Sally Jane Black: ‘We have to do the work’ to build a united movement

Sally Jane Black (right). SLL photo: Gary Wilson

Talk given by Sally Jane Black of the Louisiana Women’s Action Committee at the Oct. 7 National March to Protect Trans Youth and Speakout for Trans Lives in Orlando, Florida.

I have lived my entire life here in the South, part of the country so many people have abandoned and written off. But I am standing right here in Florida, seeing all of you marching with us, and I am inspired.

I am honored and inspired to be here in solidarity with you. I am honored and inspired to stand with those of you who are right here on the frontlines of the fightback against fascism here in Florida and the Ron DeSantis regime. Y’all are standing up against DeSantis and against the billionaire backers who pull his strings.

Back home in Louisiana, we have our own fascist puppets to worry about. Right now, state Attorney General Jeff Landry — an arch-racist scumbag — is running for governor and leading the far-right agenda there. The same capitalists who are funding DeSantis here are funding his campaign. The same people who fund them, they’re also funding the Democrats across the country. 

The same people are funding the anti-trans laws, the anti-abortion laws, the attacks on our immigrant siblings, and they’re attacking all of our social programs and all workers’ rights which we’ve won over the years. And the same people are responsible for endless war and climate change.

We all have this common enemy: the capitalist class. They’re very organized, and so far they have been successful at keeping us divided. That’s the purpose of these laws and the attacks upon us, to make us hate each other instead of standing united against them.

But there are more of us than there are of them. We outnumber them greatly. Today we’ve shown them: We’re certainly outnumbering the fascists here today.

Today has to be the start of building a movement that remains united. Today has to be the start of all of us coming together.

‘Turn hundreds into millions’

As many of you here saw, our demands go beyond just the attacks on trans people here in Florida. We’re standing here today in solidarity with everyone who is under attack by the fascists and the capitalists who back them, the capitalists who coordinated their campaigns around the country. We have to continue that fight. We have to sustain this. We have to build from this. We have to turn the hundreds who have turned out here today into millions. And we can do it.

In order to do that, in order to build a movement that is united, we’re gonna have to do the work. We’re gonna have to keep showing up. And the unfun part is we’re gonna have to get out there and talk to people who might not yet be on our side, who might not yet know that we are all in the same fight. 

We’re gonna have to be willing to talk to people who don’t yet agree with us. I’m not talking about the fascists or the Klan, but I am talking about people who might not have heard anything about trans rights before today. They might not realize these attacks on trans people are attacks on them as well. We have to be willing to talk to them, and get that message to them.

If they can tell us how to dress and which bathroom to use, they can tell anyone how to dress and which bathroom to use. If they succeed at these attacks on us, they’ll succeed with these attacks on everyone. That’s what they’re doing right now.

I encourage all of you to help us keep building this movement because in the coming year, we’re not just gonna be facing the continued attacks of these fascists and the capitalists. We’re also going to be facing massive campaigns from both Democrats and Republicans to draw everybody into the election next year.

I’m not telling you not to vote. You can vote, that’s fine, but it’s gonna take more than voting. We have to build a movement. We have to grow that movement. We have to bring every progressive group and force out there together so that no matter who is in office, they will answer our demands.

That’s what it’s gonna take to beat back the fascists, to beat back the capitalists, and to win our liberation. We owe it to ourselves to do this.

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