By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The day after the Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, millions of women and supporters from around the world gathered for the “Women’s March” to peacefully proclaim that “women’s rights are human rights” and to unify and empower everyone who stands for civil liberties, and social justice for all.
The Women’s March on Washington is estimated to be the biggest one-day protest in US history according to Political Science Professor Jeremy Pressman (University of Connecticut) and Professor and Associate Dean for Research Erica Chenoweth (University of Denver), who monitored events held worldwide.
In Oklahoma City, the Women’s March on Oklahoma was estimated to have drawn at least 8,000, and as many as 12,000 demonstrators. As in most cities across the country, the turnout far exceeded expectations.
“After a day that was sorrowful for many of us, we came together as one,” said Oklahoma City attorney and event lead organizer Lindsey Kanaly following the event. “Let us use today’s motivation as a catalyst for the future. We will resist, we will protect, we stand in solidarity, and we will not be silenced.”
Although organizers stated the event was not a protest, dissatisfaction with newly elected President Trump’s agenda has clearly alarmed many demonstrators.
“I went to the Women’s March in Oklahoma City to support values and ideals which I fear are under attack, and to stand with other women and men who feel as I do,” said longtime Oklahoma City activist Margaret Cox. “My heart is broken by what I see going on in the United States these days. It seems we are turning our back on our dearest most primary values, and I felt that going to the Women’s March was a way to take a stand.”
There were over 600 Sister Marches held in all 50 states and in 32 countries around the world. Estimates place the national turnout at over 3 million.
Interest groups including Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Doctors for America and NAACP participated in the events nationwide.
The march was the accidental brainchild of 60-year old retired attorney Teresa Shook in Hawaii.
Immediately after the election Shook created a Facebook event page announcing a march in D.C. which resulted in a flood of followers with concerns about threats to women’s rights, women’s choice, affordable health care and equal pay.
National organizers said the Women’s March sent “a bold message around the world and to our new administration on their first day in office, that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
D.C. headliners included Angela Davis, Michael Moore, Gloria Steinem, Van Jones, Cecile Richards, Scarlett Johansson, and a surprise mini concert by Madonna.
Steinem, a longtime feminist icon said, “Trump has found a fox for every chicken coop in Washington and we must not let his Twitter finger become a trigger finger.”
Oklahoma City featured speakers included National Director of Ms. Abilities America Elizabeth Reeve, Regional Director of Public Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes Tamya Cox, Registered Nurse Devyn Denton, marriage equality lawsuit plaintiff Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, author and transgender rights activist Paula Sophia Schonauer, State Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) and Co-Founder of OKC Artists for Justice Dr. Grace Franklin.
Poems were shared by Candice Liger and Cheryl Craig White.
“Collectively, there are many, many more of us than there are of them,” said Bishop-Baldwin of Broken Arrow during the event. “And the way we keep ourselves safe is by keeping each other safe. So, my vow to you this day is that I will not be silent. I will fight injustice whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. And I hope you will join me. Because it will take all of us to protect each of us.”
Additional speakers were University of Tulsa College of Law Professor Tamara Piety, LGBTQ rights advocate and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Kendra Wilson-Clements, University of Oklahoma Director of Diversity Enrichment Programs Jessica Martinez-Brooks, and CAIR Oklahoma Government Affairs Director Anna Facci.
Adrienne Gautier, chair of Sierra Club Red Earth Group in Norman stated, “The Sierra Club marched to show our support for basic human rights for all, which include clean water, clean air, and access to public lands. We also support gender equity, which was a unifying theme of this march.”
Oklahoma City resident Ivan Hutchcroft said, “I went because it was a great first step. It sent a message that said we are here, we are watching. Even if the President has conveniently forgotten what he has said and done, we haven’t. We must continue to watch and to send our message when he misspeaks and abuses any of us with his actions.”
A diverse crowd of marchers included families pushing strollers, individuals with their dogs, fathers with their daughters, couples and local organizations. The sea of signs displayed messages such as: Bridges not Walls, Love Trumps Hate, Respect Existence or Expect Resistance, My Body My Choice, The Future Is Female, and You Can’t Comb Over Misogyny.
Oklahoma City art educator Gail Sloop said, ‘My thirteen year old daughter and I participated in the Women’s March at the Oklahoma Capitol so that we could find hope – hope in numbers, attitudes and a positive direction for all women. We felt the hope there. I will continue on with actions to protect our nation’s liberty and justice for all.”
“I’m marching for a better America,”Tulsa resident Carol Wimmer posted on Facebook. “For me, it’s a simple as that. I’m marching for my grandchildren’s future … a future time when racism, bias, glass ceilings, bigotry, hatred, and discrimination in all forms will have disappeared.”
The American Association of University Women Edmond branch had a table providing bottled water and snacks. AAUW president Jo Ann Bullard said, “We were so thrilled to participate and offer something to the marchers.”
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes Oklahoma organizer Aaron Wilder said, “Together, we sent a strong message to lawmakers that we reject hatred and bigotry and we demand the fullest access to expert, compassionate sexual and reproductive health care including safe, legal abortion.”
National Women’s March leaders have already launched a new campaign called “10 Actions for the first 100 Days.” The first action asks everyone to send a postcard to their Senators about what matters most to them – and how they’re going to continue to fight for it. To get involved, visit www.womensmarch.com/100.
Activists on social media are already discussing a possible next big rally on Saturday April 15 to pressure the president into releasing his tax returns.