Women’s March in Steamboat unites families, minorities
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Steamboat’s third annual Women’s March on Saturday brought generations of women together to champion equality and female empowerment.
This year’s march honored the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. It is one of many such marches across the country that began in 2017 following Donald Trump’s election amid growing concerns regarding discrimination of women and minority groups.
About 100 people joined the Steamboat march, which began at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and followed Lincoln Avenue to the front steps of the historic Routt County Courthouse. Many of the marchers knew one another by name and stopped to share hugs. Some raised homemade signs with political themes like “Resist Trump” and “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Catherine Carson, one of the march’s main organizers who also chairs the Routt County Democrats, noticed that more women participated as a family this year.
“It’s so exciting to see generations of women here, from daughters to mothers to grandmothers,” she said.
Among those family activists were Lois White and her daughter Simone, who have attended every Women’s March in Steamboat together.
“We motivate each other to come out each year,” Lois White said. “I think that’s what all these women are doing.”
Simone, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, considers it a duty to act as a leader among her peers and in her community. She has been involved with the high school’s student council and wants to join other activist groups in the future.
“We have to speak up for what is right,” she said. “We can’t wait for someone else to do it for us.”
Millie Beall initiated chants through a megaphone as she marched. The chants ranged from the motivational, “This is what democracy looks like,” to the comical, “Trump skis in jeans.”
Beall’s daughter-in-law Helen Beall was one of the main organizers for Steamboat’s first Women’s March in 2017. Helen could not attend this year’s event, but she helped plan it.
Marchers gathered around the front lawn of the courthouse to listen to songs and speeches from women in the community. Some organizers had tramped down the piles of snow that accumulated over the week so people could stand on them.
Talaya Thomas, a longtime Steamboat resident, stood in front of the crowd and recited an excerpt of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.
“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside-down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again,” Thomas quoted.
Sojourner Truth, a black abolitionist, gave the speech during the Ohio Women’s Convention on May 29, 1851. In it, she champions civil rights as well as women’s rights and calls for greater inclusion of minorities, specifically black people, in the conversation about equality.
The intersections between women’s rights and rights for other minority groups have been a particular focus for this year’s marches nationwide. The march in Denver, for example, operated under the name, “Womxn’s March.”
The “x” denoted support for transgender, non-binary and gender-queer persons who also wanted their voices to be heard.
This comes after several of the leaders of Women’s March Inc., an organization that sprouted from the original march, faced calls this year to step down. The leaders allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks in planning meetings.
Controversy over their comments led to the cancellation of at least one march in New Orleans. Some progressive groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, also abandoned their partnerships with the Women’s March, according to a report from the Jewish News Syndicate.
“It put a damper on some people’s enthusiasm,” said Hope Cook, an organizer for the Steamboat march. “But not in this town.”
Thomas alluded in her speech to the fact that the fight for equality, whether for women or Jews, for people of color or those from the LGBTQ community, is an ongoing effort.
“The work is never done,” Thomas said, scanning her eyes across the crowd of marchers. “I will march and you will march and the whole world will march until we see change.”
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