IW Inspiring Women Sharon Ellison
Note: This IW winter series features inspiring women from all walks of life who strive to make a difference in other people’s lives.
The difference in the society these women make is not measured by money or accolades they receive. It is measured by the progress in the society, because we as a nation cannot go backwards.
The IW series which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8th was also inspired by a dedication note on “365 ways to Relax mind, body & soul” from my son Jake:
“I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” -Kuba
Nominate a woman who has made a difference in your life for this series.
Lowell woman shows passion for human rights, marches in Washington
Name: Sharon Ellison
Residence: Lowell, MI
Occupation: retired from Lowell Area Schools
Family: husband Tony, sons Steve and Tony
Interests: travelling, art
Education: bachelor’s from Central Michigan University
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – It was a solid wall to wall crowd between the main route on Independence Avenue and 14th Street, where Lowell resident Sharon Ellison and team ended up last Saturday during the Women’s March in Washington D.C.
“We could not reach the main parade on Independence and Third Street, because it was a solid wall of people,” Ellison said. “There was no break in the crowd.”
So, instead the team made their way to 14th Street were the parade was headed.
“I felt fenced in,” she said. “There were solid walls of people all around us.”
However, in spite of the crowds, the march was peaceful, according to Ellison.
“Everyone was respectful and polite,” she said. “There were only three police cars. We were looking out for each other. I did not feel vulnerable.”
There was a woman who went into labor and an ambulance had to make its way through the crowds.
But there were also some embarrassing moments like when someone questioned why women from Michigan were at the march.
“I felt sad for Michigan, whose electoral votes were for Trump,” Ellison said.
The crowds in Washington D.C. were estimated at 250,000, while worldwide around three million protestors gathered in major cities.
Ellison and other women carried signs bearing the name of those who couldn’t come: whether live or in memory of. Ellison gathered 74 signatures including memorial signatures of late family members.
“I felt those women were with me that day,” she said. “The atmosphere was peaceful, everyone wanted to be present.”
Ellison is no stranger to the Lowell community located at the confluence of Flat and Grand Rivers in northeast Kent County known as “The next place to be.”
Ellison, who is now retired, worked for the Lowell Middle School for 16 years, and she served on the Lowell City Council for eight years.
In the 1990s, Ellison with husband Tony had a video store in different locations around town.
Ellison enjoys travelling around the world and getting to know other cultures.
However, due to the events of the previous 19 months of the presidential campaign, Ellison felt she needed to do more than just complain.
“I went to D.C. for the Women’s March out of fear of what might happen,” she said.
Fountain Street Church of Grand Rapids organized last Saturday’s trip to Washington D.C. However, the charter buses were sold out early on, so the church also organized a local Women’s March in Grand Rapids.
“By sharing our experiences, writing to our representatives and making phone calls, we’re going to keep the movement going,” said Ellison on the future of the movement.
Ellison said there is no way of going back in protecting human rights.
“If any group is marginalized, we all lose,” she said. “We can’t go back.”
Unlike at the inauguration on Jan. 20, the metro trains were packed, according to Ellison.
“We rode the metro, but we had trouble getting in,” she said. “We were met by walls of people. The best we could do was to march on 14th Street to Constitution Avenue. It was amazing, you could hear the wave of people moving.”
Ellison said she went to the Women’s March in Washington for the same reason, she ran for a seat on the Lowell city council in 2015.
“I did stand up to make a difference,” she said. “I don’t want to be just politically correct. You get tired of banging your head against the wall.”
Ellison’s biggest pet peeve are bullies in any environment.
“I couldn’t tolerate it at work, as a child, or as a politician,” she said. “We wanted to send a definite message that this is not okay.”
And it’s time for action.
“We’ve gone past words,” she said. “We have to do something. This is the upside of the downside.”
Other women present in D.C. from the Grand Rapids area along with Ellison were: Nancy Misner, Alice Harwood, Kathy Sainz, Maria Lara, Nancy Misner, Shelli Otten.
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For more info go to http://www.womensmarch.com
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