I had no idea talking to legislators about cervical cancer would be my version of a good day. That just sounds so awkward right? I had never been in the Statehouse, and I had a deathly fear of talking to people in positions of power. I came alone, but I was met with a hundred other people who wanted the same things I did. Looking back to Bee Day of 2015, I now know that it was one of the highlights of my year.
I joined Tell Them’s email list about a year ago, not really knowing what to expect. I started seeing emails about Bee Day, their annual lobby day. When my Women’s Health professor Dr. Ramsdell promoted the event in class, I decided I should go and see what advocating for sexual and reproductive health was like. I knew almost nothing of the political system or laws in South Carolina, but I figured I’d find out everything along the way.
I walked to Bee Day from my dorm room at USC. I met some of the Tell Them team and the members of my group for the day (purple team ftw). My group leader asked me if I could manage social media coverage for the day, and I quickly agreed! I can tweet like a boss. I began typing up some drafts about the bills we were advocating for: the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act (H.3204), domestic violence reform (S.3), and sex education reform (H.3447). The fact sheets that Tell Them provided in my folder were super helpful for me to understand what these bills were for.
The group of people at Bee Day was so diverse. People came from all over the state. They all had different jobs and motivations for coming. People from all ages and genders came to advocate. I didn’t feel left out like I thought I might. My group leader answered all my questions, and she asked our whole group questions to make sure we were all getting to do what we came for.
I think one of my favorite parts from Bee Day was the lunch we had, where a few legislators joined us. I sat right next to Senator Katrina Shealy, and just listening to her speak with other members at the table was incredibly rewarding. The connections I made at Bee Day were a huge stepping stone for me and what I wanted to accomplish in the future.
Bee Day was my first experience with Tell Them, and now I work here. That day was really my first experience with South Carolina legislature, and from then on I only became more invested in it. I started following South Carolina politics much more closely, and I did some personal research into the systemic problems facing South Carolina. I became increasingly involved with grassroots activism in all fronts, but my heart was with sexual and reproductive rights. Even though I mostly did social media during Bee Day, absorbing all the information around me was extremely beneficial to my growth as an advocate for social justice.