CLPP Students & Alums at the United State of Women

At 6:30am, the line of attendees curved all the way down the city block. More than 5,000 people from all over the country were waiting to get through security for the first-ever White House Summit on the United State of Women.

Once inside, attendees were dancing to the music of Beyoncé: "I'm reppin' for the girls who taking over the world."

The fourteen-hour Summit was a mix of plenary talks on the main stage and breakout sessions focusing on solutions to specific issues women face. Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) students and alums were among the many notable speakers at the event, along with President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Oprah Winfrey, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and other notable social justice activists.

In between plenary talks were "solution seminars" focused on the summit's six pillars: violence against women, health, economic opportunity, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and leadership and education.

Johanna Fernández, Assistant Director of National Leadership Projects at CLPP, reflected on the organization's large presence at the summit.

"It's amazing to see CLPP's impact! So many of the folks there were CLPP alums who are now leading organizations across the reproductive justice movement. It's a sign of the caliber of CLPP alums and the experience they are gaining in our programs."

Fernández added, "We know the power young people have to create and lead inclusive movements. At a time when abortion access is center stage, it is important for activists from all walks of life to meet with policy makers and help shape the conversation."

"Going to a summit like this where notable people were attending, and even speaking, was something I never thought I would be able to attend in a million years," said Stephanie Mascorro, one of the many CLPP students in attendance.

This summer, Mascorro moved from their hometown of McKinney, TX for a CLPP-funded internship at the National Network of Abortion Funds, whose founding director was CLPP Faculty Director Marlene Gerber Fried.

"While there, I felt like I was representing all the Latinx women that deserved to go to this event but would never be able to, my family who encouraged me to take advantage of everything offered to me although they would never experience those things, and my younger self who has fought their entire life to be where they are now."

In the morning plenary, Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, spoke about the needs of trans women. With the tragedy of the Orlando shooting heavy on many minds, Salcedo began her talk with a "moment of power" for Orlando.

A CLPP alum and speaker at the CLPP conference, Salcedo urged the audience to not be deceived by the increased visibility of trans women as a marker of true change.

"We as trans people are living our lives authentically and because we live our lives authentically we are hated upon and we get killed . . . We need to intentionally invest in the leadership of trans people, particularly trans women of color."

Shortly after Salcedo, Grecia Magdaleno—a current CLPP student—joined Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, on stage to discuss the importance of reproductive justice in her community.

"My mother is a beautiful, Mexican, working-class, undocumented immigrant who instilled this radical idea into me about bodily autonomy being essential in order to live your best life. We need to rewrite narratives of shame into ones of power."

Magdaleno is a student at Arizona State University and a 2016 CLPP intern at the Trans Buddy Program for LGBTI Health, which was co-founded by CLPP alum Kale Edmiston and is led by CLPP alum Lauren Mitchell.

Magdaleno said speaking at the Summit was "a life-changing experience. I felt it was absolutely necessary to use my voice to talk about intersectionality in the reproductive rights movement. Reproductive justice is about compassion, it's about basic human rights, it's about justice and liberation. It's time we start demanding what we deserve."

CIVIL LIBERTIES AND PUBLIC POLICY (CLPP) is a national program based at Hampshire College. Combining activism, organizing, leadership training, and reproductive justice movement building, CLPP is dedicated to educating, mentoring and inspiring new generations for the reproductive justice movement. Based at Hampshire College, CLPP bridges the worlds of activism and academia to transform the way individuals and organizations think about and act on reproductive justice.During its 35-year history, CLPP has trained more than 15,000 young activists. Seventy-four percent of CLPP participants remain lifelong advocates in reproductive justice and allied social justice movements, often at the state, national, and international levels.