[Spotlight] Molly Grace
Photo courtesy of Kristen Bryant
Molly Grace first caught my attention while I was browsing on Instagram. One of her posts was a picture of a frozen, ice-sickled building that read, “GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS” located at 515 Cherry St. in Winston-Salem. In her post, she jokes that this building would serve as a great meeting house for a women’s movement agenda planning and general activism-related activities. It scored over 100 likes and over 30 comments, all agreeing with her proposal. She said even though it was a “pipe dream-post,” she received positive feedback about the idea.
“I do have a very romantic idea of there being a place in town that could be a clubhouse for women,” Grace said. “Clubhouse, safe house for support groups. Whether it be a therapeutic support group, planning support group, advocacy projects (or) advocacy awareness.”
Grace is a community activist and advocates for a number of issues. She is a regular volunteer with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. She is also a district activist leader for the National Multiple Sclerosis society. Her work with both organizations seeks to promote affordable and available healthcare.
“In the past, in general, I have always been, and even before this year, sort of a champion for women’s rights, equality and also civil rights as well. Basically just equity in general.”
Grace said this has all been unofficial. When she was a business owner of a shop in downtown Winston-Salem called Kleur in September of 2016, she was using her storefront as a makerspace that held workshops, salons and discussions for the community. For one of the first events she held there, she held a two-hour, free Planned Parenthood advocacy and education event, where a representative from Planned Parenthood came and informed the people who showed up with what the organization was all about.
She also held an informative session on how to argue your point-of-view effectively and calmly. (Which, she said one way to do so, is to look the other in the eye and seek their respect while giving them respect in return. The only way you do that is to be poised, informed and back your claims up with facts.) However, her storefront closed so that she could pursue advocacy and community collaboration full time. “But I kind of love the idea of this woman’s clubhouse. Like maybe to get a membership for six months you pay $50, or $100,” she said. “You can come any time of day, to any of the events, they are all free: meetings, discussions, advocacy training. Any day if you are a member you can come in and bring a guest. We just have these events, and sometimes they are fun, sometimes they are serious, or sometimes something really shitty happens, and we can all come just to like lament and be like bummed out together.”
She said finding a space would be difficult, and the process of spearheading a project like this alone is impossible.
“I am kind of interested in figuring out if there is someone out there in the community that owns property, who has quite fixed it up yet, and aren’t going to get around to it for over a year, maybe, would they be willing to let us use it respectfully, for this purpose.”
For now, this may remain as Grace’s pipe-dream. But who knows, with enough community support and organization, just as we saw with the Women’s March in Washington and in Winston-Salem, anything is possible.
“Most change comes from people who are organized,” she said. “Obviously, any sort of mobilization has power, especially with numbers and especially with persistence.”