Helene Swanson shares her experience walking across the USA for the Equal Rights Amendment

Tag: ERA Action

Next steps… the ERA March and Rally to the US Capitol

Dearest Friends,

Bishop Joe Morris Doss celebrates the Eucharist at the Blessing of the ERA Walkers at St. Stephen and The Incarnation, Washington DC

On Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 2015, Bishop Joe Morris Doss celebrates the Eucharist at the Blessing of the ERA Walkers at St. Stephen and The Incarnation, Washington DC.  Photo Credit: Everett Barnes

I was deeply moved by the commitment of those whom made the August 26, 2015 – Women’s Equality Day – Blessing, March, and Rally a smashing success, for photo’s Click Here. I was touched by all the lovely tokens of affection, gifts, and awards bestowed on me.  I simply did not expect that.  When I heard US Senator Cardin’s and US Representative Speier’s statements I was moved to tears.  It went to the core of why I have walked so many miles.  So my prepared speech went right out the window and the story of my father whom I have rarely spoken of and how he was treated as a coloured man in this country and called a “nigger” a word I own not with pride but with a sad and heavy heart. And what I felt called to speak to is a country so divided by classism, racism, and sexism, a country whose people would so greatly benefit by passage of the Equal Rights Amendment into the US Constitution.

Equal Rights Amendment Rally at the US Capitol

Equal Rights Amendment Rally at the Upper Senate Park Area 2 at the US Capitol. From left to right William Van Horn (Staffer Senator Cardin’s Office) Charles Clymer, Joz Wang, Sarah Kurtz, Taylor Neuville, Helene de Boissiere-Swanson, Dr. E. Faye Williams, Molly Fishmen (Staffer Representative Speier) Ellen Davis, Alli McCracken, and Cathy.

Stories I heard all my life swirling about in my head; instructions to never saying anything about my father being black; how I became my mother’s memory after a red brick fell nine stories landing smack in the center of her head; and then as a child of 12 going out to work selling newspapers door to door in Las Vegas to put food on the table, all those stories and more swelled up from deep within as I listened to one impassioned speaker after another.  And I whom spent a lifetime having been instructed to never cry in public and “keep a stiff upper lip” cried. I cried thinking of Katrina and the trust she put in me, and her stories, stories that she too had kept to herself. And I thought of my beloved husband William too. And I called upon a black woman who served several years in a federal penitentiary to read the Presiding Bishop’s Statement.

Many of you have asked what’s next? First off I will not be taking a break I am only going to come on stronger now.  The pilgrimage is a benchmark in the ministry of Katrina’s Dream to promote th passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  And just like many doubted that I would make it all the way across the US and many have doubted that the Equal Rights Amendment hasn’t a chance in their lifetime – I know just like I knew that I would make it to DC, I know we are not that long off from the ratification of three more states. Ladies and Gents we are going to come on stronger than ever. The Time in NOW!

Swanson heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge them to move it out of committee

Helene Swanson heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirkson Bldg at the US Capitol to urge them to move it out of committee.

So another part of what I have planned next is contacting each and every single US legislator and asking that they co-sponsor S.J. Res. 15 and H.J. Res 51 over the weeks ahead targeting the chair of the Judiciary and several other senators of key importance.  And those that have co-sponsored ask that put on their website  under Women’s Issues  that they have co-sponsored the “ERA Three State Resolution” to demonstrate their support for women’s rights.

This coming September 13th @ 9pm EST Tammy and Cathy are holding their monthly ERA Action National Call and I am hoping that many of you will call in so that we can go over the strategy for the upcoming weekly calls out to our legislators. The call in number is (605) 562-3140 and meeting code number is 787085#

And many of you have asked if I will be writing a book… the answer is yes. The book will be one of my spiritual journey and the difficult decisions I faced in the waked of my late husbands passing and how a simple statements less than two days after my husband’s death at the local church we attended “Don’t worry you find another man, you are young yet”, to surviving a 60 mph sand storm by hiding in a drain ditch brought me closer to the beauty of our earth, and how connecting with a large number of women and human rights activists across the country with each lovingly embracing me in my darkest moments, uplifting me, guiding me, every step of the way.  And praying, indeed praying to God every day to help me walk through aches, pain, and fever; and thirst and hunger when my money ran out months ago, having left with only $200 to my name as I would not – could not – go back to living the life as an oppressed woman in these United States.


Next the herstoric March to the US Capitol has morphed into an annual event. Yes that is correct – the pilgrimage which ended in an amazing march with a dedicated core group of human rights activists and rally to the US Capitol has turned into an annual event to promote the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  So please continue to invite your friends to our Facebook event page…

Finally and most importantly, I want to thank all of you for making this amazing journey with me.  The love and care shown was emboldening and while most would think I might be tired and want a break I am more energized than ever.  So let’s do this… let’s pass the ERA!

Love and Light in Christ,

Helene de Boissiere-Swanson


Hold The Date! Women’s Equality Day – ERA March to the US Capitol – August 26, 2015

July 12, 2015

Dearest Family and Friends,

The last month has been a whirlwind. I am on my second excursion since leaving San Francisco last year on March 8, 2014, on my pilgrimage to promote the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. On this excursion I will have made three stops.

The first leg of this excursion was to attend the 2015 national annual conference for the National Organization for Women in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I met a number of empowered women who are making a difference. I ask that you take a moment to check out the videos of a few of the women that I met. They are truly inspiring!

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and Helene Swanson, Founder of Katrina’s Dream at the 2015 Annual Conference for the National Organization for Women. Photo Credit: Eleanor Smeal

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and Helene Swanson, Founder of Katrina’s Dream at the 2015 Annual Conference for the National Organization for Women. Photo Credit: Eleanor Smeal

Then I headed off to the 79th General Convention where I learnt that many having been following my pilgrimage and the growing ministry of Katrina’s Dream. I had the pleasure of chatting with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the Episcopal Women’s Caucus Breakfast where the article I wrote about my pilgrimage was the centerpiece of their special edition of Rauch for General Convention. I was blessed to be present volunteering as a page when the House of Deputies when Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry was confirmed. Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina is the first African American to be elected Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Then a day later I was again blessed with the opportunity to discuss my pilgrimage with Bishop Curry and ask for his support.

Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church and Helene Swanson, Founder of Katrina’s Dream at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo Credit: Katrina’s Dream supporter.

Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church and Helene Swanson, Founder of Katrina’s Dream at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo Credit: Katrina’s Dream supporter.

I am currently in Phoenix to compete in the Pundit Competition at the Netroots Nation Summit. On that note, everyone please pray for me as I hope to inspire others to join us in getting the word out on the Women’s Equality Day – ERA March to the Capitol event.

Immediately following this conference, I will return to the Carolina to continue walking to the US Capitol to promote the passage of the ERA.

Graphic of Women’s Right Organization’s across the United States who are actively working on the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and support Helene Swanson’s Pilgrimage across the USA for the ERA.

Graphic of Women’s Right Organization’s across the United States who are actively working on the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and support Helene Swanson’s Pilgrimage across the USA for the Equal Rights Amendment.

This ERA March & Rally will culminate my one-year+ pilgrimage covering the 15 states that have yet to ratify the ERA. I left from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on March 8th 2014 – in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of passing the ERA, and to unite many individual factions to make the ERA a reality.   I began my trek in honor of my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Martha Van Alstyne Welles Swanson, an impassioned ERA promoter who was one of the Philadelphia Eleven – the first group of women “irregularly” ordained as Episcopal priests. It was her dream to see women in America receive equal protections under the law, a dream so many Americans of all faiths and backgrounds share.

The Equal Rights Amendment will empower women and provide protection for the LBGTQ community!

The March on August 26, 2015 – Women’s Equality Day will start at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. following a 8 a.m. blessing of the walkers. Many will accompany me for the final four miles of this 7,000-mile spiritual pilgrimage to the U.S. Capitol to promote the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The four-mile route passing the White House and on to the National Mall where top feminists and human rights activists will hold a press conference, and then speakers will rally for the ERA.

Those walking in solidarity represent a number of organizations from across the country including: Equal Rights Alliance, ERA Action, ERA Coalition, ERA Minnesota, Katrina’s Dream, National NOW, Unite Women, We Are Woman US, Women-Matter and many more. They have nourished me as I made my way across the U.S. Along this journey I stopped to meet with dozens of congressional district offices, and leaders from these organizations above joined me via conference call to senators and representatives, asking that they co-sponsor the “The 3-State Strategy” joint resolutions in Congress (SJRes.15/HJRes51)

In addition to the blessing, march, press conference & rally that day, there are several satellite events planned in other locations in the United States and around the world through our new Sisters in Solidarity program.

I ask you to please help to build a national and global presence in support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment by:

  • Joining the Facebook Online Event to demonstrate your support, Inviting your friends, and sharing the event everywhere; and
  • Forwarding this email to all your friends and asking them to join in spirit; and
  • Holding a Sister in Solidarity satellite

Most importantly it is your prayers and support that make possible the ministry of Katrina’s Dream. Thank you so much. Good luck, Good Health, and God Bless Always!

Love and Light in Christ,

Helene de Boissiere-Swanson

Meet Me in St. Louis – A Prayer Vigil & Rally for the Equal Rights Amendment


St Louis Mosiac       Graphic Design by Helene Swanson

As I leave the Kansas City area heading towards Jefferson City and then on to St. Louis, where I will be meeting with Senators Roy Blunt and Clair McCaskill to urge them to co-sponsor S.J. Res. 15,  l give serious consideration to this past week. But before I get ahead of myself I want to make sure that I get the word out that we are holding a Prayer Vigil & Rally at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, MO on November 8, 2014 at noon to 2pm.  The Old Courthouse is where the Dred Scott Decision was issued March 6, 1857.

Please be sure to JOIN, INVITE, SHARE and POST this Facebook Event Page everywhere

After the St. Louis vigil my grassroots organizer Portia and I will head out with a small group of women as we walk into Springfield, the state capitol, to call on the Illinois State Assembly and Governor for Illinois to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Women will walk with me into Springfield, Illinois will demonstrate that like Ghandji this can be accomplished peacefully while chaos surrounds us. Many women will be gathering at the Illinois Prayer Vigil and Rally we will holding in Springfield.  It is important to note that the Illinois State Senate ratified the ERA in about 36 hours from being dropped into the hopper and being voted on the floor. Which is simply amazing!

I am praying to God that all come together and that everyone everywhere helps and co-ordinates with those that have been working so long and hard to move Illinois to be the first state in 21st Century to ratify. I know we can do it! I have faith and I believe, “That if ye have faith of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20


10253989_10203052730701502_2518471768494395982_nGeoff Jolley, Legislative Aid, Marion Dyer, and Helene Swanson met to discuss Congressman Emanuel Cleaver co-sponsoring H.J. Res. 113.  Photo Credit: Holly Long


But back to this past week, it has been one of rest and recuperation and also great excitement. I arrived worn and weary my backpack strap broke in Tulsa, OK and I had been making due but the backpack has caused me great pain in my left arm and shoulder, and the storms that delayed me in Fort Scott lead to my sitting for longer than I should, and my Post Deep Vein Thrombosis Syndrome flared up. So when old family friend Marion Dyer picked me up and took me to her home in Lawrence, KS, I was suffering from exhaustion. I slept the entire three days I was there.  As the saying goes,” No rest for the weary”

Marion and I meet with Geoff Jolley, an aid to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver to ask that he co-sponsor H.J. Res. 113. And Portia made the arrangements for the telephonic conference portion of the meeting. In attendance was Zoe Nicholson, who fasted for 45 days back in 1982 in Illinois; and Sandy Oestreich from Florida of the Equal Rights Alliance, Inc.; and Candy Graham co-founder of Women Matter, and Jencelyn King-Witzel from Illinois from 3WF – Third Wave Feminism; and Cathy Kaelin from Ohio of ERA Action and Progress Democrats of America’s ERA Three State Strategy Issue. The meeting went extremely well and I anticipate that Congressman Cleaver will come on board sometime in November… God Willing.

Now, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get some Republican Groups on board!


10633163_10204766519233256_6972655847713278167_oCarole Plesser and Helene Swanson take a selfie.

The following day I was shuffled over to another dear family friend’s home Carole Plesser who fondly recalled days past when Katrina and George, my husband William and his brother Olof would drop by every Christ Mass Eve to sing Christ Mass Carols. This was especially touching to the Plessers’ who just happen to be Jewish, as it was their wedding anniversary. On Saturday Marion came by and off we went to speak on Sharon Lockhart’s Every Woman radio show. Sharon exemplifies what we at Katrina’s Dream wish to see – more woman be an empowered woman with a voice. We had a great time after the show hanging out with all the folks dropping by for the fundraiser.


10284546_10204747625960936_7994260813246791407_oBeth Pike, Lisa Kim, Marion Dyer, Sharon Lockhart, and Helene Swanson at the KKFI Studios in Kansas City, MO following the broadcast of her show Every Women

Sadly though the lyrics from Meet Me in St. Louis seem all to fitting.

Verse 6

In church sat a man near the door,

asleep, he was starting to snore,

The Minister rose,

and he said, “We will close

singing, Meet on the Beautiful Shore.

The man in the back then awoke,

he caught the last words that he spoke;

He said, “Parson White,

you can meet me alright,

but The Beautiful Shore is a joke.

While I don’t think Heaven is a joke I do find what is happening in Ferguson, MO is despairing. It is not to going to be easy over the days and weeks ahead.  While the terrain was much more demanding on the west coast crossing vast desert regions without water or food the only thing to really fear was poisonous insects and creatures.  In the mid-west where I am now it is racially divided.  There is rioting and the many people are getting killed.

Several weeks ago a young black man, Michael Brown, was shot by a police officer. Please see Police officers shooting black youth is not uncommon in fact it is epidemic. William, my late husband and I were actively involved with the Oscar Grant Committee which formed after a BART officer killed Oscar Grant on New Years Day. Oscar was handcuffed at the time. Fruitvale Station is a movie, which chronicles the killing and I recommend everyone watch it. So I have been following the events in Ferguson, MO closely. When I head into the region known as the Deep South where the custom was to  lynch black people and hang them from trees or worse. I admit I am little concerned.

So, I will need your prayers more than ever for there is not one issue, which is not a woman’s rights issue. We as mothers love our children and seeing them killed is horrific.

Unfortunately, many turn a blind eye to the way women are treated here in the United States. Yes, our standard of living is good here but the way women and children are treated is deplorable.  Be sure to read Women in the US are attacked by the police as well.

However, very few care or dismiss women’s issue stating our needs are not a priority I was recently told that my pilgrimage was bad timing for Missouri and I was being inconsiderate and there was not a enough “bandwidth” that maybe later when things in Ferguson calmed down.  When I became passionate I was verbally attacked and my every word was picked a part.  I wonder how can things calm down in the US when we are divided by our given sex and sexual orientation.

So, America what is it going to take for folks to realize that by empowering women we can change the world. Some joke that if women were in power there would be no war (folks is that really a bad thing), the PBS Series Women War & Peace demonstration just that. I believe that if women were empowered then maybe, just maybe, we just might also stop raping and plundering Mother Earth. Have you ever thought if Earth were called Father Earth instead of Mother Earth would folks be so willing to destroy the planet and the environment?

Lucretia Mott AmendmentLucretia Mott Amendment written by Alice Paul.  Graphic: Helene Swanson

I believe that when the Equal Rights Amendment were passed here in the US that men and women will live longer happier lives as the work load would be evenly distributed, imagine children having quality time with both parents. I have had this dream for a number of years… since my earliest days. So with this I will leave you with a little something from my American Concerto: The Women’s Rights Movement.


American ConcertoHelene Swanson playing the American Concerto: The Women Rights Movement at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Kansas City, MO