Thousands Take To The Streets On First Anniversary Of Women’s March

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One year after hundreds of thousands protested in the streets, people still have something to march about. (Photo by Kimberly Dijkstra)

“One Year Later Twice As Angry,” one woman’s sign read among a crowd of tens of thousands who marched down the streets of New York City on Saturday, Jan. 20. A year after the Women’s March on Washington broke demonstration records, dozens of cities around the country held anniversary marches and rallies to express their anger at the current administration and to provide hopeful messages for the future.

Pink hats flooded the streets along with signs, banners and even marching bands. The event drew a diverse crowd of every age, race and creed. Marchers pushed strollers alongside those in wheelchairs to support the movement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior advisor officially estimates at least 200,000 people attended the NYC march. Central Park West was packed with protesters from Columbus Circle all the way up to 90th Street for several hours. The march route continued down 6th Avenue and ended at 45th Street.

The Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC) estimates nationwide crowds to be approximately 1.6 million, with several hundred turning out for the Long Island sister march in Port Jefferson, organized by Long Island Rising.

“Today culturally, electorally and as a grassroots effort, women are the most important political force in the United States of America,” said Shoshana Hershkowitz, local progressive activist and speaker at the rally. “This women’s movement is not about politics. It’s about values and opportunity. And it’s not a single-issue movement. There is much work to be done.”

Brendon Henry also spoke. He is one of six Democrats vying for the chance to run against Lee Zeldin for Congress in the 1st district in November.

Cat Troiano, of Yaphank, brought signs and her voice to the Port Jefferson march. “I marched in solidarity as part of the ongoing resistance, because I will fight long, loud and hard to preserve and restore respect, reproductive freedom, health care and equal rights for all of our nation’s women,” she said.

As it did at last year’s demonstration, Long Island Rising collected hygiene items to donate to local women’s shelters.

Similar themes were tackled at the Manhattan event.

Mary McKenna, of Bellmore, marched in NYC both years. “I marched last year because I was horrified that Trump won and so happy to see I was not the only one who felt this way,” she said. “This year it was about equality for women. Enough is enough.”

The #MeToo movement has incited many women to speak out about sexual harassment and sexual abuse they have experienced. Singer-songwriter Halsey delivered an emotional speech in the form of a poem detailing her encounters with sexual assault and rape.

Christine LeNoble, of Wantagh, arrived early enough to the Central Park rally to hear the speeches and said Halsey’s poem brought everyone to tears.

“Walking this march brought on a very emotional and empowering feeling. There were women and men of all ages standing together, wanting a better world,” LeNoble said. “The young boys and girls that made their own signs were really touching.”

CJ, of Babylon, marched “because of the current discriminatory political climate directed towards people of color, LGBTQIA and people with disabilities.”

While CJ appreciated the solidarity expressed during the marches, she felt the focus on women was exclusionary towards transgender women and that the marches did not address recent murders of black trans women.

While marching and making the movement visible is important, organizers are clear that voting is the priority in 2018 and beyond. “Grab ‘em by the midterms,” “Grab him by the ballot box” and similar phrases were not uncommon among the thousands of signs displayed. Volunteers with clipboards moved through the crowds registering people to vote.

Sunday’s “Women’s March Anniversary: Power to the Polls” in Las Vegas, NV, is named as such because it kicks off a national voter registration tour. Organizers want to harness the collective energy of supporters to advocate for candidates whose policies represent the same values.

This type of “get out the vote” activism has already proven effective in special elections across the country, namely in Alabama where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special Senate race. Daily Kos reported that Democrats outperformed in most 2017 special elections.

The movement also pushes to elect more women and progressive candidates to office.

Time Magazine’s Jan. 29 issue features “The Avengers” on the cover—women who marched in 2017, then ran or are now running for political office.

In addition to the Las Vegas rally, sister events took place in cities like Dallas, Albuquerque, Miami, and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Australia and Germany, on Sunday.

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