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Handmaids at the Oakland Womens March
Handmaids at the Oakland Womens March

Big Numbers for 2018 Woman’s March

Feb 16, 2018
by Tish Levee

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2017 “Hear my Voice;” 2018, “Hear my Vote.”

After having had the vote for 98 years, women are now organizing to use that vote to change the system, the country, and the world! And men are helping us do it (as in 2017, roughly one-third of those marching this year were men.) This year’s marches on January 20th and 21st focused in the US on registering voters—especially millennials, getting them to polls, and fielding more women candidates, with the slogan, “Power to the Polls.” (Outside the US, the slogan was “Look Back, March Forward.”)

Las Vegas chosen as the site for the anniversary of last year’s march in DC.

The site of the deadliest mass shooting in US history, Las Vegas is in a battleground state with a large immigrant population, one which recently elected the first Latina to the US Senate. Sunday’s event was the beginning of a national voter registration effort across 10 states, with the goal of registering at least one million people.

The 2017 women’s marches were the largest protests in US history.

 While there weren’t quite as many numbers in 2018, there were marches in 250 cities across the US—about 40 of them in California—and more than 100 marches in 33 other countries. Many cities saw huge numbers: in Chicago the 300K marchers actually exceeded last year’s total. Los Angeles saw 600K, New York City 200K, and San Francisco, which had 100K last year, had “tens of thousands,” according to the SF Chronicle.

The Handmaids’ Tale featured again this year.

Women dressed in the white bonnets and red cloaks from the dystopian book and movie marched with heads bowed in several places, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, Austin, Texas, and at Mar-a-Lago. 

Three events in Sonoma County.

Sonoma had 2,000 marchers, Sebastopol somewhat less, and Santa Rosa’s rally had 2,000 participants according to the Press Democrat. However,Leslie Graves, who organized that rally in just two weeks, said that based on her experience putting on 27 events in Courthouse Square, the crowd was closer to 5,000.

In putting that event together, Leslie set the time for 10-11:30, so it wouldn’t conflict with the marches in Sonoma or in Sebastopol. Many people went to more than one. Leslie also opted for a rally rather than a march, partly so we wouldn’t have to ask our police, who’d already worked so hard during the fires, for extra duty.

The marches encompassed more issues than just “women’s issues.”

Signs, many of them homemade, mentioned #MeToo, #Times Up, IndigenousWomen—especially the murdered and missing, DACA and immigration, climate change, and respect for science, among others.

Participants had this to say.

Santa Rosan Dawn Keiser, a recent intern at NASA, attended with her father. “I expected some overlap of issues, but there was more awareness of the totality of them. Acknowledging and bringing in all the issues makes a difference. #MeToo is tied to all the other issues: climate, immigration, transperson’s rights—they’re all tied together. There are no isolated issues.”

George Maurer marched in Sonoma for the second year. “This…was far more powerful and diverse than last year.…the many progressive movements represented this year,…coupled with the strength that ‘Me Too’ provided, brought them all together in place.”

 For the second year, my friend Susan Flakus, whom I met in 2014 on the Climate Hike, marched in Oakland before taking BART to march in San Francisco. Susan wrote me, “All of these marches shared something in common:  joyful energy and earnest concerns of a wide array of issues by multi-racial groups of women, men, and children. There were serious and humorous signs on issues such as equal rights, protection of the environment, defense against sexual harassment, and voter suppression.”

We Keep Marching!

We marched in the tens and hundreds of thousands in large cities; we marched in the tens and hundreds and thousands in rural areas and small towns; and we marched in solidarity with millions of people worldwide—a phenomenon repeated again and again, not just in January but throughout the year. According to crowdcounting.org there were 8700 protests in the US in 2017 between the Women’s March and Dec. 31st, involving up to 9 million people.

The next march, on March 5th, from noon-4PM at SRJC, is March/Walk Out/Huelga, a Dreamers’ Action Day.


© Tish Levee, 2018

Photos by Susan Flakus

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