March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the month we’ll be profiling D.C. based women you should know. Amy Morse, the founder of Ideas Club, is heading the project. Today she profiles Diana Rhodes. -ed.
In defiance of her short stature, Diana exudes a power of presence – you know that this woman has something to say. If she isn’t speaking with firm conviction about access to reproductive rights, she might be discussing Murakami novels, her experience at a temple in Japan, or designing parties to celebrate diversity in D.C. Diana is a gem in a city whose predominant culture silently urges residents into clearly defined paths.
Diana is an excellent communicator, and uses her voice to both defend and train others to speak for themselves. She is the Director of Public Policy at Advocates for Youth, a national reproductive and sexual health rights organization, where she oversees international, federal and state policy strategy and advocacy efforts on reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice issues that affect young people – especially youth access to comprehensive sex education and sexual health services. Diana works directly with youth activists from across the country, training them to be fierce advocates for the issues that most affect their lives. She works at the grasstops levels (policy makers) and the grassroots (movement-building with young people). Her favorite thing to do is connect the two — bringing youth activists to policy makers and allowing them to share their truth and power.
When she isn’t advocating for reproductive rights, she is organizing and facilitating events and parties throughout the city with the prolific local arts & music collective, Meso Creso. Whether it’s through grassroots activism, policy advocacy, throwing a multi-sensory dance party, or curating a conceptual creative experience, she is passionate and committed to facilitating and creating intentional spaces and dialogues – for not only social justice, but also for creativity and self-expression.
Woman Who Inspires Diana
Emma Goldman was Diana’s first feminist hero. Known as a freethinking “rebel woman” and one of the first anarcha-feminists, she challenged patriarchy as well as state power and class warfare. Goldman was a fearless and frequent orator, editor, and writer, unwavering in her commitment to free speech, free love, worker rights, a strong critic of marriage, and advocate for revolution. Throughout her life she was arrested, imprisoned, raided, deported but never gave up championing the ideas she believed in. Her iconoclastic biography reads like the script for a Hollywood blockbuster – replete with suspense, espionage, betrayal, humor, love, violence, heartbreak, and most of all, her unwavering defense of principles. She was dubbed “the most dangerous woman in America” by her political nemesis (and chief deporter) J. Edgar Hoover. At her request, and after a long life of cross continental pioneering, rabble rousing, loving and fighting, Emma was buried next to the anarchists who were falsely accused and executed after the Haymarket affair.
Diana’s Favorite Emma Quotes
“Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful molder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State- and Church-begotten weed, marriage?”
“If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!”
Teachers can find PBS-recommended resources on how to teach classes about the incredible life of Emma Goldman, as a glimpse into the international/economic/personal and political debates of the turn of the century.
Get Involved and Learn More
Toward an intersectional and justice-based framework
Black Girl Dangerous – BGD is the brainchild of award-winning writer Mia McKenzie. What started out as a scream of anguish has evolved into a multi-faceted forum for expression. BGD seeks to, in as many ways as possible, amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans people of color.
Everyday Feminism – Everyday Feminism seeks to support caring individuals and communities who see every person, including ourselves, as full human beings who deserve to be free to pursue our own happiness and meaning in life.
RH Reality Check – a daily publication providing news, commentary and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues.
Advocates for Youth – partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people’s rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth.