Many of us can remember the feelings we had on the morning after the November 2016 election. Disbelief. Shock. Anger. Sadness. While the feelings transcend generations, genders, and religious beliefs – the division created by a contentious election season is hard to bounce back from.
But one group of North Carolina women chose to bounce up and out of the “election hangover” with a passionate pursuit. Onward! was created by North Carolinians inspired to fight injustice.
Ashton Wheeler Clemmons is one of the co-founders of Onward!.
“The 2016 election and subsequent anti-woman rhetoric and onslaught of legislation are sharp wake-up calls that we as women – whatever our role – have many miles to go in our fight for justice,” said Clemmons.
So how does Onward! fight for justice? They do so through four areas.
1) Advocate at the local, state and national levels.
2) Engage the next generation to lead the work.
3) Show intentional acts of kindness
4) Educate Ourselves in Partnership with our community.
In a little over six months, they’ve grown to more than 500 representatives from across the state, with the majority concentrated in the Greensboro area. Onward! hosts documentary screenings, educational panels, volunteer opportunities, and workshops. Big events are being planned for the fall, including educational opportunities and a Greensboro City Council Candidates Forum.
Mindy Oakley is the organization’s co-founder.
“Onward! started from a very raw feeling that we as women could do something meaningful and significant to engage our community in promoting the important values of love, compassion, inclusion and equity. We didn’t want to accept a new normal created during and after the election that minimized the importance of these values and instead normalized negativity, hatred, exclusion, racism and sexism,” she shared with me.
In addition to their intentional efforts to keep on a positive trajectory, Onward! also looks to utilize the skillsets available to the organization from its members.
“As women we fill many roles in our communities – wives, mothers, daughters, teachers, lawyers, doctors, elected leaders and more. Before the election, I used my professional role to create a more just educational environment in the schools I led; after I realized that using that one role is not enough,” said Clemmons.
There are lots of ways to get involved, from attending an event to participating in the “guide teams” leading the activities in each focus area. All women are welcome and encouraged to join Onward! in its mission of fighting for justice.
“Through Onward! we have each found our voice. We have felt emboldened to speak up, step out of our comfort zones, and take the risks we know in our hearts we should take. I take the energy I gain from Onward! with me everywhere I go, and into every interaction whether it be professional or personal. I have a new voice – and a new clarity of purpose. This community of women has each other’s’ backs – and together we are widening the circle, day by day, of women who stand up for the values that are important to us,” shared Oakley.
Want to be added to the Onward! mailing list and get involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.