On the fourth anniversary of the first Women's Marches to protest the election of Donald Trump, Indivisible Evanston leaders and activists marched through the streets of downtown Chicago, braving rain and near-freezing temperatures to participate in the third Women's March Chicago as an ongoing protest against the Trump and GOP adminstration's assault on not only women's rights but every aspect of human rights across the spectrum. As a coalition partner for the March, we were proud to represent Evanston and to be part of this incredible day and movement. We look forward to marching again and helping register voters in October 2020 as part of the second March to the Polls.
“ 'Together We Rise' is the signature phrase of Jaquie Algee, WMC founding mother and current board president. We wholeheartedly agree with Jaquie. When groups work together in partnership they are stronger, more powerful and are able to accomplish so much more. That is why WMC is proud to sponsor the We March On Illinois Coalition, which is an ever-expanding group of phenomenal local and statewide progressive organizations with intersecting missions. We could not fully do the work we do without the strength and support of each other."
"Activists marched through the streets of downtown Chicago on Saturday, braving rain and near-freezing temperatures to participate in the protest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Women’s March returned to Chicago after not holding an event in 2019, due to concerns about cost; at the same time, the national Women’s March faced controversy related to the organization’s ties to Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, who has come under fire for anti-Semitic comments. This year’s event had no keynote speakers, a change from prior marches. Instead, attendees made their way through five blocks, each featuring a particular issue for activists to focus on this year: 2020 Census participation, gun violence prevention, climate justice, health care and voter registration.
Members of Indivisible Evanston attended the event, counting themselves among the estimated 10,000 marchers, the march’s organizers told The Chicago Tribune. The group was formed in 2017, and attended the 2018 Chicago Women’s March as well as other large-scale Chicago protests, such as 2018’s March to the Polls, group co-leader Laura Tanner Swinand said.
Evanston resident Lindy Knoepke had previously attended a Women’s March in Chicago, and said she was drawn back by the community she encountered at her first visit. She said she appreciated the fact that many volunteers were closer to her in age than she expected, which made her feel included.
“The issues may be the same, but they’re experienced in different ways by people of different ages,” Knoepke said. “I worry that some of the things I’m passionate about won’t be remembered, but I feel like they are when I come to these events.”
Aside from Indivisible Evanston, many groups from the Chicago area marched in support of various causes and campaigns. Politicians like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle also attended the march.
Still, the national organization has faced criticism of exclusivity, as some attendees have said it focuses too heavily on the perspective of cisgender, white women, excluding people of color, as well as non-binary and transgender people.
Leslye Lapping, Indivisible Evanston’s co-leader, said she appreciated how many different perspectives she saw represented at the march.
“On multiple levels, it’s really important for the Women’s March in Chicago to convey a message of inclusivity and acceptance,” Lapping said. “There are so many rumors about different groups not being welcomed, but that’s so far from the truth. Everyone is welcome in the Women’s March coalition.”
Evanston resident Kelly Pinter brought her husband, daughter and son to the event. It was the family’s first time attending the Women’s March. Pinter said that, after seeing the march in 2018, her daughter said she wanted to go as part of her tenth birthday celebration.
Pinter said she wants to instill values of equality and inclusion in her children, and thinks the Women’s March is a strong reminder of those views for them.
“As parents, I think it’s important for our son and daughter to have equal rights,” Pinter said. “It’s important for them to see that there are strong people out there that believe that both of them can do incredible things, and that they have a voice. A lot of times, little girls are taught to be sugar and spice, and we just want them to realize that their voice matters.”
Clarification: Women’s March Chicago planned a 2019 march hiatus, due to budget and time constraints of hosting a separate local march in October 2018 to encourage midterm election voting. The national Women’s March faced controversy at the same time related to the organization’s ties to Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.
-- Jacob Fulton, Assistant City Editor