Making waves for women

People across Va. marched for the ERA on Jan. 19 in the third Women’s March

The crowd was a sea of pink hats, pride flags and multicolored signs bearing messages of defiance, hope and feminism. Little girls in puffy coats were holding their mothers’ hands and being hoisted up on their shoulders, as if they were giving them a better chance to look out into the future. On Saturday, Jan. 19th, protesters of all genders, races, ages, abilities and sexual orientations and identities mobilized and took to the streets in cities across the United States for the third annual Women’s March.

The national march was held in Washington, D.C. with sister marches occurring all around the country. The overall theme for the movement this year was #WomensWave, an effort to “flood the streets of Washington, D.C. and cities across the globe… and [sweep] the world forward with us” according to the official national website of the Women’s March. Several demonstrations took place in Virginia, including the cities of Norfolk and Roanoke.

The Women’s March in Norfolk, also known as The Girls Take Granby, was also held on Jan. 19. Hundreds of participants marched up Granby Street, which runs through the heart of downtown Norfolk.

The main goal of this march was to push for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which will give equal rights to all US citizens regardless of their sex. There are currently 37 states who have ratified the amendment and 38 are needed. Marchers chanted, “Make VA state 38.”

Shanice Williams, the organizer of The Girls Take Granby for this year, led the marchers with a megaphone, leading them in chants such as “We want equality, we want peace, that’s why we take Granby Street” as they marched a loop through downtown Norfolk. The front of her shirt read “A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution” and the back of her black jacket read “EQUAL POWER.”

Williams led and emceed   the rally before the march, which included several speakers such as Claire Gastañaga of the ACLU of Virginia and Delegates Kelly Fowler and Jay Jones. 

“We’re not out here doing this because we’re looking for something to do,” said Kati Hornung, the campaign coordinator of VA Ratify ERA who spoke at the rally. “I don’t want my life experience to be the experience of my daughters.”

Title IX was also addressed during the rally. Speakers conveyed the importance of bringing awareness to the reportage of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses across America. Individuals who were assaulted read short statements to the crowd using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport on Twitter. Their stories revealed reasons why they did not report their sexual assault or abuse. Their candor shed a light on the harsh realities of how these issues are often dealt with, or not dealt with at all.

Williams also spoke of the importance of the believeH.E.R.S. Initiative, which encourages and empowers all survivors of sexual assault and abuse to come forward with their stories. “H.E.R.S.” does not imply that this is strictly a women’s issue; the acronym instead stands for Helping Everyone Report Sexual assault.

“Hearing these stories gives power to survivors, and that’s what we want to do here in Hampton Roads,” Williams said. “We want to create a safe space for survivors. We want to create a safe space to let people know that here in Hampton Roads, we do not judge you. We want to keep you safe. We want to protect you and we want to hear your stories.”

In response to the alleged anti-Semitic statements and the controversy surrounding Women’s March Inc. and the organizers of the D.C. march, Williams stated, “Yes, our local march is listed on the national website… but as far as our values, what we stand for and what we are marching for, it’s almost completely different from what’s going on in the national march.” 

The Girls Take Granby march was an environment of equality for all.

Williams said, “Our local march is also a reflection of the national climate, but more so a reflection of who we are here in Hampton Roads as a community and as a people… When I say it’s a Women’s March, I don’t necessarily mean that it’s limited to just women. It’s inviting anyone who can relate to the struggle that women go through, anyone who can relate to the oppression that being a woman comes with.” She spoke of the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality in all aspects of the march, assuring all members of the crowd that they were welcome there. Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill of Virginia Beach was present and spoke at the rally about the strength of Jewish women.

“The message wasn’t about hate; it was about frustration and ultimately peace,” CNU junior Blakely Lockhart, who attended The Girls Take Granby event, said. “The march was about respecting one another and standing up for those who don’t have a voice or whose voices aren’t heard.”

Lockhart commented on the wide range of people who attended, ranging from little kids and babies to elderly women with walkers to dogs. Although women’s rights and gender equality were originally the main focuses of the Women’s March, demonstrators marched for many other causes as well. Members of the LGBTQ+ community draped themselves in rainbow pride flags, a representative of the Sierra Club held up a sign reading “Sierra Club for Gender Equality” and a mother marched with her children as their little hands helped her hold a banner that read Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Lockhart also mentioned how people in restaurants or in cars stopped to take videos, some even joining in because they were so excited. One of her favorite memories of the event was when someone pulled out a speaker and played “Roar” by Katy Perry.

“The whole street, which was just filled with random strangers, started singing along and dancing,” Lockhart said. “That will be a moment of hope and joy that I won’t ever forget.”

But Norfolk was the only Virginian city marching. At the same time, individuals from Roanoke gathered for a sister march in Elmwood Park. Although, a sister march the cause they marched under differed from the one held in Norfolk. The main banner of the march read “Rally in Roanoke for Results in Richmond.” 

The 2019 Women’s March on Roanoke sought to build upon the success of past marches. The march offered events in hopes of educating and empowering citizens to use promote equality and justice by using their voices to create change in Richmond.

The Roanoke Women’s March also placed a particular emphasis on ratifying the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) in Virginia.

“Being that I’m not from Roanoke, I was interested in seeing the different local speakers and how the main issues they spoke about reflected what was going on in the community, like the pipeline and great female representation in local government,” Erica Gudiño, a freshman at Roanoke College, said.

In addition to the keynote speaker Leah Greenberg, who is the co-founder and co-Executive Director of the Indivisible Project, the Roanoke Women’s March offered numerous panels for attendees, ranging from the topic of healthcare to gun violence to immigration.

“I got a great sense of the unity and support within Roanoke and the surrounding towns,” Gudiño said. “My favorite part was how dedicated and passionate everyone was about making even more change in 2019 and the shared need for to dissent.” 

According to personal anecdotes and reports approximately 1,000 people attended the march in Roanoke.

Whether in Washington D.C., Norfolk or Roanoke, individuals of all genders and ages came together this Saturday for the common cause of bringing women up. 

The Girls Take Granby march was an environment of equality for all.

Williams said, “Our local march is also a reflection of the national climate, but more so a reflection of who we are here in Hampton Roads as a community and as a people… When I say it’s a Women’s March, I don’t necessarily mean that it’s limited to just women. It’s inviting anyone who can relate to the struggle that women go through, anyone who can relate to the oppression that being a woman comes with.” She spoke of the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality in all aspects of the march, assuring all members of the crowd that they were welcome there. Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill of Virginia Beach was present and spoke at the rally about the strength of Jewish women.

“The message wasn’t about hate; it was about frustration and ultimately peace,” CNU junior Blakely Lockhart, who attended The Girls Take Granby event, said. “The march was about respecting one another and standing up for those who don’t have a voice or whose voices aren’t heard.”

Lockhart commented on the wide range of people who attended, ranging from little kids and babies to elderly women with walkers to dogs. Although women’s rights and gender equality were originally the main focuses of the Women’s March, demonstrators marched for many other causes as well. Members of the LGBTQ+ community draped themselves in rainbow pride flags, a representative of the Sierra Club held up a sign reading “Sierra Club for Gender Equality” and a mother marched with her children as their little hands helped her hold a banner that read Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Lockhart also mentioned how people in restaurants or in cars stopped to take videos, some even joining in because they were so excited. One of her favorite memories of the event was when someone pulled out a speaker and played “Roar” by Katy Perry.

“The whole street, which was just filled with random strangers, started singing along and dancing,” Lockhart said. “That will be a moment of hope and joy that I won’t ever forget.”

But Norfolk wasn’t the only Virginian city marching. At the same time, individuals from Roanoke gathered for a sister march in Elmwood Park. Although a sister march, the cause they marched under differed from the one held in Norfolk. The main banner of the march read “Rally in Roanoke for Results in Richmond.” 

The 2019 Women’s March on Roanoke sought to build upon the success of past marches. The march offered events in hopes of educating and empowering citizens to use promote equality and justice by using their voices to create change in Richmond.

The Roanoke Women’s March also placed a particular emphasis on ratifying the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) in Virginia.

“Being that I’m not from Roanoke, I was interested in seeing the different local speakers and how the main issues they spoke about reflected what was going on in the, like the pipeline and great female representation in local government,” Erica Gudiño, a freshman at Roanoke College, said.

In addition to the keynote speaker Leah Greenberg, who is the co-founder and co-Executive Director of the Indivisible Project, the Roanoke Women’s March offered numerous panels for attendees, ranging from the topic of healthcare to gun violence to immigration.

“I got a great sense of the unity and support within Roanoke and the surrounding towns,” Gudiño said. “My favorite part was how dedicated and passionate everyone was about making even more change in 2019 and the shared need for to dissent.” 

According to personal anecdotes and reports approximately 1,000 people attended the march in Roanoke.

Whether in Washington D.C., Norfolk or Roanoke, individuals of all genders and ages came together this Saturday for the common cause of bringing women up.

~Emma Dixon, News Editor~

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~

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