A display of democracy: Women’s March participants share stories

January 2017 Posted in Community
Silverton resident Ann Altman and her sister, Eileen, attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

Silverton resident Ann Altman and her sister, Eileen, attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

By Kristine Thomas

Christine Chorazy joined the Women’s March in Portland to show her daughters and son that sometimes it is necessary to “go outside your comfort zone to stand up, and try and change something you cannot tolerate.”

Ann Altman traveled to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. to vocalize with others to the new president and his administration that an atmosphere of fear and hatred is not acceptable.

Randi Embree marched in Salem with a friend, and ran into several other friends along the way. She marched because she has a 1-year-old granddaughter. “The words I’ve heard the new president speak and his actions make me afraid for her future,” Embree said. “I grabbed a pink hat and marched because it was the joyful, patriotic thing to do.”On Saturday, Jan. 21, the three Silverton women joined with an estimated 3 million people who marched in 500 U.S. cities and more than 100 cities worldwide. The participants marched to oppose or voice concerns about President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Laura Majuri marched in Portland with her 33-year-old daughter. She has friends from Silverton who marched in Washington D.C., Honolulu, Atlanta, Seattle, Tucson, Salem and San Pacho, Mexico.

“To know that we were all part of this historical moment at the same time in different cities was a truly exhilarating feeling of solidarity,” Majuri said. People marched, she said, because they feel an urgency to protect and preserve the accomplishments made in human and equal rights.

“We don’t think that turning the clocks back will ‘Make America Great Again.’ This is why I marched,” she said.

Although the weather was rainy and cold in Portland, it didn’t dampen the spirits of several participants who shared they were inspired by the colorful signs, the pink hats, the kindness of fellow marchers and the songs.

Altman said the most emotional time for her was walking on the street heading to the National Mall where she joined thousands of people of “all descriptions.” “It made me both happy and sad,” Altman said of seeing all the participants. “Happy to be among a group of passionate people willing to put themselves out there for their views and sad that this country has gotten to such a place where so many felt that was necessary.” Altman said the march was mostly billed as a stand for women’s rights, but she was there for more than that. Her sign read “Prove us wrong: show respect, tell the truth, lead by example.”

“People across the board have been insulted, women particularly, I guess, but certainly immigrants and Muslims also, threatened and lied to,” Altman said. “I think that the marches here, across the country and all over the world made a strong statement that the atmosphere of fear and hatred is not acceptable.”

Dave Duncan of Mount Angel had planned to march until he got bronchitis. He wanted to participate to protect the future of his three young granddaughters.

“It has been exciting and enlightening to watch these young ones grow physically and mentally,” Duncan said. “Hopefully, they will become adults in a society of equal rights, equal protection, equal pay, freedom of speech and freedom of choice. They are very bright kids, kids that could really contribute. So I will be taking steps to secure a just society where they can achieve their full potential.”

Chorazy marched with her husband to show together they have strength to defend what they believe. She marched for people whose ethnicity is different than hers to let them know she stands with them and wants them to enjoy a good life for their families. She marched for the environment and because she is concerned the current president is “bent on destroying pieces of it.”

Marching is one of the many rights Chorazy has and respects as an American, including to “use my voice to demonstrate against a president that doesn’t represent me. I march with hope, that together, as like minded people, the movement will only continue to build momentum.”

Aylene Geringer said she was enthralled with the diversity of the crowd, their imaginative signs, their civility and “their conviction to be heard and to express their fear of what may happen if people remain silent.”

Silverton resident Frances McCarty, 63, crammed into a car with five other women to spend hours in the cold and rain in downtown Portland. She and her friends are concerned about the direction the country is moving.

“It is not about Democrat versus Republican or whining about losing the election,” McCarty said. “It goes to the question about what we value in our country. I value children, protecting the disabled and elderly, our government providing for our health and safety, all the things that are part of a civilized society.”

What brought many of the participants joy and hope was how despite the large crowd size – an estimated 100,000 people in Portland – each march was peaceful.

Sharing the participants in Portland’s march were jubilant to be able to express their concerns, McCarty said a functional democracy has opposing views that debate issues and develop different ideas and policies.

“However, they start by agreeing on information, data and facts,” she said. “If facts themselves are disputed because they are somehow viewed as liberal or biased, that concerns me.”

Jennifer Hill of Mount Angel attended the march with her 10-year-old daughter, Sailor. “I went to show my daughter that silence is not an option. That respect is a human right and peaceful marching together gives us unity and a platform to make change happen,” Hill said.

“Our democracy allows us to stand up for what we feel is important. The basic belief that equality is a right for all citizens despite race, religion, or gender association is not a presidential protest but a fight for fellow citizens,” Hill added. “What an amazing, unforgettable experience for us both.”

Elyse McGowan-Kidd said she felt it was a privilege to march and was thankful to be surrounded by like minded people. Before she even started the march in Salem, she was crying and did so on and off the entire walk. “We cannot gloss over the fact that we had optimal conditions. We were allowed to march peacefully. Without the police in our faces or showing any sort of aggression. Nobody was shouting, nobody was shooting and nobody was arrested,” she said. “But the preparation for the march and the continued civil awareness is the real key to what the march means to me. I have learned more, heard more, been corrected more and checked my privilege more than I ever have. I hope it continues.”

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