MIRANDA STAMBLER | THE SPECTRUM
Marchers held signs they made to show what they are fighting for.
On Jan. 20, over 600 people of all genders, races, beliefs and ages joined together for the 2018 Women’s March around the Fargo Civic Center.
Before the march began, people made signs and gathered for a rally in the basement of the Civic Center. Due to there being a capacity of only 600 people, many waited outside and in the halls for the march. During the rally, there were eight speakers to encourage marchers to get involved beyond the march.
“It’s so easy for us to be inspired today and then go home and forget, but it takes all of us,” Nicole Watkins, family consultant of Family Voices of North Dakota, said during her speech.
Lindsey Pouliot, a speaker for the NDSU College Democrats said, “A year ago, women marched on every continent — to prove that we would not be overlooked.”
Hamida Dakane, who won the 2018 Fargo Human Relations Award, focused on the importance of voting. “If you are here and you’re in college and you want to see the future change — I want to challenge you to go to the capital … I went there, and what I saw, no offense to anyone, everyone sitting on those seats are male, white and gray haired,” Dakane said.
Rebel Marie, who identifies as transgender, was one of the speakers. Through attending the women’s clinic, Pride Collective and Tri-State Transgender’s supporters grew in numbers. To make a change, Marie said, “I need you to volunteer; we need you to volunteer.”
Ruth Buffalo, North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and City of Fargo Native American Commission, said, “Today is special because we are honoring women, women who have come before us and the women who will carry our future generations forward.”
Sara Watson Curry, Moorhead City Council member, shared that more women are becoming educated on how to run and fight for what they believe in. “2018 is already shaping up to being the year of the women,” Curry said.
North Dakota House Rep. Kathy Hogan wrapped up the rally by explaining how now is the time for strong women to stand up. “We are the people. This government belongs to the people in this room,” Hogan said.
There were multiple signs made for the march that showed what individual marchers were fighting for. One sign read, “Girls just want to have fun-damental human rights.” Another being held by children read, “Next generation of Feminists.” From “We’re only getting started” to “more feminism less bullsh**,” “I will not be silent” to “Nasty Women raise great men,” the signs varied in topic from having to do with feminism, support of LGBT+ rights, President Trump, the government, etc.
A common theme amongst the marchers was “resist and persist.” People chanted and made signs to show that one should not only resist but also persist for their rights.
The Women’s March focused a lot on women, but it also brought light to equality for everyone. Many chants heard were, “Immigrants are welcome here;” “Racism has got to go” and “The people united, we’ll never be divided.”
During the march, Pete Tefft, well-known for his beliefs of white supremacy, showed up, resulting in the crowd chanting “White supremacy has to go,” which eventually transitioned into “Pete go home.”
Although Planned Parenthood and many Pro-Choice activists were involved, they encouraged Pro-Lifers to join. Susan Henderson, an NDSU alumna, explained her beliefs of pro-choice and the meaning of her sign that said “All Lives Matter.” “Because I don’t want it just to be that only women’s lives matter, only black lives matter — everybody’s life matters, the rich, the poor,” Henderson said.
Marchers were excited to explain why they believe a women’s march is important and how it will make a difference.
AJ Eckberg shared his frustrations on how people view protests as doing nothing when he sees it as bringing a light to problems that people do not discuss regularly. “It’s frustrating because — I talk to a lot of friends and acquaintances who they’re like, ‘Well what are you doing? You’re just out there walking around? That doesn’t do anything’ and then there’s anti-protestors saying, ‘It’s not worth the time; do something constructive’ but in a way I think this is constructive. It’s an act of solidarity saying, ‘We’re all here for different issues.’ Like not everyone here agrees with each other, but we can find enough common ground; I think that’s kind of symbolic for the country as a whole,” Eckberg shared.
NDSU student and president of Women’s Activist Organization, Liv Oland expressed the importance of a women’s march. “I think it’s important for people to unite and feel empowered together. It’s not very often, especially in the Fargo community, that you’re surrounded by people who have — the same views as you — like passion about women’s equality, so I think it’s incredibly important to have this reminder that we’re here and we’re resisting,” Oland said.
Rachael Michaud, a participant in the march said, “I feel like women’s voices get shut down a lot, and I think that it’s important to have some platforms where we all feel like we’re really having a voice and really making a powerful difference.”
Jazzy Lara, a marcher, expressed how frustrated she is that women are still fighting for “basic human rights.” “They’re going to try and make us stay quiet no matter what we’re fighting for, but the fact that there’s going to be so many people here shows that it’s never going to be quiet,” Lara shared.
Greg Johnson explained how he’s been to multiple protests in his life because he thinks that it gets people talking and starting to make a change. “I think everyone’s rights are important and the current climate has seen a lot of losses for women’s rights in the past probably three years, so I’d like to see that turned around,” Johnson expressed.
“The Women’s March last year was like the largest march ever in the U.S., all seven continents. That shows people that we are unhappy … I mean Hilary won the popular vote, and I think it goes to show that this is not what the people voted for, and yet this is our president,” marcher Haley Von Wald, said.
As the march went on, “Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like,” echoed throughout downtown Fargo as people honked in support and held their signs high.