Meghan Markle praised the Ms. Foundation while accepting their signature Woman of Vision Award at New York’s Ziegfeld Ballroom Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
Markle, wearing a gold dress with daring cutouts that flouted royal protocol, began her speech by thanking journalist/activist and founding president of the foundation Gloria Steinem for her “sage advice” and “cheeky sense of humor.” She went on to recall flipping through the pages of Ms. magazine in her Cloverdale home as a child.
“I remember them vividly because the pictures were different. There was a diversity I hadn’t seen as often, both of color and of age, and the names were different. There were congresswomen, there were astronauts, and the topics were different,” she told the ballroom.
She noted that the images she saw in Ms. were “different from the covers of the magazines I would see at the grocery store checkout.”
Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was a subscriber to the magazine, and the future Duchess felt its “significance” even if she “was too young at the time to know what most of it meant.”
“Having these pages in our home, it signaled to me that there was just so much more than the dolled-up covers and the images that you would see on the grocery store covers. It signaled to me that substance mattered,” Markle continued. Steinem and President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation Teresa C. Younger beamed at her as she spoke.
“Ms. magazine was more than a tool that I inherently learned from; it was an invitation to pay very close attention to the fact that change is just one action away.”
The foundation has been strategically turning its efforts toward supporting and amplifying young community organizers. “The collective work of this foundation in pursuit of a world where everyone truly everyone is valued is just nothing short of awe-inspiring,” said Markle.
She commended the Ms. Foundation for creating “limitless possibility” for all “no matter their race, their gender, their class, sexual orientation, disability or age.”
“When I reflect on the time in my life when I was young, the imprints that were etched in my mind, I can now connect the dots in a much better way to understand how I became a young feminist and evolved into a grown activist,” she said. “Ms. was formative in that cocooning. It piqued my curiosity, and it became the chrysalis for the woman that I would become and that I am today.”
It contributed to her outspokenness about race and gender issues.
“Repetition is recognition, as they say, and the narrative on repeat that surrounded me allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard to stand up to injustice and to be not afraid of saying what you know is true and what is just and what is right.”
Other honorees at the event included Wanda Irving, co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project, Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, and co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown.
Tarana Burke wore pink in honor of her friendship with Brown and led the crowd in a singalong to serenade the strategist in appreciation for her work fighting racism and misogyny in the political sphere.
Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, Audra McDonald, Wendell Pierce, Erika Alexander, Raquel Willis, Ally Love and Angélique Roché were in attendance.
The current challenges to reproductive justice loomed over the night. Host Danielle Moodie announced that North Carolina representatives opted to overturn the governor’s veto of a proposed 12-week abortion ban before introducing Sweet Honey in the Rock, who performed a somber rendition of “Ella’s Song” to close the evening.
Guests left the ballroom as a chorus of “we who believe in freedom cannot rest” followed them through the doors.