The Woman’s March attracted hundreds of people, including student activists
Members of the community gathered in mass at the Fargo Civic Center for what has become the now annual Fargo-Moorhead Women’s March. The Inforum reported that 700 people joined the march. The Washington Post reported between 800,000 and 1 million people marched nationally.
Heidi Heitkamp was supposed to headline the rally and march, but had to cancel because of the sudden passing of her mother-in-law. The rally was instead headlined by women from the community, including teachers, activists and spiritual leaders.
The first person to take the podium was JT Shining Oneside, who spoke of getting her master’s degree and helping women overcome sexual assault and abuse. “We need to help one another, especially in these trying times,” Shining Oneside said.
Many women spoke, including Leah Juelke, North Dakota’s teacher of the year, and Kaye Hauschild who spoke about her professional and personal life as a transwoman.
The rally had a large political focus, with issues ranging from missing and murdered Indigenous women and children to the effects of the government shutdown on out of work and unpaid government workers. Cheryl Schaefer, who helped organize the event through Indivisible FM, encouraged people to help the food shelter. Schaefer gave a message to government employees, saying, “You are important. You are necessary, and you deserve to be paid.”
The crowd of activists poured out of the Civic Center into frigid temperatures and took two laps around four blocks of downtown Fargo. The march was actually shortened because of the cold, according to KFGO. Chants ranged from the general, such as “Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like,” to the personal, as with “Hands too small, cant build the wall.”
The protesters received mostly honks of support and smiles from passersby, as the large mass made its way down the sidewalks. The group obeyed the stoplights and traffic laws throughout the march.
After the march, two North Dakota State students who volunteered told the Spectrum about their experiences. Bryan Keidel got involved through the NDSU College Democrats. “I signed up to volunteer, so I came a little bit early and helped hand out programs,” Keidel said.
Keidel said the reason behind his volunteering was not having anything else to do and the personal importance of the cause. “I was happy I was able to come out and help out,” Keidel said. “Even if they didn’t need volunteers, I think I probably would have shown up just to be a part of it.”
“For me, I think I got a sense of some progress and like some anticipation for what the future can bring,” Keidel said. The event inspired “a real sense of wanting to get out there and make a change,” Keidel said.
Keidel said Taylor Spreeman was the one who announced the Women’s March and volunteer opportunities at the College Democrats meeting. Spreeman is the campus outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood and said this was her third time marching, with the first time in Washington D.C. after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The march had a different feel from the previous one, according to Spreeman. “I think this one is different from the rest because we have come so far,” Spreeman said. “And after the 2018 election, we’ve seen more women who’ve been elected into office or even just ran, even if they didn’t win, and so that’s a big step in the right direction.”