More than a million people showed up at Women’s March demonstrations Saturday in all 50 states, according to the New York Times, and that’s not counting the rallies in London, Paris, Berlin—and even Antarctica—in what was the largest public rebuff of a newly elected president ever. More than 500,000 flooded into Washington, the AP reports, and Charlottesvillians joined in the post-inaugural protest both here and in the nation’s capital.
At least 25 buses carrying 1,500 locals left Charlottesville early January 21, estimated Cynthia Neff, who was shepherding eight buses. And many others drove their own cars or took Amtrak to Washington. [Read Elizabeth Derby’s report of the march here.]
For those who couldn’t journey to the nation’s capital, a rally at IX Art Park drew at least 2,000, according to IX manager Brian Wimer, who said it was the largest crowd he’d ever seen there.
Mobility is an issue for Charlottesville Gathers organizer Gail Hyder Wiley that made a march in Washington difficult, and she wanted to do something to help those participate who couldn’t manage the D.C. trip. She was put in touch with collaborator Jill Williams, who had an idea to reach out to middle and high school students.
The multi-faceted event at IX from 9am to 1pm “totally exceeded my expectations,” says Wiley. “I think it showed Charlottesville at its best.”
The biggest problem was having to turn away people from UVA Women’s Center’s Claire Kaplan’s talk about active bystander intervention. The 300 spaces indoors “filled up much sooner than we expected,” says Wiley.
Woodie Sprinkel traveled from Richmond to join her friend Jill York in Charlottesville because an issue with her leg made that easier than a trek to Washington. They joined the pink pussy power hat-wearing, sign-carrying crowd at IX.
“The future is nasty, the future is female,” said one sign. “This pussy grabs back,” read another, echoing a theme among the demonstrators stemming from Donald Trump’s boasts that he could grab female genitalia with impunity.
Cipo Copity Sotelo carried a sign that said, “Immigrants make America great” and also touched on climate change and women’s rights. She’s a journalist from Mexico who immigrated here “because they’re killing journalists in Mexico,” she said. She was joined by her daughter, Ayesha Gaona-Sotelo, who said, “I want to grow up in a country where we’re all equal, free and have civil rights.”
Laura Lee Gulledge had thought about going to Washington. But she brought her “Girls just want to have fun-ding for Planned Parenthood” sign to IX instead with her friend Juliet Trail.
“We just needed to show up,” said Trail. “People are marching all over the country and we wanted to be a part of that.”
“It was magical,” says Wiley. And she says it’s not the last we’ll hear from Charlottesville Gathers—at least once she recovers from Saturday’s event.