughout the Starkville area will speak about women’s issues and their experiences in the community during the Women’s March Rally on Saturday.

The rally is scheduled from 10 a.m. until noon on the steps of the Oktibbeha County Courthouse on Main Street. Speakers will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Scheduled speakers include Qiana Cuts, assistant professor of counseling, educational psychology and foundations at Mississippi State University; Rosa Dalomba, owner of The Pop Porium on East Main Street; Sandra Sistruck, Ward 2 alderman; Yulanda Haddix, president of the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP; and Everlyn Johnson, president of the Oktibbeha County Federation of Democratic Women.

Patti Drapala, community activist, is involved in the planning of the rally, which is in conjunction with the two year anniversary of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

“We decided that it would be easier to have a rally rather than going through the process of applying for a permit to have a march,” Drapala said. “It was a spur of the moment idea to have this rally in Starkville.”

Drapala said this is a non-partisan rally organized by various groups in the community, including Indivisible Golden Triangle, Oktibbeha County Democrats, Progressive Starkville Network and the NAACP.

“It’s a rally for women, because we women feel we have various issues in society that still need to be addressed,” Drapala said. “We have lined up some excellent women speakers. This march is about women, although men are more than welcome to come. Supporters of women are always welcome.”

Drapala said issues that women face today include equal pay for equal work, better education for our children and fully funding women’s healthcare.

“In our society, the woman is the nurturer. She has to take care of everybody, whether that’s a good thing or not. But women’s health is important, because we face many responsibilities in society today,” Drapala said.

“These are civil rights issues. These are issues that should matter to everybody. This is why this rally is happening and why marches for women across the United States are happening. Women are speaking up with their voice. We have to fight for ourselves,” Drapala said.

Rosa Dalomba, owner of The Pop Porium in Starkville, said she is excited about speaking at the rally.

“I think we are all defined by our experiences, whether in life or in positions we hold. I think it is important we all use our platform to make a difference,” Dalomba said. “There is beauty in women uplifting one another and being there for one another. Sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone.”

“Older people see a young person like myself in business and it shows them how far women have come in our society. It shows them the fruits of their labor,” Dalomba said. “For young people, it gives them someone to look up to, especially little girls.”

Dalomba said she will speak about her experiences and her hopes for women in the community.

Starkville Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she is pleased to speak at the rally.

“It is good to see people engaged and wanting to make a difference in the community. It not only helps to recharge my batteries, but also helps me in my current position,” Sistrunk said. “Women bring a lot to the table.”

“Inclusivity is just as important as diversity,” Sistrunk said. “Women are underrepresented in political actives in our local area.”

“Not everybody wants to get involved in politics, but there are many other great opportunities in our area, such as The Greater Starkville Development Partnership, charitable organizations, school systems, Volunteer Starkville and the city of Starkville,” Sistrunk said.

“There is something for everyone, ranging from boards to commissions in the city,” she said.

People of all ages and genders throughout the Golden Triangle are encouraged to attend the rally.

“We want everybody to come and have a good time. This is a celebration of women,” Drapala said. “It is an acknowledgment of the work, struggles and efforts that women put in to making life better for us all. It’s a rallying cry to keep on pushing for change in our society.”