Thousands gathered in cities across the nation and the globe on Saturday for the fourth annual Women’s March. While crowds were noticeably smaller than the first and second years of the march where some cities saw more than a quarter-million attendees, 2020’s were no less boisterous and remained focused on activating their base to head to the polls come election day. Organizers say people in some 180 cities participated.
In many cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest, demonstrators still turned up to march despite freezing temperatures, rain, and snow.
“Today, we will be the change that is needed in this world! Today, we rise into our power!” activist Donna Hylton told a crowd in Foley Square in New York City, according to NBC News.
The Washington Post reports in Washington, DC, activist Arndrea Waters King told attendees that the day’s march marked the 100 year anniversary of women winning the fight for the right to vote.
“Remembering is not enough,” said King. “We must see this march as a time of rededication and renewal…This can be the decade that ushers in new freedom.”
In Chicago, which drew between 8,000 and 10,000 demonstrators, organizers eschewed a large rally with speakers beforehand, instead focusing on shepherding people to various stations along the march where groups highlighted a series of issues they hoped attendees would be informed and act on. Along the march route from Grant Park to Federal Plaza, local groups passed out information and had conversations with passersby about climate justice, healthcare access, the 2020 census, gun violence prevention, and getting out the vote.
“I came here today because healthcare is a top issue for me, my family, my friends, and my organization,” said Brigid Leahy of Planned Parenthood Illinois. “Healthcare in the last few years has been under threat like we’ve never seen it before. There are constant attacks to healthcare by trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, kick people with pre-existing conditions off their health insurance, and sexual reproductive healthcare. We know abortion is under attack across the country.”
More than a dozen elected officials joined the Chicago march, including Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Robin Kelly, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, US Senator Dick Durbin, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“As a mother of a daughter, I want to make sure that the world she inherits is better and stronger than what I inherited,” Mayor Lightfoot told reporters in a press gaggle before the march began. “It’s up to us as adults and leaders to stand up and make sure we’re continuing to blaze a trail for those who are going to be coming behind us while recognizing that we can’t rest on our laurels. Everytime we do that we plateau and slip back.”
“I believe that representation matters, I believe that our voices matter,” said Stratton. “People are coming out to talk about the issues we all care about. We want to protect our planet, our right to decide what we do with our own bodies and our reproductive health choices. We want to protect our children from violence, our immigrant families and children who we’ve seen face the atrocity of being locked up in cages. We want to protect the ability to support our men and women behind bars and thinking about women in particular whose voices are often not included in the conversation about justice reform. This is an opportunity for people to come out, lift up our voices and say ‘this is what we care about.’”
As demonstrations came to a close in Washington and Chicago, smaller groups of demonstrators broke off the main marches and headed to properties owned by President Donald Trump.
“Women’s March Chicago is what activated me,” said Jax West. “When Trump was elected and I felt like the world was ending, what can I do? I came to the Women’s March. And you felt the love of all different people – not just women – we have plenty of men and children here. The Women’s March is like home and a safe place. When we’re coming into 2020 when there’s so much work to be done this is the best place to kick it off that we know now it’s time to have boots on the ground.”