It was a fortuitous event that the day before Women’s March Action opened its Boyle Heights hub this summer, the Supreme Court handed down its decision to overturn Roe V. Wade – the 1973 decision that protected the right to an abortion in the United States. Media that covered the hub’s opening on June 25 noted the coincidence, and days later members of the organization participated in a local protest against the ruling, along with Boyle Heights’ Centro CSO.
But Women’s March Action executive director Emiliana Guereca wants people to know that the “feminist political hub” does more than just defend reproductive rights.
“An abuelita walked in to the center just this week to say she heard about the center and wanted to let us know that she was happy to see that we were here,” Guereca said recently. “She told me that she just became a citizen and that even though we might not agree on all issues, she came to register to vote with us because she believes in equal rights for women.”
Women’s March Action is the political arm of the non profit Women’s March Foundation, and its mission is to elect pro-choice, pro-woman candidates to every level of public office. The Boyle Heights hub, a block away from Mariachi Plaza at 1851 East 1st Street, is intended for local residents to get involved in feminist politics through community work, workshops and campaign efforts to advance and push for pro-woman politicians across the country.
“Historically when democracy fails, it fails women of color the most,” said Guereca. “We’re here to serve as a political hub. We are fighting to get more people registered to vote so that we get candidates who support women into office, so we’re never in this kind of a position again where the rights of the most vulnerable keep getting stripped away.”
According to Guereca, the decision to open in Boyle Heights was very intentional.
“Boyle Heights has always been a center for change in Los Angeles, especially those who are and have been historically marginalized,” she said. “As a first generation Mexican-American and a feminist myself, I can feel that the heart of Los Angeles runs through Boyle Heights, so it was an easy choice to settle our roots here.”
Since its opening, the center has been busy at work making its presence known and encouraging local residents to come through its doors and get involved. The center hosts multiple phone and text banking gatherings to encourage voter registration and inform about the most pressing issues facing communities around the country.
The Hub also serves as a safe and welcoming meeting space for women, community members and organizers, and Women’s March Action offers the hub twice a week to other groups that align with its feminist agenda.
“We have felt very welcomed, appreciated and supported by the local community ever since we opened, from having folks bringing food and flowers to our grand opening to having people walking by coming in to share very kind words and looking for ways to get involved,” said Dr. Leda Ramos, a professor at CSU Los Angeles and advocate for the center. “We want folks to know that our doors are always open.”
Throughout the coming months, the center will host multiple café conversations with politicians including an upcoming chat with U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez that will be open for all local residents.
“It really gives me hope seeing that people in Boyle Heights are really excited to get involved,” said Guereca. “People need to know everybody has a voice, no matter what political party they are or what ideals and identity they hold. That’s why we’re here.”