West Hartford residents attended the Women’s March on Washington, and ‘Sister Marches’ in other cities, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
By Ronni Newton
There were an estimated 500,000-plus marching in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. In Hartford, more than 10,000 crowded the State Capitol grounds. Hundreds of West Hartford residents joined these peaceful gatherings of women, men, and children in a show of solidarity and force.
Most participants expressed their reasons for marching on homemade signs held high in the air or carried as banners – a collection with messages as diverse as the marchers themselves. Some were negative, but more professed a belief in the strength and rights of women, minorities, and groups who fear they could become marginalized during Trump’s presidency.
Held the day following Inauguration Day, the mission of the Women’s March according to its website was: “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
Messages of empowerment were paramount. Many signs quoted the words of Angela Davis, a civil rights activist and professor at UC Santa Cruz who was one of the march organizers who turned around the well known Serenity Prayer: “We must change the things we cannot accept.”
Clare Kindall of West Hartford, a former member of both the Town Council and Board of Education, traveled by bus from Trinity College to march in Washington, D.C. She chronicled the journey with words and photos that she shared on Facebook.
“These buses are filled with mothers, daughters, sisters. They are filled with teachers, doctors, lawyers, students and all sorts of life. We reflect the ethnic diversity of this great country – all wearing silly pink hats. The energy is determined and joyful. It is like we are driving to a great celebration of womanhood – it is already a warm and wonderful experience,” Kindall wrote from the bus en route to Washington.
“WOW! It has been an amazing day – positive entirely – crude occasionally but I am proud to be an American – from babies to Grandmas – dozens of people in wheelchairs and walkers and tons of young folks – amazing, peaceful, powerful,” she wrote late Saturday afternoon before heading back to her bus at RFK Stadium to begin the journey back to Connecticut.
There were at least eight buses that departed from the area for Washington, according to Sarah Raskin, a West Hartford resident and Trinity College professor who was one of the organizers of the local contingent and served as bus captain. “West Hartford probably had more riders than any other town in Connecticut,” she said.
The buses departed at approximately 2 a.m. Saturday from Trinity College, UConn West Hartford, and the parking lot at Target, and most returned by about 3 a.m. Sunday.
“Incredible energy here … D.C. personnel well prepared and so welcoming!” West Hartford Town Clerk Essie Labrot posted on her Facebook page from Washington. She said the March was one of the most meaningful events she had ever participated in.
Sharon Brewer of West Hartford drove to Washington, D.C. with her husband, Matt. She said the entire event was very peaceful, beautiful, and affirming.
The sheer number, and diversity of the crowd was amazing, Brewer said. “The rally filled the whole march route. Entirely.”
“This is one of the most empowering things I have ever done,” said Brewer.
“It was a privilege and a pleasure to join hundreds of thousands of women in our nation’s capitol to put the government on notice, to join together with like minded, kind, funny, smart and dedicated women and the men who love and respect them,” Judi Houpert, a teacher who lives in West Hartford, shared on her Facebook page.
Houpert and many of her neighbors from the Morley Elementary School area traveled to Washington by bus on Saturday. Her son Matt, who attends Georgetown University, joined her to march.
Not everyone went to Washington, but there were still ways to participate in the Women’s March.
“Sister Marches” were held in more than 600 cities around the world, including Hartford. More than 10,000 attended the event in Hartford Saturday, Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said. The rally was peaceful and there were no arrests.
The atmosphere in Hartford was similar to that in Washington, and those who experienced it also felt empowered.
“It was energizing to be around so many people looking to support each other and stand up for women and human rights,” said State Sen. Beth Bye of West Hartford, who spoke at the Hartford March.
Bye said that in her speech she said she was so grateful to Hillary Clinton for running for president.
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor also spoke at the Hartford March. Cantor spoke of the Morley Red Wagon food drive, held the morning after Election Day, and how the kindness and generosity it exemplified were juxtaposed with the feelings she and many others had about Trump’s election. “Women heal,” Cantor told the crowd.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, to be “Women’s March on Washington Day in the State of Connecticut in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of people from across the country who will be traveling to the nation’s capital to participate in a peaceful demonstration in support of the protection of the rights, safety, and health of people and families across the country.” He read the proclamation, reproduced below, during Saturday’s March.
West Hartford’s impact extended to other cities as well, with residents traveling to New York, Boston, and elsewhere.
“I made over 75 copies of my ‘pussy sign’ [see photo below],” said West Hartford artist Stefanie Marco Lantz. “They went to marches in D.C., New York City, and Hartford. I loved all the signs but this made it perfect for people that didn’t have time. The sign will be going to the Connecticut Historical Society and the new NYC poster museum! Pretty cool to be captured with the historic nature of the day!”
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