A coffee mug with the suffragette slogan “Votes for Women” stands front and center of Dr. Kelly Bushnell’s office desk just as feminism stands at the center of her life.
Bushnell is a Californian and says she’s always been a feminist. She earned a Master’s degree from Mills College, and it was there that she learned to take her feminism one step forward to activism. She later went on to get her PhD in London.
Today, Bushnell teaches in the UWF English department specializing in Victorian literature. Thematic elements that she studies and teaches feature gender and feminism.
Bushnell feels a sense of duty to her students to empower them and contributes to their success by serving on the faculty advisory board for the women gender and sexual studies major and also helps host a feminist theory reading group.
This Saturday, Dr. Bushnell will be spending her morning marching with hundreds of thousands of women worldwide in the Women’s March on Washington in Pensacola down Palafox Street.
Women’s March D.C. will be Saturday morning not only across the United States but around the world all rallying to stand in solidarity for marginalized women. Bushnell noted countries in Africa and Europe will have citizens participating in this global moment. These smaller gatherings are called sister marches and are for those who want to attend the D.C. march but can’t for whatever reason.
Bushnell was one of the organizers for the Pensacola sister march but gives the founding credits to UWF student Janet Sallis who decided to register Pensacola as a local march. Sallis initially invited a few friends and family members, but the March event on Facebook now has over 800 RSVP’s.
“I started the March because I remembered the quote that says “I used to think ‘Somebody ought to do something about that.’ Then, I realized I am somebody,” Sallis said. “I don’t want to leave a mark on this world; I want to leave a crater.”
Bushnell wanted to clear the myth that the March is just an anti-Trump protest. Rather than being against a person or administration, the march is a positive and peaceful stand of solidarity where women will stand shoulder to shoulder to support marginalized women in communities everywhere.
“… I don’t think anyone there will be a huge fan of his but [Trump is] not the reason we’re coming together, we are coming together this time because we see a fight ahead for our healthcare and our safety, and that’s not just about one man.”
Even though Pensacola and the Florida panhandle is a very conservative area, Bushnell says she expects to see women from all backgrounds participating in the march, even those who typically vote republican.
She also notes that the Pensacola community has been incredibly supportive and the Pensacola March organizers have yet to receive any hate messages even on their online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Saturday morning at 9 a.m. marchers will gather at the Plaza de Luna and Bushnell will give an empowering speech to begin the rally. Marchers will take off North on Palafox. Participants are encouraged to bring signs, and engage in positive chants.
Bushnell says participating in the March shows that you are, “a woman who supports other women who cares enough about her community and the marginalized people in her community to want to make her voice heard.”
Slate recently released an article calling the march’s platform “unapologetically progressive.” Bushnell had some thoughts on why that’s actually so disappointing to her.
“It’s frustrating that demanding equality is still considered progressive in 2017.”
To women who don’t support feminism Bushnell says, “Even if you don’t support feminism, feminism still supports you… we want women not to be afraid of that term. [Feminism] means gender equality, it means standing up for marginalized communities not just women”