The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
Subscribe
| more

Photo Gallery

Marching for All of US in Santa Rosa

thumb_2_Womens-March-600.jpg

Marching for All of US in Santa Rosa

Photo by Karen Monsén

By Tish Levee

It began with just a thought!

Teresa Shook, a grandmother and retired lawyer living in Hawaii, woke up November 9th and posted on Facebook, “I think we should march.” In 75 days that simple statement took hold—becoming the Women’s March on Washington and morphing into 673 “sister marches” worldwide, with over 5 million people.

Sonoma County Stands Together for Women.

Santa Rosa’s March, organized by Anne McGivern and Anne Kaine with the help of some 200 volunteers, started with a rally at City Hall. The 3,000 people expected became at least 5,000; according to law enforcement, possibly several thousand more.

Long rally – great speakers!

Government officials, community leaders, and activists exhorted us to send a message to Congress and the new Administration. 

•  Santa Rosa Councilwomen Julie Combs: “How do we stand?/TOGETHER!”

• Former Rep. Lynn Woolsey: “send texts, emails, snail mails, call, and be on the streets…we aren’t going back.”

• Rep. Jared Huffman: “be tough as nails and ready for action…”

• Retired Baptist minister Rev. Ann Gray Byrd, whose parents started the local NAACP: “Grab a board and hold on…grab a piece of hope from the shipwreck…Go in love.”

Enrique Yarce Martinez, a young intern at the North Bay Organizing Project: “Protest is righteous, but more than that Protest is Needed.”

Alicia Sanchez, KBBF President, speaking to the men: “If you are here, you are a good man.” “Men are not the enemy,” she added, “The enemy is injustice…inequality…violence…hatred.”

Together!

All genders, all ethnicities, all faiths – individuals, couples, families, babies, grandparents and great-grandparents – we were all peacefully there. Thrilled by all the men there – perhaps one-third of the crowd – I asked some I knew to share their experiences:

• Santa Rosa Anesthesiologist Michael Mundell, “I felt…pride in our community for organizing it,…in the civility and enthusiasm of every single person in that massive crowd,…in the message being sent – that citizens are not going to stand for any policies that will serve to diminish the basic rights of any human being in this land, if not the world.”

Phil Weil, a retired Spanish teacher at Santa Rosa High School, “How impressive to see the women, men, and teens united against turning science and society back (“again”) 100 years…I was particularly proud of my 93 year old mother-in-law, Barbara Boren.  Sitting on her walker,…she enthusiastically cheered speakers who exhorted the audience to put their beliefs into action.  She’s seen it all and doesn’t want to go back.”

Woody Hastings, the Renewable Energy Implementation Manager for the Center for Climate Protection, “I want to support an overwhelming rising up of women over the next few years that will take both houses of congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020. That is why I made a sign saying, “1920: Women Get the Vote/2020: Women Get the White House/Please!!”

•  Dr. Bill Uriarte, Past President of the Sonoma County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “Proud to have been a part of Women, men, kids and the elderly in a very Peaceful March.”

Chants, Signs, and Songs.

• Just a few chants were negative, but mostly I heard, “How Do We Stand – Together!” and “Si se Puede,” meaning “Yes it can be done!” 

• Some signs were specifically directed to Donald Trump, but most focused on issues for which we all were standing. Iconic designs, downloaded from the internet, waved next to home-made ones on poster board or cardboard.

“Women’s Rights ARE Human Rights,” “Love Not Hate Makes America Great!” and “Feminism Back by Popular Demand,” “A Man for Equality is a Man of Quality,” were popular, as were signs about climate change, such as,  “Sea-levels are Rising/Climate Change is Non-Partisan/Ice Melts.”

• The Wings of Victory Choir, a high point of the Rally, led us all in “This Little Light will Shine,” “If I had a Hammer,” “We Shall Overcome,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I was not the only one wiping my eyes as we sang. 

Taking Me Back.

I’ve always felt I missed out on the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, but as I stood there cheering, chanting, and singing with these thousands of people, I realized that this is the new Civil Rights Movement – a movement for ALL people and for the very Earth, herself.

We must take a page from the play books of the Woman Suffragists’ and Civil Rights Movements. We need to keep marching, demonstrating, writing letters, sending emails, making phone calls. We can’t let up, but we can succeed, if we persist. Make a plan for action and then do it! Check out these sites for ideas: https://www.womensmarch.com/100 and https://thesixtyfive.org/home. It looks as if the next big mobilization will be a Peoples’ Climate March in DC on April 29th, stay updated at https://350.org.

© Tish Levee, 2017