Saturday marks the second anniversary of the day when hundreds of thousands marched for women’s rights across the country, just after President Trump took office. The movement has since branched into various civil rights and social concerns while encountering controversy of its own. Thousands plan to take to the streets once again this weekend.
Women’s marches across the country are being referred to as a “Women’s Wave,” to reflect the many women elected in November’s midterms. The women’s march in Saratoga Springs, New York, is in its first year. Starting at 1 p.m. by the Spirit of Life statue in Congress Park, marchers plan to walk up Broadway to the City Center, and then turn back. Organizer Ellen Egger-Aimone from Saratoga Progressive Action says the reason she’s walking is to encourage more women – 51 percent of the population – to run for office.
“After the Kavanaugh hearing, and seeing all those white men up questioning him and ignoring the issues that came up during the Kavanaugh hearing, it’s really time for women to have 51 percent of the positions,” says Egger-Aimone.
Egger-Aimone was at the first major Women’s March in Washington in 2017. Since then, the Women’s March movement has added a variety of issues to its platform, including LGBTQIA rights, gun control and criminal justice reform. Emma Schoenberg, organizer of the women’s march in Montpelier, Vermont, says the broad platform comes with the territory.
“We’re past the point where we represent single issues," Shoenberg says. "And one of my favorite poets, Audre Lorde, said that we can’t have single issue fights, because we don’t lead single issue lives.”
Saturday’s event in Montpelier is more of a rally. In hopes of staying warm, participants will bypass a procession through the city to instead gather on the State House lawn at 10 a.m. There will be outdoor space heaters to keep attendees warm as they listen to speakers including former Vermont Representative Kiah Morris, who recently resigned from the Legislature after facing racial harassment. Schoenberg says participants should bundle up and come with an open mind.
“Start up conversations with people that you don’t know, listen to our speakers, read other people’s signs…and really stay open to all the possibilities of what could happen after this," says Shoenberg. "Because the whole point of marches like this is that we rally, we come out, we hold our signs, and then we don’t go home, but we continue being engaged deeply in the work that’s happening in our hometowns.”
In the past two years, the women’s march has also run into controversy. National organizer Tamika Mallory has been tied to the Nation of Islam, whose leader Louis Farrakhan has a history of anti-Semitic remarks. Another Women’s March leader, Linda Sarsour, has been criticized for her comments on America’s relationship with Israel.
Castina Charles of the Women’s Empowerment March in Albany says while controversy with the national movement is concerning, people should remember the movement runs at a local level.
“These marches are happening based on local energies and local organizers," Charles says. "How you as a local organizer take on certain issues, how you go about trying to make sure that you’re including the voices of your community is gonna make the difference as to what people feel, like “Do we feel we should participate? Do we feel that we’re included?”
The Albany march departs from Jennings Landing at roughly 11:50 a.m. It is expected to end at West Capital Park, where the Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan and others plan to speak.
“For us, one of the best things about it is that it’s to be an uplifting experience. It’s not just about rage and anger or whatever," says Charles. "It’s about celebrating, being part of a community of like-minded individuals.”
Ultimately, there are as many reasons to march as there are people marching. For many, including Emma Schoenberg, the sense of community that comes from marching is worth the effort.
“These women that have been planning it – there’s 7 of us – love each other so deeply and hold such strong relationships and want to bring that forth and create something for their communities," Shoenberg remarks. "So I march for the other women that I’ve been planning this for.”
Looking for a march near you? Check out these other events:
Glens Falls, New York: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Planned Parenthood (135 Warren St.)
Woodstock, New York: 11 a.m., Playhouse Lane
Utica, New York: 11 a.m., YWCA (310 Rutger St.)
Northampton, Massachusetts: 12 p.m., Sheldon Fields
Hartford, Connecticut: 12 p.m., Bushnell Park