Chattanooga Women's March once again calls for political proactivity
On the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 3,000 people equipped with signs and banners marched through the streets of downtown Chattanooga for the second annual Women’s March. Chants of “This is what democracy looks like!” rang through the air.
One of 250 marches spread across the nation, Saturday’s demonstration was held to unite in solidarity with the mission to “elevate the voices of marginalized women,” according to the march’s website.
People of all ages, genders and races rallied to show support for the movement.
However, amidst the signs reading “Girls just want to have fun[damental rights]” lies a deeper issue marchers were highlighting. Crowds across the nation were focused on what they perceive to be injustice at large and what they think ought to be done about it.
“I march to remind myself and others that the power to change the world is within our grasp,” said Rev. Alaina Cobb of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center and event coordinator for the march. “I march because the work of liberation is not done.”
“I marched because it was important to me to show my support for women’s equality,” Abbi Mason, junior pre-pharmacy and history major at Lee, said. “I also stand as an ally for those who are discriminated against for their race, sexual identity and class.”
In the year since the first Women’s March in protest of Trump's inauguration, the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative have added new dimensions to the women’s movement. These movements have kickstarted conversations concerning power dynamics, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.
In response, this year’s march was a proactive push towards returning to the polls, urging American citizens to show up to this year’s midterm elections and demand change.
“This movement is important because it's necessary to make our voices heard to generate change,” Mason said. “It is important to encourage people to vote for people who are going to support greater equality.”
Dr. Danielle Mitchell, a primary care and sports medicine physician who is running as a Democrat in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, was one of several speakers at the march. Mitchell urged Tennessee citizens to return to the polls for this year’s midterm elections.
As crowds passed by, Mitchell, bullhorn in hand exclaimed, “Tennessee, it’s time for a change! We’ll see you at the polls!”
Tennessee had one of the lowest voter turnout ratings in the 2016 primary election and has traditionally had some of the worst voter turnout numbers for the past eight years according to a recent Pew Research study.
Despite the low voter turnouts, thousands of people came out to the marches in Tennessee. The Nashville Women’s March alone reported attendance numbers of over 15,000.
Women and fellow supporters of the march are eager to take their energy and desire for change to the polls. The crowds gave a sense of hope to those who yearn for change to come.
“I am optimistic of a future in which we embody the spirit of equality,” said Ayung K. Ayai, a young activist and one of the speakers at the Chattanooga event, “[where] we may nurture the development of divine femininity.”
Ayai ended her speech with a popular feminist mantra.
“Here’s to strong women,” Ayai said. “May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”