Local action coincides with national women’s march in Washington D.C.
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Hundreds of St. Louisans will take to the streets Saturday, Jan. 21 as part of a march and rally organized by a group of local women to show unity in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups.
The Women’s March on St. Louis, which coincides with the national event Women’s March on Washington in Washington D.C., will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in downtown St. Louis. The march will begin at Union Station, proceed down Market Street and end at Luther Ely Smith Park with a rally.
When Valerie Brinkman, a married mother of four and a technical specialist at the Affton School District, first heard of the national march, she was determined to go. But her responsibilities as a busy mom and full-time employee wouldn’t allow for the trip.
Brinkman learned similar marches were planned in Kansas City and Chicago, so she set out to see if there were any planned in the St. Louis area. She reached out to as many people as she could. While she wasn’t able to find a local march, she received a lot of positive feedback on the creation of a St. Louis event.
“I, like many others, was very disappointed with the (presidential) results of the election and was fearful of what’s to come for our marginalized groups,” Brinkman said. “After learning there were no local marches planned, a group of about five of us who met on a local Pantsuit Nation Facebook page decided to change that.”
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The idea for the Women’s March on Washington, which takes place the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, originated shortly after the general election by a diverse group of women who were unhappy with Trump’s win and trying to figure out how move forward while facing national and international concern and fear.
Those feelings were sparked by the campaign rhetoric of the election cycle in which Trump took aim at women, immigrants, the African-American and Latino communities, those with diverse religious faiths, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault.
The concept for the march started from a single post on Facebook and quickly grew into a mobilized, nationwide effort. In just under a month, the group formed a national committee, named officers and developed a website and related social media pages. To date, more than 136,000 have pledged online to attend the national event.
“Our communities are hurting and scared,” the group’s website states. “The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Like the national event, the local march unfolded in the same manner. The group is now compromised of about 20 organizers and has created a Facebook event page, which can be found by visiting this link. So far, more than 1,200 have confirmed they will attend.
“It’s definitely catching on,” Brinkman said. “I’ve been getting about 75 emails a day about the event from people just looking for more information to those interested in speaking or sponsorship opportunities.”
Brinkman said the group is currently working on confirming speakers for the rally, which will include Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City), who will address the subject of women in politics, and representatives from the Black Lives Matter Movement, the LGBT and Muslim communities, Planned Parenthood and several other groups.
“Personally, I believe there is strength in numbers, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure our voices are heard,” Brinkman said. “By surrounding each other in unity, we can begin the healing process.”
Anyone who supports women’s rights is welcome to attend the free event. For more information, email Brinkman at email@example.com.