For the third consecutive year, protesters gathered in the streets across America to march for equality and representation. On January 19, thousands of people nationwide participated in the annual Women’s March.
Following the inauguration of President Trump in 2017, inflamed activists and protesters held the first official Women’s March. Now, two years later, the organization faces controversy and allegations against its leaders.
Accused of making anti-semitic remarks, leaders and founders of Women’s March Inc. denied allegations against them, but still face a loss in support. In response to these claims, places like New Orleans, and cities in California and Chicago canceled the planned marches that were affiliated with the organization.
Additional organizations have been founded that share most of the same goals, and agendas as Women’s March Inc. but have ensured that people know that they have no connection to the organization itself.
“Conversation is key during this time of division as well as compromise. We forget that each of these women is in constant spotlight and must remember the purpose of the march in the first place, and the validity of that purpose” said DHS Sr. Aubrey Hirst, who attended the march in Washington D.C.
Despite divisions between supporters, marches still had high turn-out rates as protesters focused on their goals in achieving equality.
Building up to the 2019 Women’s March was the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court despite sexual assault allegations, the midterm elections, and the longest ever US government shutdown. This year’s march also had a large focus on protesting against President Trump and emotions leading up to the 2020 election.
While there were some political progressions for women in 2018, many people feel like steps have been taken in the opposite direction and that equality is becoming more difficult to reach.
“I was here two years ago and I felt it was very important to come back because we’ve kind of progressed backward in our country and I’m very upset by that,” said Kathy Barger, a protester who attended the Denver Women’s March.
With the march occurring at a height of controversial political events, emotions were running high as people passionately took to the streets.
“Since this year’s march was during the shutdown, the anger surrounding that was unique to the march. Overall, what was trivial about this year’s march was the turnout despite the controversy surrounding the founders of the Women’s March,” said Hirst.
While both large scale marches, as well as smaller and more local marches, were held to show support, there is still discrimination against people who identify as feminists.
There was a march held locally in Durango that aligned with the date of the national march, and was co-sponsored by UUFD (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango), Indivisible Durango, and Planned Parenthood that encouraged the community to advocate. Despite this, local feminists still have a hard time finding their place in the small town.
“I am a proud feminist and with education and experience came my identity. I am always willing to have conversations. Here in Durango, my intentions are extremely undermined and I have received a fair amount of hatred, but during the march I felt at home and that my voice was worth something,” said Hirst.
Any location will still include people who don’t support activists, but bigger cities tend to have larger venues where more people with the same goals and similar beliefs can gather.
The 2019 Women’s March in Denver, CO had an estimated turn-out of 80,000 people. Among the protesters were men and women, LGBTQ+, minorities, young and old, all demanding equality and sharing a common goal.
“I need to feel like there’s some outward sign of something changing. [The march] gives me a reason to feel like people care. You don’t actually see it, but it actually feels like its tangible almost because being a minority and white sometimes I just feel like a lot of people kind of sit back and watch things happen, and that indifference is just really draining and really disheartening. So this is a really, really great way of building that energy back up and having faith again,” said Minisha, a protester at the Denver march.
When asked why they were marching, many people offered a similar response. This goes to show that there is still some unity within the march.
“I am marching because I believe women deserve every opportunity that men have,” said Seth, another protester at the Denver march.
Put simply, a lot of people felt as if they were marching for too many reasons to count, and stated that they marched for everyone.
“I’m marching for everyone here and that can’t be here,” said Denver protester Katie Rosen.
This year’s march proved that even amongst divisions and controversies, the activists and protesters that gathered to march were united in a fight for equality.