Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Final Sistahs' march Saturday


Peggy Moore helped start Sistahs Steppin' in Pride a decade ago. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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The streets around Oakland's Lake Merritt will be flooded with women for the 10th and final Sistahs Steppin' in Pride Dyke March as supporters take part in the event Saturday, August 27.

The core organizers, many of whom founded Sistahs, haven't had time to reflect on their decision to close the chapter on the annual East Bay Dyke March since they announced it in March. They have been busy making this year's event the best they've ever produced.

The 10-member committee made the decision to let go of the event due to personal commitments, they said.

"People should expect a festival that is exciting and like a family reunion. They are going to see everything that we put forth for 10 years," said Mar Stevens, march and drum coordinator.

Marchers will gather at the pillars of Lake Merritt in Oakland (El Embarcadero and Grand Avenue) at 11 a.m. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan will present a proclamation and kick off the march at noon. The march concludes at nearby Snow Park (19th and Harrison streets), where there will be an afternoon festival until 6 p.m.

Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir top off the stellar line up of performers that include Animal Prufrock and the Frootie Flavors, Average Dyke Band, and DJ Luna on the main stage.

Emcees Vixen Noir, also known as Veronica Combs, and Alotta Boutte, also known as Chave Alexander, will be on hand to entertain the crowds and introduce community and political leaders. Retired Navy Commander and gay rights activist Zoe Dunning, City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Eleanor Palacios of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and activist Ericka Huggins are expected to attend.

An after-party runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Oasis.

For a decade, Sistahs has brought the East Bay's diverse queer women's community together in celebration during the last weekend of August. Up to 2,000 queer women have attended the event at its peak, said Peggy Moore, march co-founder.

"People have been devastated to see it go," said Lisbet Tellefsen, 50, merchandise and media coordinator, but the organizers are ready to move on to focus on new projects and their personal lives.

The timing is especially good now there are events such as Oakland Black Pride, Oakland Pride, and others that weren't around when Sistahs started as the East Bay's version of the Dyke March in conjunction with the former East Bay Pride activities, said Moore. The Pride event dissipated in 2003.

"This is the perfect time to lay this down, breath, sit back and appreciate what we've been able to accomplish in these past 10 years," said Tellefsen.

The founding members are proud of what they created in Oakland and how they have inspired other women's Pride events, in particular women of color Pride celebrations across the nation, said Moore.

Right now Moore is looking forward to a "very joyous time" and simply hopes the event will have a "good closing," she said.

"I think it's going to hit me, but it's going to be a slow hit," said Moore, about the end of Sistahs. A leader with Organizing for America, she is gearing up for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

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