After a contentious election cycle, which saw a man with a history of verbally and physically attacking women become our president-elect, women came together to organize a march on our nation's capital to stand united and strong for the rights of women, their allies, and marginalized communities across the country. Since November, thousands of sister marches were organized world-wide to show solidarity with those marching on Washington and to lift up this message in their own communities. What started as a March on Washington D.C grew into the biggest global day of action in history with 673 Sister Marches and 4,876,700 marchers worldwide.
This past Saturday, we made history right here in Vermont. While sister marches across the world surpassed all expectations, it was amazing to see 20,000 people - 1 in every 31 Vermonters - in the streets (or stuck on the highway), embracing each other, laughing, crying, chanting, and singing. The energy in the air was truly electric.
The Women’s March on Montpelier started as a Facebook page. When a group of women met to begin organizing a Unity Rally for January 21st at the Statehouse, they discovered the page and joined forces with the march organizers. A dedicated group of dozens of individuals emerged ranging from seasoned activists to first-time organizers working to bring Vermonters of all backgrounds together for parity, equity, dignity, and justice for all women. The number of RSVP’s steadily grew by the thousands in the days leading up to the march. In the end it was not only the biggest rally Montpelier had ever seen, but it was perhaps proportionally the largest rally in the country. Having 20,000 people jam into a city with the population of 7,800 is like having a rally of over 10 million people in a city like Boston or L.A.
We are not only blown away by the historic turnout that shut down three exits on the highway. The energy the entire day and sense of solidarity was tangible.
Our amazing line up of speakers addressed our nation's many intersecting issues, ranging from women's reproductive rights, to LGBTQ rights, racial justice, the rights of migrant workers, the Muslim community, indigenous sovereignty, education, healthcare, workers' rights, and much more.
Thank you to all of our speakers and performers for a powerful celebration of work being done and energizing us for the fight ahead: Muslim Girls Making Change; Meagan Gallagher, President of Vermont Planned Parenthood Action Fund; Representative Kiah Morris, Bennington; Linda Quinlan, Rainbow Umbrella Central VT; Madeleine Kunin, former Governor of Vermont; Ebony Nyoni, Founder and Director of Black Lives Matter VT; Mary Gerisch, former Human Rights lawyer, water & Indigenous People’s Rights Advocate; Wilmar Santiz, Migrant Justice; Lt. Governor David Zuckerman; Poem by Greta Hardy-Mittell, “Don’t Tell Me I Can't Cry"; Rebecca Eun Mi Haslam, 2015 Vermont Teacher of Year; Sue Minter, former Vermont Gubernatorial Candidate; and Senator Bernie Sanders, our surprise guest. Dwight & Nicole, thank you for the music.
While we must reject the rhetoric of the president elect and resist the disastrous policies of the new administration, we recognize that the new president-elect is not the cause - he is a symptom. Marginalization of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, indigenous people, migrant farm workers, and the working class did not begin with the election, but has added a strong sense of urgency for folks in our communities that will be under increased threat.
We will be tested in the weeks and months to come. The fight for equality will depend on our commitment to stand by each other, and our commitment to motivate and inspire one another to stand up each and every day. Rights & Democracy would be honored if you would join us in continuing to keep this momentum going. If you have ideas on how build in your own community, want to talk or meet with one our organizers, attend another amazing event, or create a local organizing team, please reach out to us. You can also stay connected by simply liking our facebook page, signing a petition on our website, or making a donation to help us cover the costs of organizing this historic day.
The silver lining of the political mess our country is in right now is that it has brought us together in ways we’ve never been before. Increasingly people are realizing that our struggles are interconnected and our movement must be indivisible. Rights & Democracy is committed to working with all of the groups and individuals who built this historic event to work together in coalition to tackle the challenges ahead.
What happens next is up to all of us. We hope you will join us.