Fashion designer and Women's March Youth Initiative Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs began her speech to a standing-room audience at Gettysburg College in an unlikely way. She described herself as once being a "little girl from Trinidad who couldn't say her name properly" because of a speech impediment. But she continued that "being teased only made me stronger."
Her resilience led to a new life in the states at 19, where she pursued fashion design. St. Bernard-Jacobs founded a zero-waste clothing company called Tabii Just that uses surplus fabric from New York's garment district.
St. Bernard-Jacobs called herself a "privileged bystander" — until the election of President Donald Trump galvanized her. Out of fear for her biracial son, and concern for herself as an immigrant, St. Bernard-Jacobs got involved with the Jan. 21 Women's March by developing a Youth Ambassadors program that got young people across the country involved with the event. As a mother of a young son, St. Bernard-Jacobs worked to get lactation stations along the march route as well.
"All I could see was a sea of pink with no end in sight," St. Bernard-Jacobs said of the Women's March. "People doubted that a group of women can out-organize the critics." After the Women's March was criticized for not having a protest permit, she felt validated by its success.
With the lessons she learned, St. Bernard-Jacobs closed her talk with advice on how people new to social justice could start a movement right where they are. "Set aside time to educate yourself," St. Bernard-Jacobs encouraged. "Find ways to organize with friends." Listening, as St. Bernard-Jacobs described, is the hardest, but also the most important key to social justice. "Don't underestimate the power of one," St. Bernard-Jacobs said as she looked into the packed audience of mostly college students. "That one can be you."