GRANGEVILLE – “Idaho’s too great to hate” and “build a bridge, not a wall!” could be heard Saturday, Jan. 19, as more than 50 people braved rain and cold to march from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, downtown Grangeville and back.
The People’s March date was chosen to coincide with both the national women’s march and Martin Luther King Jr., Day weekend and was organized by locals Norma Staaf, Larry Nims, Michelle Perdue and Carla Wilkins. The march was to support equality, inclusion, social justice and understanding.
Following the march, participants met back at the church to listen to speakers.
Staaf said she became interested in organizing a local event when she attended a workshop on ethics last year.
“Where better than in our own community?” she said, adding she heard a speaker say something that made her think: “It’s not just what you’re willing to stand for, but what you’re willing to stand up for.”
Lucinda George Simpson, a descendent of the Chief Wallowa band of the Nez Perce, spoke briefly about her ancestry, life and time as a law enforcement officer.
“At one time, the Nez Perce numbered 10,000; now, that’s down to about 3,500 and dwindling,” she said.
She said even though American Indians were not considered U.S. citizens, her grandfather served in the United States military in World War I.
“He fought for this land he was not even deemed a citizen of,” she said. Her father later served in World War II and other relatives served in Vietnam.
Voting, she said, was not a right for some American Indians until 1957 and not for all until the early ’60s.
Simpson authored an article in August 2018 entitled “The orca mother mourns, and we mourn with her,” that ran in the Seattle Times.
She said her goal is to continue to make her community stronger. She lives in Lapwai on the Nez Perce Reservation.
Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth, Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, spoke about economic inequality, which affects all other aspects of life.
“If we believe in basic human rights, then we should believe in some way that incomes should be leveled out,” she said. “Why? Because many of the reasons why people are in poverty are due to circumstances beyond their control.”
Wassmuth asked participants to look down at their feet and think about one foot being service (charity, giving, helping in a physical way) and the other being advocacy (stepping out and helping to make social changes).
“My advice is to find what you are passionate about and join a group or organization that is making positive changes,” she said.
She ended with a story from an interfaith anti-hunger coalition event she was a part of where Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and Protestantism were each represented. As often does, she said, the idea of, “but what do we do to prevent people from taking advantage of the system?” came up.
In the end, the Muslim man said, “When we are each judged one day, we will not be asked, ‘Did you prevent fraud?’ We will be asked, ‘Did you feed the hungry?’”
Lewis-Clark State College Grangeville Outreach Coordinator Carla Wilkins spoke about inclusion in the work place.
“I have a 31-year-old daughter with visible disabilities [due to a brain injury],” Wilkins said. She explained how her daughter was employed for five years at Advanced Welding and for the past two years at LCSC, where she obtained an associate’s degree.
Wilkins said those businesses chose to “look beyond her obvious disabilities and see her skills.”
She said employees and co-workers have mentored and helped, and she urged other businesses to do the same.
“Can you be more patient the next time you’re being served somewhere? Can you be more understanding?” she asked. “I believe there is a place for everyone in this world.”