By Monique Jones
The Birmingham Times
Thousands of protesters from across Alabama marched from Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park through downtown in solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington Saturday.
Like the Washington march and sister marches across the U.S. and others around the world, Birmingham’s march was directed at the campaign rhetoric and other statements on women and minorities from President Donald Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday.
“I’m scared of the direction the country has taken,” said Cindy, who only gave her first name, a grandmother from Huntsville, Ala. “I think civil rights is going to take a step backwards. I’m very concerned about women’s rights, civil rights, immigration rights. I’m afraid for my friends and loved ones in the LGBT community. I think the cabinet members [Trump] has appointed are all cronies. I think he’s trying to turn this into a third-world country. It’s a big deal, we’re all scared.”
Cindy said she had relatives who participated in marches in Albany, NY and Nashville, Tenn.
“…[W]e need to all draw together to make sure this never happens again . . .,” she said. “Republican Congress, you need to watch your backs because we’re coming; we’re not going to be quiet. We’re not going to stand for it.”
Corey Craft, an English and film studies teacher at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, said he came to the march to stand “in solidarity with women, minorities, and oppressed people who may find themselves in danger or threatened by the new presidential administration.”
“I’m worried on behalf of the country,” he said. “…[T]his is really the only way that I can show that, start the long road ahead…to defend all the progress that we’ve made in the last couple of decades, [which] seems in danger of going away now,” he said. “We’re not going to take it sitting down. We’re going to push back, whatever it is they throw at us. So much of the proposed changes … seem downright harmful and damaging to so many around the country. It’s a good message to show them that we’re not going to take it. We’re going to stand up and stay angry.”
Crocheted pink hats, complete with cat ears, were worn by many of the march’s participants. The “pussyhats” reflected Trump’s past comments about women.
“[W]e as women…need to be proud of ourselves and our sexuality and not allow somebody to behave that way, either verbally or physically against us,” said Amy Shadoin, a member of the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates. “That’s just simply unacceptable. This is a protest against that kind of objectification of women.”
Arnita C., who, like Shadoin, is a member of the Madison County Democrats and Madison County Democratic Women in Huntsville, Ala., said the hats help others stand in solidarity with women who have suffered sexual harassment and assault.
“…I do know of women who have suffered those kinds of indiscretions,” she said. “I think we all need to stand up and stand out against any kind of sexual aggression against women, children [and] men.”
Mobilizing for 2018 and beyond
To march is one thing, but to plan for action is another, said Jerome Dees, former president of the Birmingham Young Democrats, who worked to register people to vote during the march.
“The turnout has been absolutely incredible. It’s been far more than anything we could have genuinely hoped for and expected,” said Dees. “But more than just seeing the number of people that are present here, we’re hoping to turn that into a mobilization effort moving forward.”
Being active in democracy is not just a one-day event, he said. “It’s not just something that happens on a Tuesday in November. It’s something that…goes on throughout the entire year. That’s how our democracy works and becomes more fair,” Dees said.
To stay up-to-date on future political events, visit The Women’s March on Washington—Alabama Chapter’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchal