Voices Of Women's Marchers Across The Country

Jan 22, 2017
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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Protesters filled the streets in cities around the country and the world on President Donald Trump's first full day in office. Some demonstrators who traveled to the Women's March on Washington are now heading home, and many participants are wondering what's next. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Their voices echoed across the U.S., from New York City...

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) We go high when they go low.

WANG: ...To Park City, Utah...

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Love, not hate, makes America great. Love, not hate...

WANG: ...And Sioux Falls, S.D.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Native lives matter. Native lives matter.

WANG: For some, the Women's Marches were their first steps into activism, including Felipe Ortiz who attended a rally in Wichita, Kan.

FELIPE ORTIZ: I'm 82 years old, and I'm going for my first long walk for all the women. I won't be here forever, but I'm helping.

WANG: In New York, city officials estimate that more than 400,000 protesters came out for Saturday's march. Amy Mitchell was in the crowd and said she and others were standing up against President Donald Trump.

AMY MITCHELL: I think he's bringing people together in a way that he may not have expected. And if we can all come together, maybe it will only be one term - hopefully.

WANG: Anti-Trump messages also dominated the Women's March in Washington, D.C., which drew some of the biggest names of the feminist movement, including Gloria Steinem.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GLORIA STEINEM: We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections.

WANG: In D.C., the crowd appeared to be mostly white. Some critics of the Women's March say the organizers failed to fully connect with women of color, even after diversifying the leadership team and broadening policy demands.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROSLYN BROCK: The silence in America has been deafening for black women and our families, who also feel forgotten and blocked out of a prosperous society.

WANG: Roslyn Brock is the chair of the National Board of Directors at the NAACP. Her speech to the D.C. crowd touched on the history of women of color often being left behind by the women's suffrage movement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BROCK: And so I call upon you, my sisters, in the words of my ancestral she-ro (ph) Sojourner Truth - ain't I a woman?

(CHEERING)

WANG: The marches did bring out many families. Thirty-one-year-old Kristina Apgar of Brooklyn, N.Y., came to Washington with her mother and younger sister.

KRISTINA APGAR: I would be here no matter what by myself. But the fact that my mom and my sister are here - it means so much more that we're all now proudly feminists.

WANG: Apgar's mother, Ruth, said her main concern is Republican lawmakers cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.

RUTH APGAR: That's where we went for the medical advice and, quite frankly, birth control. I mean, I came from a middle-class area, but my parents wouldn't talk about that sort of thing. And women today are still using it. And for them to cut the funding, that's outrageous.

WANG: The marches can be an effective way to start a broader campaign, according to Nandini Deo, who studies social movements at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

NANDINI DEO: It helps all of us, you know, connect with each other, realize there's a lot of us out there. It helps us become more firm in our identity as activists.

WANG: Deo took a bus herself from Philadelphia to D.C. with her husband and two sons, plus some friends and neighbors. But she says what really matters is what protesters decide to do after the marches.

DEO: People's energies can get channeled in lots of different directions. So how do you keep everyone together?

WANG: Deo says she plans to get more involved with congressional elections to support progressive candidates. It's a localized strategy that many marchers say they're ready to take on.

Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.