From the time I was small, I’ve always loved Pioneer Day. I am a descendant of pioneers, and loved to hear the stories of ancestors who risked everything, even their lives, for what they believed in. I would often think about whether I could be brave enough and strong enough to do what they did. This Pioneer Day, though, I want to move away from the handcarts and the flowered bonnets and honor a different type of pioneer.
I want to honor the suffragettes. From our own Mormon foremothers to Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party, these women with their iron resolve and relentless persistence fought for the right to vote.
I want to honor the civil rights activists. From Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King Jr. to the anonymous masses who risked their freedom and their well-being by sitting at lunch counters and in the fronts of buses, who staged sit-ins and marches and boycotts in the name of equality.
I want to honor the second-wave feminists. From Betty Friedan to Gloria Steinem, these women entered the workforce, fighting for jobs that had previously been limited to men, and making it possible for little girls like me to be told they can do anything that a man can do.
I want to honor those in the LGBTQIA community who from Stonewall on have fought from their rights. From Harvey Milk to Laverne Cox, these brave individuals have chosen to live an authentic life, to stop hiding and come out in a world where being different could (and often does) cost them their jobs, their housing, even their lives.
So many others deserve to be honored. Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Alice Walker, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, the Nigerian schoolgirls, the Idle No More movement, Malala Yousafzai, and many, many, many more.
Finally, I wish to honor those pioneers within the LDS church. Those such as Darius Gray for his work on race, and Carol Lynn Pearson who works to make the church a more inclusive place for LGBTQIA individuals. And people like Kate Kelly and the rest of the Ordain Women movement, people who are not afraid to ask questions even when those questions are unpopular.
Today as I celebrate Pioneer Day, I will still remember the sacrifices of my brave ancestors. But I will also remember the sacrifices, past and present, of these other pioneers.
6 Responses to “pioneers”
[…] From the time I was small, I’ve always loved Pioneer Day. I am a descendant of pioneers, and loved to hear the stories of ancestors who… …read more […]
Your post reminded me of Carol-lynn Pearson’s poem.
My people were Mormon pioneers.
Is the blood still good?
They stood in awe as truth
Flew by like a dove
And dropped a feather in the West.
Where truth flies you follow
If you are a pioneer.
I have searched the skies
And now and then
Another feather has fallen.
I have packed the handcart again
Packed it with the precious things
And thrown away the rest.
I will sing by the fires at night
Out there on uncharted ground
Where I am my own captain of tens
Where I blow the bugle
Bring myself to morning prayer
Map out the miles
And never know when or where
Or if at all I will finally say,
“This is the place,”
I face the plains
On a good day for walking.
The sun rises
And the mist clears.
I will be all right:
My people were Mormon Pioneers.
––Carol Lynn Pearson
You included Kate Kelly in the paragraph that said, “those within the church”.
Kate Kelly is still a part of the Mormon Church. She’s still part of that body of Christ.
Doesn’t matter what some men decided in a private meeting with no women present. They can’t decide whether she’s still Mormon or not.
LGBTQIA? You keep adding letters to your acceptance of practicing the acts of sin. I can’t even keep up! Kate Kelly, the apostate, is a pioneer? In that case, you missed Joseph Smith III and the many others after him including Lorin Woolley and Steve Benson that also strove to lead believing members astray.
There is no sin in loving those who belong to the LGBTQIA community.