Minnesota Women's March January 21, 2017

Activism

We asked a few Stand Up Minnesota members some basic questions about the Women’s March that took place internationally on January 21, 2017. We wanted to know where and why they marched, and what each one felt was unique about their experience. We also asked if they had ever participated in a protest march before, and if there was anything else they would like to say about it. 

Here are their stories.

Claire K. (left)
From Duluth, Minnesota
Marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March Washington D.C.

Why did you march?

“I bought my plane ticket from Duluth, Minnesota to Washington DC on the day the Women’s March was announced, even though the people who proposed marching there initially had little information about what was going to happen, or where the march would begin or end, or why the participants were supposed to be marching at all. I didn’t care about the details; I was eager to take to the streets to protest the election of someone that I consider to be a con man, a misogynist, a racist and a xenophobe – especially since the woman that he ran against was eminently more qualified to be POTUS.

I was marching for me because I feel so strongly about my equality as a woman, but I was also doing it for my mother, whose career as a registered nurse ended when she married my father. She bore him 11 children and, as the years passed, held onto her broken marriage with the desperation of a woman who didn’t know how to live her life without a man.

Most of all, I was marching for my daughter, who had grown up in President Obama’s America, where anything was possible for her and for President Obama’s two daughters: two African-American girls roughly my daughter’s age that lived in the White House. It terrifies me that my daughter might be an adult woman living in a world like Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. (Correction: It scares the shit out of me.)

I didn’t have to worry about lodging because I have relatives who live in the Washington District who could put me up; I just had to get myself there. I arrived on the evening of January 19, and, the next day, it was so obvious that the Women’s March was going to upstage the Inauguration in terms of numbers and enthusiasm. The only evidence that there had been a Presidential Inauguration earlier that day, when I ventured downtown that evening, was a long line of elites in fancy dress standing on the sidewalk on Massachusetts Avenue, waiting to enter one of the balls taking place. Other than that, the streets belonged to Women’s Marchers, and I saw pink pussy hats everywhere.

I watched the Inaugeration with my 12-year-old niece, who, incidentally, is an adopted immigrant from Indonesia. Afterwards, I went to Comet Ping Pong, the pizzeria which has been the victim of Pizzagate, a bizarre conspiracy theory that recently prompted a rightwing nutcase to go there and open fire with an assault rifle.

The place was packed with many customers of both sexes wearing pink pussy hats, and after lunch, I went next door to Politics & Prose Bookstore, which was also packed and had a line of people outside hoping to enter. The bookstore was holding a teach-in on the impact of the Trump administration on women’s rights. One of their featured speakers was New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister, who has quite the following.

I then bopped down to Penn’s Quarter because I’d heard that Eve Ensler and Michael Moore were going to speak at the 5th and K Street location of Busboys & Poets’. There was a long line of people waiting to get in, also, and I despaired, until I finally climbed a fence and stormed one of the side entrances with some other people.

I missed Eve Ensler but Michael Moore delivered his customary barn-burner of a speech, comparing the Women’s March participants to early 20th century suffragettes and to 1960s civil rights activists. He urged the crowd to “put on our shit-kicking boots” in defense of American’s Constitutional rights, and concluded his remarks by declaring, “My friends, we here at Busboys and Poets are the majority in this country. We walk out of here tonight like we fucking own this place.”

What’s unique about your experience?

At the same time that I was bopping around downtown Washington DC, my 19-year-old daughter Rachel back in Duluth decided that she, too, also had to be a part of history and had to be in Washington DC for the Women’s March!

That day, Rachel bought a ticket from the Minneapolis to Baltimore because she could not get a direct flight to Washington DC; she later told me that her plane was full of women going to the March. Two of those women drove her that night from Baltimore airport to the Washington District so that she and I could get up early the next day to march. This Mama Bear would like to say THANK YOU to these women, whoever they are.

The next morning, at the last minute, 12-year-old Natalie decided that she wanted to march with us, so we all went. We encountered groups of people also heading there, and the camaraderie was almost palpable. We even got some pink pussy hats from a woman on a street corner who was distributing them from a big box.

The March itself was a little anticlimactic after all my adventures and celebrity sightings. It was so crowded that at some points we could not even move, and no one knew what was going on. We would occasionally march and chant when someone took the lead but it was disorganized and chaotic. So many people! We marched for about three hours, most of it on the Mall, from the Capitol towards the Washington Monument. The March itself was OK: We stuck around long enough to be counted, and then decided that we needed some food as well as a break from all the people.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

While the March didn’t play out exactly as I’d anticipated, I am proud to have marched and to have been a part of history. Most of all, I am proud that my daughter marched next to me and that her cousin marched next to her. Even if my worst fears are realized and Donald Trump destroys the country I love by molding it into a real-life Handmaid’s Tale, my daughter and my niece will always know that I, and so many others throughout the world – men, women and children – didn’t go down without a fight. Mission accomplished… and then some.”

Eileen M.(left) with
Jane S. (right)
From Minneapolis, Minnesota
and m
arched in St. Paul

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March in Minneapolis

Why did you march?
“I marched because everything I value is being threatened. Clean water? Clean air? Abolishing the EPA and national parks. Saving the planet for our children? Easing of pollution standards to make a profit. Pro-choice? Separation of church and state? Minority rights? Health care? You name it and it’s being threatened.

What’s unique about your experience?
First off, I’m Filipina and there aren’t many in Minnesota. Second, I went with someone else who has arthritis, and we stuck to the edges of the crowd and read signs to avoid being squished. My friend and I said we’d do as much as we could, and that if either of us hurt, we’d call it a day.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
My friend Jane protested the Vietnam War with her toddlers; I’ve done pro-choice, environmental and Planned Parenthood marches.

Anything you’d like to add?
I’m relieved and blown away that 100,000 people showed up for this. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I know I’m not alone.”


Mary A.

From Minneapolis, Minnesota
and marched in St. Paul

Stand Up Minnesota Healthcare Women's March


Why did you march?
“I marched with my husband for many reasons, but we chose to focus on healthcare. We are retired physicians and have seen the devastating effects on patients and families of having inadequate insurance coverage, or none at all. I used to perform Social Security disability exams and saw many people who had become unable to work because of disability, but then became sicker and sicker when they couldn’t get treatment for such conditions as diabetes. People lost vision, had amputations of limbs, went without needed medication, and didn’t get equipment that might have made it possible for them to return to working – all because they could not afford medical care. We have also spent many months living and traveling in Europe and have seen the benefits of universal healthcare. Entrepreneurs can start small businesses without being consumed with worry about their own coverage and distracted by the complexity of providing health insurance for their employees. I knew from my involvement in a family business, and from the experiences of others, that the costs of small-group policies impacted hiring decisions, added administrative costs, and could turn disastrous for the whole business if even one employee or employee’s child suffered a catastrophic illness.

There are so many other very important reasons to march – protection of the environment, especially with respect to climate change, social justice for racial and sexual minorities, free and fair elections with voting rights for all citizens, support of science, economic justice, rational gun control, availability of comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women, early childhood education, equitable support for K-12 to give all children quality schooling, elimination of predatory and unaffordable college loan programs, international peace and justice with a focus on foreign aid rather than foreign wars, and so many more – each of which is very important to us.

What’s unique about your experience?
I have never been in such an enormous crowd. The mood was solemn with moments of optimism and laughter from the energy and enthusiasm of the marchers. We could feel the force of public pressure building not just against the current government, but for a better democracy.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
My husband had been in many marches against the Vietnam war, including picketing at the Paris Peace Talks. We marched against the Iraq war. 

Anything you’d like to add?
The march energized me to get involved at a higher level in action to protect our healthcare and join with others to strategize not just to limit the damage but to work for a truly better system.”

 

Curtis J.
Marched in St. Paul, Minnesota

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March

Why did you march?
“I marched in St. Paul with 100,000 of my best friends. Like many of my fellow marchers, I could pick from a number of issues that concerned me. The proposed Muslim registry, attacks on public education, science, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, voter suppression and the list goes on.  But the real reason I marched was because I was raised by a strong mother who showed me by words and deeds that I could not sit quietly when the rights of others are threatened. I marched because my wife and I are raising two amazing young women and we want them to know in the words of Michelle Obama that “the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”.

Have you ever participated in a protest march before?
I attended my share of protests when I was in college but none since then.

What’s unique about your experience?The thing that made this protest particularly special was its diversity. The diversity was not limited to the protesters, there was a diversity of ideas. When a person with a women’s rights sign saw a person with a sign talking about climate change they would both nod approvingly and move forward. It was like all the protesters understood that they were in this together.  It is an experience I will never forget.

What I also found unique about this experience was how open all the protesters were to all of these different ideas. People were exchanging information concerning future marches on specific issues. There truly was this feeling of “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”  This march exceeded everyone’s expectations including those of the protesters.”


Shelley S.

From Roseville
, Minnesota
and marched in St. Paul


What’s unique about your experience?

“I got my pink hat supplies at The Yarnery in St. Paul, where they had the pink shades together on a table and handed me two patterns I could use to make a hat. Quite a difference…” [when compared to shopping at The Joy of Knitting yarn shop in Tennessee.]

(Shelley is commenting on a widely posted article quoting The Joy of Knitting‘s owner saying, “…I ask that you if you want yarn for any project for the women’s movement that you please shop for yarn elsewhere. The vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and is not welcomed at The Joy of Knitting…”]

Kimmy K.
From Minnetonka
, Minnesota
and marched in St. Paul

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March

What’s unique about your experience?

I’ll tell you what it is like to have 100,000 friends…

On Saturday I went to the St. Paul March. Somewhere between walking around with a crazy-happy grin on my face, connecting with my buds, and taking it all in I lost my train ticket (which a complete stranger gifted me at the platform), ID, bank card, credit card, and $40. I’d put them in a zip bag in the same pocket I was carrying my phone. At some point, I dropped the zip bag.

I really believed in my ♡ that the finder would mail it to me. I mean… consider the crowd. (Yes, I did still cancel my cards, and since my driver’s license needed to be renewed anyway, did that on Monday morning). 

I wanted to believe in ALL THAT GOOD VIBE – which was overwhelming.
Yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I thought the items would arrive in the mail. He didn’t want to break my heart and say otherwise.

LOOK AT WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL TODAY!!!!
Thank you, Maya, for proving that Women’s Marchers are the best group of stranger friends a girl could have!”


Janis H.
 (left) from Minneapolis
and marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March


Why did you march?
I marched in D.C. I registered the day I heard. I had to be there.

I marched because this election proved that misogyny is alive and well in the US. The most qualified candidate lost because she was a woman. This country elected a sexist, biased buffoon rather than a woman. 

I marched for all women, everywhere. Pro-life, pro-choice, black, white, Muslim, lesbian, disabled, elderly — all women. I truly believe that women are the future. Feminine energy will change this country and the world. And the March, as it spread around the world, peaceful and positive, bore that out.

Women have a direct interest in peace: our children and grandchildren. We know that the answer is not hatred or bombs, but compassion and listening and walking the walk.

What’s unique about your experience?
I attended the march with a pro-life friend. I absolutely believe in a woman’s right to choose, but we can hold differing opinions and still love each other.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
I grew up in San Francisco in the 60s and marched with my parents in many protests, against the Vietnam War, for People’s Park in Berkeley, and for civil rights in Serramonte, a housing development that excluded African Americans.

I was discouraged by this election. Outraged and hurt and wondering who I knew who had voted for a man who poses a real threat to our democracy.

What’s unique about your experience?
Seeing so many of us come together, recognizing that we are in the same boat has inspired me. We will only prevail if we stand together and fight. And this country is absolutely worth fighting for.

Anything you’d like to add?
I will fight on.”

 

Will B. (right)
From St. Louis Park,
attends Gustavus College
in St. Peter, Minnesota

and marched in St. Paul

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March

Why did you march?
“I marched because I believe that protest is an essential aspect of democracy.  I want to send the message to Donald Trump that we won’t just stand by and let him enact his problematic policies that overwhelmingly discriminate against women, people of color and LGBTQ peoples.

What was unique about your experience?
I really enjoyed the intersectionality of the event.  People were preaching racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, as well as women’s rights. I was also overwhelmed and overjoyed by the size of the crowd!

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
I’ve marched for Black Lives Matter.

Anything you’d like to add?
I hope the left can use the momentum from this movement to get progressives elected in 2018 and defeat Donald Trump in 2020.”


Kathi H.

From a town of 700

Heron Lake, in southwest Minnesota and marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March


What’s unique about your experience?
I drove 90 miles to catch a bus to ride with many other Minnesota women and a few men and children to Washington DC to March. As far as I know, I was the only one, or one of only a very few from our area of the state to March. My situation is somewhat unique in that I am a tiny dot of blue in a very red area of Minnesota.”

Why did you march?
I feel so alone on a daily basis in my progressive values and beliefs. I marched for vulnerable people that are at risk in the trump administration – the poor, elderly, immigrants, the disabled. Republicans in congress and trump have put programs that help the marginalized on the chopping block – Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, the ACA and who knows what else. I weep when I think about it.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
In the past I have not been very active politically but do keep up with news and I read legitimate, factual sources. I recognize “fake news” and “alternative facts”. The DC march was my first march but certainly not my last. It was truly exhilarating to march beside like-minded people. I was so proud to be there participating in this historic, epic event with so many awesome, authentic like-minded people of all creeds, colors, genders and ages. I was amazed at the kindness, respectfulness and goodness of everyone I met or observed. Yesterday I again drove those 90 miles (one way) to meet with progressive women who are now my friends to attend a democratic “Call to Action” meeting”. I’m ready to fight.

Anything you’d like to add?
My challenge is to participate locally – I plan to contact the democratic chair of our county to get involved. I plan to volunteer at a collaborative in a neighboring, larger, very diverse city to assist immigrants to our area in whatever way I can. When there are marches in Minneapolis (175 miles away) I’m going – and example is the march on April 15th concerning trump’s taxes. When there are bills being discussed at the state legislature that affect the things I value, I’ll try to get there to support our state democrats. The march profoundly affected me and I want my actions to show it.


What’s unique about your experience?
I drove 90 miles to catch a bus to ride with many other Minnesota women and a few men and children to Washington DC to March. As far as I know, I was the only one, or one of only a very few from our area of the state to March. My situation is somewhat unique in that I am a tiny dot of blue in a very red area of Minnesota.

Why did you march?
I feel so alone on a daily basis in my progressive values and beliefs. I marched for vulnerable people that are at risk in the trump administration – the poor, elderly, immigrants, the disabled. Republicans in congress and trump have put programs that help the marginalized on the chopping block – Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, the ACA and who knows what else. I weep when I think about it.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
In the past I have not been very active politically but do keep up with news and I read legitimate, factual sources. I recognize “fake news” and “alternative facts”. The DC march was my first march but certainly not my last. It was truly exhilarating to march beside like-minded people. I was so proud to be there participating in this historic, epic event with so many awesome, authentic like-minded people of all creeds, colors, genders and ages. I was amazed at the kindness, respectfulness and goodness of everyone I met or observed. Yesterday I again drove those 90 miles (one way) to meet with progressive women who are now my friends to attend a democratic “Call to Action” meeting”. I’m ready to fight.

Anything you’d like to add?
My challenge is to participate locally – I plan to contact the democratic chair of our county to get involved. I plan to volunteer at a collaborative in a neighboring, larger, very diverse city to assist immigrants to our area in whatever way I can. When there are marches in Minneapolis (175 miles away) I’m going – and example is the march on April 15th concerning trump’s taxes. When there are bills being discussed at the state legislature that affect the things I value, I’ll try to get there to support our state democrats. The march profoundly affected me and I want my actions to show it.”

 

Katie (left) and Daphne M.(right)
From Upper Peninsula of Michigan but originally from Owatonna, Minnesota and lived in and went to college in Duluth and St.Paul. Marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March

Why did you march?
My daughter and I marched for so many reasons. I have been hearing a lot of flack from the right saying things like, “What was their focus? What exactly were they marching for or against?” We were marching for women’s rights, for our choice to make decisions about our own bodies. We marched for Black Lives Matter. We marched for our LGBTQ friends and community. We marched for all faiths and all races. We marched against EVERYTHING that the Trump administration stands for. We marched for the Earth, for science, for TRUTH.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
I have always been somewhat politically involved, I volunteered for Hilary’s campaign. I have always been involved in things to help my community and try to make a difference… but this election lit a fire under us. Watching my children’s faces as that tape of Trump talking about sexually assaulting women made the Mama Bear in me absolutely ferocious. Since his election (after a night of my teenage children weeping on my chest), my family has been very actively resisting this Presidency however we can. We have been to multiple marches, written many postcards, made many phone calls, sent emails, and joined many groups. We made backpacks full of warm things and gift cards and food and toiletries for the homeless and handed them out in Chicago. My college daughter has joined her college Dems group and has tabled for Black Lives Matter. She also is volunteering at soup kitchens, etc. 

What’s unique about your experience?
We rode a bus to Washington DC. It was a brutal 18-hour trip ONE WAY. We got off the bus and immediately boarded the Metro and marched all day and then got right back on the bus for the 18-hour journey home. So, literally from 1pm Friday to 3pm Sunday we did not lie down. My daughter and I also had a 3-hour car ride home on both ends of the trip. This is a group of hardcore people! I am not going to lie, it was physically y exhausting, but it was worth it. 

On the bus my daughter and I met 2 incredibly amazing firecracker women in their 60s. Both had protested the Vietnam War and had been fighting for women’s rights etc for decades. We also met a 30-year-old female reporter and a 45-year-old engineer who is the only female at the mine she works at. The 6 of us really bonded and decided to spend the march together. These 4 women treated my daughter as an equal. They wanted to know what she thinks about things and what it is like for her at school, etc. We gained so much knowledge from each other and our combined life experiences. The reporter took photos and interviewed us along the journey. We laughed together and cried together. I have been in contact with all of them now several times since the march. I think we will all be great life long friends. When would this ever happen in life? 6 women meet as total strangers on a bus ages 16 to 65 and end up bonding and sharing a life altering experience? 

Watching my 16-year-old proudly hold her head high and hold up her handprinted sign and chant and sing was a profound experience. Watching her develop into a caring, passionate, intelligent , and AWARE young woman has been an amazing thing. She is a singer-songwriter and wrote a song about the march. She is also very involved in her Equality Club at school. When the reported asked her what she was most surprised about at the march her response was “I was never scared.” The police had hats and were high giving us. Everyone was so supportive of each other. It felt like we were all one big amoeba. 

https://youtu.be/Spt6Tqco5Gk     (“Stand Tall” by Daphne Maki)

We have now participated in three protest marches. One when Trump was elected, one to protect the ACA, and the DC Women’s march. I am sure there will be many many more to come. Heading to a Planned Parenthood march in a few weeks. 

Anything you’d like to add?
It was incredibly empowering to wear our Pussy hats and OWN that word. I said that word more in three days than I had in my 43 years. It gave me such a new perspective on the power of language. Pussies are strong. They are the strongest body part in the human body! I wear my hat everywhere I go every day and am so amazed at how many people stop me and give me a high five in my rural area that voted very RED. 

It was just so important for us women who live in rural America in a majority red voting area, to see that WE are NOT ALONE! That we are NOT the minority in this country. That we can make a difference and our voices can be heard.”


Cheryl O.
(left)
From Apple Valley
and marched in St. Paul

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March


Why did you march?
I am a woman, a mother, a grandmother and I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am a healer, a massage therapist, and a nurse. These roles contribute to who I am, and I have taken these roles seriously, except one: I have been remiss in my role as a citizen of this great country. I vote, I work, I pay taxes, I volunteer.  However, loving your country requires more.

On the day I came to fully understand the requirements of citizenship, I came to deeply love my country. It became more than my home. It is my first child, my first patient, my first client. It is my hope and aspiration. It is the realization that love is much more than a feeling—It is an action. It requires continual attention and nurturance. That was the day I became an activist. It was that day that I decided I needed to be all in—to call my legislators to remind them they work for me, to write letters to the editor to affect public policy and to participate in public demonstration when bolder statements are required. This past election cycle required that bolder statement.

Those were qualities that I saw in Barack Obama when I asked him to run for President. Obama was destined to be our next president; he was (part of the) the fulfillment of Martin Luther King’s Dream. In hindsight, I feel guilty for having asking him to run for president.  We, this country, treated him badly. Not just the Republicans who made a choice to choose being a Republican over working together to solve a financial collapse and to address a health care delivery system that was not available to many of our citizens, but we Democrats did not have his back as we asked him to do our bidding. We allowed him do the majority of that heavy lifting.

To be a citizen of this great nation requires you to love your country. It means you are all in. You stand up for what is right and you stand down for what wrong. You work with your neighbors, within our communities, to find common areas of concern to solve the problems that come hand-in-hand with a diverse population. It is this diversity that makes America great. It is this diversity that is the demonstration of America’s heart. It in the blood energy of this country. 

America is a better country than what we are living today. I had a quadruple heart bypass in July 2016. I survived. I had excellent insurance. I believe not only should I have excellent insurance but that everyone should. When I was in the hospital, when the TV pundits kept talking about dismantling Obamacare (ACA,) I would start to go into cardiac arrest and my blood pressure rose to 250/200. God/the goddess energy allowed me to survive along with excellent medical care (which has just gotten better since the implementation of the ACA.) I survived to live and love and build community. I did not survive to live in a world of hate.  

WHAT DO I STAND UP FOR? I stand up for the 💗 of America. I stand up for bipartisan legislation that is crafted by and for WE THE PEOPLE (that makes financial sense) but —MOST IMPORTANTLY, reflects the BEAUTIFUL SPIRIT AND ️💗 OF America. 

Anything you’d like to add?
So, if there are those among you who want to be part of a community that chooses to embrace love over to divide and separate, to help rather than to judge, and are ready to use their voices in these goals–please join me. Become an activist.  For those who are unsure, let’s open up some communication. For those of you who have decided to keep your life of hate and division—move on, there is no room for you here. I am Looking for the 💗 OF America!  Come join me!”

 

Angela T.
From Eagan, Minnesota
Marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March

Why did you march?
I marched for so many reasons. My mom lives on Social Security and uses expanded Medicare benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act. My sister-in law is a nurse, my brother is a teacher. My family is Mexican and although we were born here, it’s impossible to separate the hate directed at others from your own race. I have a diverse set of friends that includes members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. I’m a feminist. Our rights as women are more tenuous every day. I work in public policy, have spent the last 15 years serving the public and trying to make our communities a bit better each day. Since the election, it seems like there’s a new outrage every day. I just didn’t want to complain about politics, I wanted to DO something about it. I felt like I had to march to speak out as forcefully as possible against the injustices we are seeing every day. 

What’s unique about your experience?
I took a coach bus from St. Paul to DC. with about 55 other marchers. I think maybe 10 buses left from Minnesota. We left Friday morning, drove through the night, and arrived early morning in DC. We marched all day Saturday, then left around 7:00 that night. We drove all night and arrived back in St. Paul in the afternoon on Sunday. It was pretty grueling and certainly not extravagant. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone that long without sleep before. I think it helped to remind us that we weren’t on a vacation, but rather a mission. 

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
I’ve never been politically active at all, except for voting. But we live in a new reality now and being passive is no longer an option.”


Ben F M
From and marched
in Duluth, Minnesota

Stand Up Minnesota Duluth


Why did you march?

To some it may seem strange that a man would put on a hat with cat ears on it and go marching for women’s rights. Some would wonder what a man was doing there at all. Others might not believe that showing up to march would accomplish anything. A few might even think it was somehow disrespectful to the president who had taken the oath of office just the day before. For me, it didn’t just make sense, it was necessary.

Women’s rights are human rights. This isn’t just about a woman’s right to choose, this is about basic human rights. Access to basic healthcare is a human right. This president and his second-in-command have views about women and women’s health that aren’t just disgusting, they are scientifically wrong. They have either a lack of understanding about what clinics like Planned Parenthood do and why they’re important or they are just looking for a scapegoat to focus people’s attention on.

In Trump’s case, I believe it’s likely ignorance. He hasn’t shown that he really cares about anyone but himself so it is unlikely that he would care about protecting unborn children any more than he cares about helping Syrian refugees. Pence, however, has shown that he has draconian views on women’s rights, even going as far as to sponsor a bill that required a woman to prove her rape was ‘forcible’ to receive government assistance to end a pregnancy caused by that rape. He even signed a law banning private insurance from covering abortion costs, even if the child will be born with severe and life-threatening anomalies.

Rape culture is a real, serious problem. When a group of accused rapists involved in an alleged sexual assault on one of their classmates were suspended from the U of M football team, one of their statements was that they “never considered her feelings” when their team threatened to stage a walk out. That right there clearly exemplifies this issue. Of course, they never considered her feelings; nobody who stopped to consider the feelings of another could possibly act in such a way. Trump talks casually about sexual assault and passes it off as something every man does “in a locker room” and this is unacceptable. Every man who claims that “not all men” behave this way has an absolute obligation to get on his feet and prove it by standing with us to fight for women’s rights.

The unacceptable behavior that is not just rumor or alleged behavior by our current president should be a disqualifier for public service. It is a clear demonstration that he does not value or care about everyone equally. His statements are too crude to fully document, but they range from bragging about sexually assaulting women to calling mothers who pump breast milk for their infants disgusting. He has written that women are there only as aesthetic objects to please men and his further statements and actions are proof positive that he truly believes those words.

This isn’t just about policy or politics. This is about teaching my children about the fundamental differences between right and wrong. It’s not up to just women to defend women. We are all in this together. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided by race, sex, sexual orientation or religious or political affiliation. Standing up for everyone’s rights is an absolute civic responsibility. So for my wife, my mother, my daughter, my aunts, and for my father, my brother, my uncles, my son, my cousins, my friends, even my enemies and for myself; for us all I took to the streets and refused to be silent.  Women’s rights are human rights.”

 

Joan P.
From Duluth, Minnesota
Marched in Washington DC

Stand Up Minnesota Women's March Washington D.C.

Why did you march?
I marched for my sister who was shot and killed in a domestic shooting in 1992. Her spirit walked with me.

I was one of the thousands of marchers who found her way to Washington DC from Duluth. As a bus captain on one of 2 buses that had 110 passengers, mostly from Duluth but also from the Twin Cities, it turned into a responsibility to keep people informed and try to make the experience the best it could be. 

What I, and I know all of the others, experienced once we got off the bus, was almost euphoric. It felt like a weight had been lifted from our shoulders as we melded with the marchers in pink hats. 

What’s unique about your experience?
I will never forget the residents who came out in their yards to thank us for coming as we began our march after we got off the buses through residential neighborhoods. I will never forget the man who asked if he could give me a hug. I will never forget the polite marchers and the feeling of solidarity. I will never forget the two bus drivers who wore our pink hats and said they were honored to wear the hats. 

Have you ever taken part in a protest march before?
Well, I am the Co-President of the Northland Chapter of the Brady Campaign; a Board member for the Brady Campaign/Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Protect Minnesota – preventing gun injuries and deaths; Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs- the Duluth Model. 

“No background check, no gun, no excuses.”

Anything you’d like to add?
This was the beginning of a powerful movement and advocacy to make our voices heard and new relationships were formed. We are continuing to advocate through postcard-writing parties and communicating with each other.


Mary K.
From Duluth, Minnesota
Marched at Washington DC


Why did you march?
“I am 67 years old. I have always taken on a role as an advocate, but primarily as a union activist for Nurses’ issues. It would be an educated guess on the part of others that my primary reason to march would be related to health care, and while, I am still an advocate for Single Payer health care and it is on a list of reasons I marched, it was not the primary incentivizer for me, and yes, I do know that is not a word, but seems apt.

This campaign felt like a personal assault. The current President stole some of my dignity, and stole at least a piece of humanity from all of us. So many emotions came to the surface as a woman. A woman who has seen and suffered indignities, slights, and abuse over decades, some of which I didn’t recognize and others I decided to shrug off. Those are hard facts to admit. My silence helped to allow this election to have the result it did.

I marched because I want to say publicly that I will never be silent again. I marched because I want my granddaughters to understand this behavior and attitudes are not normal. I want to empower them as women.

Marching alongside hundreds of thousands of folks I have never met, and yet none were strangers, was balm for the wounds of this election. The gathering of all these souls filled me up with hope. I felt validated. I felt energized. Walking to the rally, my emotions were raw watching people stream toward their goal; mothers and daughters, granddaughters, sisters, husbands, partners, some on crutches or using canes, some in wheelchairs, young and old, coming from across the nation together in a common cause and yet so many different interests.

During the four hours that I walked and stood and mingled with this amazing group, I never heard a single swear word, a cross voice. I never saw an inebriated attendee, nor heard a rude comment. It was the most orderly, courteous and generous group I have ever encountered, people who shared their story, offered encouragement, or shared their water.

What was unique about your experience?
I carried the names of 71 of my friends on the back of my sign who were not able to be, but wanted to be at the March in Washington DC. I carried them literally in my hands and in my heart. I marched for them, as well as myself. I came home with some of my dignity restored, and my restoration of hope for humanity.”

John D.
From Duluth, Minnesota
Marched in Washington DC

Why did you march?

“Liberty and justice for ALL” INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN”
“That is the sign I carried while marching with hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens on the streets of our nation’s capital at the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017. The words of the Pledge of Allegiance mean that, at every moment in her life, a woman is free to decide her role; protecting that liberty is justice. From birth, children are dependent on society, which must participate in nurturing their growth into liberty.

I got on the bus in Duluth on Friday morning with a send-off from a daughter and a co-worker; I wore a hot pink pussy hat knitted by another co-worker. Shortly after we left, a fellow passenger interviewed me and asked why I was marching. Suddenly I knew that, as a man, I had a legitimate voice among the dozens of women nearby who wore pussy hats and were determined to cry out against repression. I choked up and had to pause before expressing outrage at anti-women statements and attitudes demonstrated in the past year by a substantial minority of my fellow U.S. citizens who elected our new president.

During the bus trip, many dynamic people shared their story; that was gratifying. Fortunately, I encountered a friend who was riding with her granddaughter. We decided to march together and spent the day on foot, with occasional rests. Upon arriving in Washington at 10am, we walked 2.5 miles to the rally point near the US Capitol Building. The crowd was enormous, and we were too far from the stage to hear the speakers and performers. Nevertheless, the people, the signs, and the feeling of purpose made for a camaraderie that lifted everyone’s spirits.

When the time came to march we found that we could not move. Commands were called out through the crowd: “March down Jefferson!” but no one could move. “March down Independence!” Still, no one could move. Finally, they cried, “March down Third!” and the crowd began to move. 

There was chanting, waving, cheering, “Show us what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” Emotions spiked each time the wave of a spontaneous roar passed through the crowd. We marched a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue. As we approached the White House, the crowd was turned onto 12th Street, which goes gently uphill. Looking back, I saw that the river of marchers I was in was joined by an entire other river that had marched down Independence Avenue and turned to join us. Tthe sight of so many people in a haze of pink was overwhelming. Making our way back toward the Capitol, we looked down side streets and saw the river of pink still marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. We climbed Capitol Hill and returned to the bus. Along the way, a public school had opened its doors, offering marchers a place to sit and a restroom. One of the officials in charge said that DC police estimated a record crowd at 1.2 million.

Making our way back to Duluth, my fellow marchers and I were subdued but so happy to have done something historic and to be citizens in a vibrant democracy.”