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Why these women are marching

On Saturday, thousands of people will participate in the Women’s March on Washington, the
largest protest event around the inauguration of President Trump. Here are the stories of several people who traveled to Washington, D.C. by plane and car to attend the march.

Linda Aso and Alianna Noah-Rayon

When Linda Aso, 70, learned about the Women’s March on Washington, she immediately called her granddaughter.

Aso flew to Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning from her home in Portland, Oregon. Alianna Noah-Rayon, her 21-year-old granddaughter, arrived at the Capitol later that day from Missoula, Montana, where she is a junior at the University of Montana.

“Perhaps my legacy is to introduce my granddaughter to Washington DC and to the experience of marching,” said Aso, a retired music teacher.

As Trump supporters gathered in the Capitol on Friday to celebrate the new president, people like Aso and her granddaughter also flooded into Washington for the women’s march, which is set to take place on Saturday.

As many as 200,000 people are reportedly considering attending the march. Organizers began planning soon after Election Day, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major U.S. political party.

Aso said she was “monumentally disappointed” by the outcome of the election. An enthusiastic Clinton supporter, Aso said she feared Clinton’s loss sent a message to young women that, even with a good education, they faced limits in achieving the same success as men.

But Noah-Rayon, who is pursuing a double-major in forensic anthropology and criminology, seemed optimistic about the future.

Noah-Rayon said she was passionate about women’s rights, reproductive health care access, and the rights of minority groups. Plenty of people at the march will share her views. But Noah-Rayon said she was just as interested in meeting people with different perspectives.

“This march is the child of all of these people’s deep passions that maybe they haven’t been able to release,” she said.

Reported by Hannah Grabenstein

Rebeca Champney

Rebeca Champney, a Guatemalan immigrant and U.S. citizen, cried as she stood on the National Mall for the Women’s March on Washington, where thousands descended to protest President Donald Trump Saturday.

She stood holding three posters, including one drawn by her daughter, which showed a mother emigrating to a big city attached with veins from her heart to her daughter and son, like a Frida Kahlo painting, along with imagery of birds flying. “[Birds] migrate for a reason and so do we,” Champney said. “Migration is beautiful.”

Champney emigrated to the U.S. after being shot in the face in her home by an unknown shooter during the time of post-war violence in Guatemala. The bullet, which traveled through her cheek, is still lodged in her neck. She came to the U.S. looking for a safe place to raise her four children, whose father is a U.S. citizen.

Since emigrating here, Champney said, “my children got all the opportunities I dreamt of: college, food, health. “But now I am a little afraid of what’s going on.” Champney, who lives in Los Angeles, is concerned with Trump’s rhetoric around immigrants, women and foreign policy.

Rebeca Champney traveled to the Women's March from California. She is originally from Guatemala and marched for family and friends who died during and after the war there. Photo by Elizabeth Flock

Rebeca Champney is originally from Guatemala and marched for family and friends who were victims of the war. Photo by Elizabeth Flock

Champney wanted to participate in the Saturday’s Women’s March in part because she had watched the success of widespread protests in Guatemala in 2015, when thousands marched against government corruption, leading to the president’s resignation. “I know the power of a voice that raises with other voices,” she said.

Champney arrived at the Women’s March at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday, and stayed all day, listening to the many speakers and watching the other marchers walk by. She stood holding her posters and wearing a cluster of pink ribbons around her neck, which were inscribed with the names of hundreds of Guatemalan and Latina people she said she was symbolically marching for.

The ribbons included names of rape victims, domestic violence victims, community leaders, journalists, teachers, and several children whom she said had been murdered in Guatemala with no investigation, including her nephew, who was murdered a year ago at age 26. On Monday, Champney will take the ribbons to the U.S. Capitol.

Of the impact of the march, she said she believed it was all about awareness. “People from here will inform other people, and awareness will be raised. And then people will start making calls to senators and community leaders.”

Many people in her immediate Latino community had been worried about her attending the march, she said, saying she might be arrested, or get caught up in violence or rioting.

“And I came anyway, and nothing happened,” she said. “So next time they won’t be afraid. And more and more will be involved.”

Reported by Elizabeth Flock

Anti-abortion advocates Destiny Herndon De-La Rosa, the founder of New Wave Feminists, and Cessilye Smith (right) proudly represented a minority opinion at the Women's March on Washington. Their group emphasizes that being pro-life and feminist are not mutually exclusive.

Anti-abortion advocates Destiny Herndon De-La Rosa, the founder of New Wave Feminists, and Cessilye Smith (right) proudly represented a minority opinion at the Women’s March on Washington. Their group emphasizes that being pro-life and feminist are not mutually exclusive.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa

When Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, the founder of the group New Wave Feminists, shows up at the march on Saturday, she knows she’ll stand out for more than her brightly-colored purple hair.

Her group’s slogan is “Badass. Prolife. Feminists.” Most of the attendees at the march, including the march’s partner organizations, are pro-choice.

New Wave Feminists does not advocate for making abortion illegal. But the group does call for policies that would make abortion “unthinkable and unnecessary.”

The group was added to the list of partners last week, but an article in The Atlantic sparked backlash, and march organizers removed them from the list.

Herndon-De La Rosa, who lives in Dallas, was disappointed by the decision because she said she believed being pro-life and feminist are not mutually exclusive. But she said it didn’t change her decision to attend the march. She flew in from Dallas on Friday, and said she was looking forward to the march.

“As pro-life feminists we firmly believe in nonviolence, and violence against women is never acceptable, even in the womb,” she said.

Reported by Gretchen Frazee

Ryan Cadiz

Despite the name of the march, not all of its attendees will be women.

Ryan Cadiz, 40, a photo editor who lives in New York, said he planned to march on Saturday to stand up for equal rights for all Americans.

“I am proud to be a brown, gay American,” said Cadiz, who identifies as queer. Cadiz, who voted for Hillary Clinton in the election, said he opposed President Trump’s views on a wide range of issues. “I want to continue to have the right to get married and have kids,” he said.

Marching is also a form of protest against Trump, he said.

Cadiz said he thought Trump’s rise had brought out an ugly side of America, “from the hate speech that I now hear daily on public transportation, to the sexual assaults whose perpetrators [think they] won’t be punished because of the example that Trump has set.”

Still, Cadiz said he knew the event would not yield immediate results.

“I have no delusions that one march will change everything,” Cadiz said. “But I do believe that marching is an expression of the people’s power,” he says.

By Vicky Pasquantonio

Jessica Neuwirth attends the Women's March in Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Joshua Barajas

Jessica Neuwirth attends the Women’s March in Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Joshua Barajas

Jessica Neuwirth

Many people think the Equal Rights Amendment was passed in the 1970’s. But passage of the ERA — a longtime goal of the women’s rights movement — didn’t happen. While it passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification, it fell three states short and has languished in recent decades.

Originally presented by the suffragette leader Alice Paul in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment calls for ““Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of by any state on account of sex.”

Jessica Neuwirth, an attorney who heads the ERA Coalition and is planning to attend the march, said the election created a “sense of urgency” for the women’s rights movement. Neuwirth is driving from New York to Washington, D.C. for the march with her mother and her niece.

“I think what we would consider progress for women in 2017 hasn’t changed because of the election. Our goal post has not changed, it’s just become harder,” said Neuwirth, whose group advocates for the passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

At the same time, Neuwirth said the election caused many activists to reflect on the movement’s broader goals.

“After the election, and in light of everything that happened during the campaign, and some of the fears that have been really aggravated by things that have been said, I think there was a sense of maybe we need to regroup,” so the Coalition decided to broaden their platform.

“The twin pillars that we’ve been talking about are sex and race, as the two key areas that were omitted very intentionally by the founders from the constitution.”

By Sandy Petrykowski

Chia Morgan participates at the Women's March in Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Joshua Barajas

Chia Morgan participates at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Joshua Barajas

Chia Morgan

For Chia Morgan, a 30-year-old resident of Flint, Michigan, the march represents an opportunity to draw attention to a more local issue.

Flint experienced its 1,000th day without clean water last Thursday, a grim milestone in the city’s ongoing water crisis. “I’m marching to keep that in the forefront,” said Morgan, a social worker. “We want to make sure that it is not a forgotten situation. We are still in crisis.”

But Morgan said she was also marching to break down the glass ceiling for her 4-year-old daughter. In an interview earlier this week, Morgan said she planned to drive with her daughter to Washington, D.C. for the march, and might bring her along.

“When [my daughter] tells me she can’t do something, I tell her, ‘Can’t is not an option. If all of the odds are against you, you bust through those odds.’”

Hopefully the march will also send a message to President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, she added.

“All of these women have made this journey from across the world,” Morgan said. “And maybe if they are all coming together, maybe [the new administration] should listen.”

By Kristen Doerer

Alison Mariella Désir

Alison Désir is an entrepreneur and an avid runner, not an activist. After Donald Trump was elected, however, the 31-year-old New Yorker and founder of the Harlem Runners group said she began to feel like she should have done more to help elect Hillary Clinton.

So Désir decided to organize a relay race with four of her friends from her home in Harlem to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., a distance of total 240 miles. She started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $44,000 for Planned Parenthood — a nod to the 44th president, Barack Obama, and her own concerns about health care policy under President Trump

“It’s no secret that this incoming Administration and Congress have a target on women’s right to choose and women’s health. There will never come a time that I look back and wonder, ‘what could I have done to protect that right?'” Désir wrote on her GoFundMe page.

What happened next was unimaginable, Désir said. Hundreds of women expressed interest in joining the run, prompting Désir to expand the relay into what she called a “Mega Relay” for runners along the entire route. Within weeks, the campaign had met its $44,000 goal.

“It’s more than an athletic endeavor, it’s a political endeavor,” Désir said. “It’s changed my view of what is possible. I can decide I’m going to run to D.C. and make an impact. I want to continue to be an activist, but in an artistic way.”

Escorted in by more than 50 runners, Désir arrived at the Capitol building at 6:21 a.m. on the day of the Women’s March — two hours ahead of schedule.

“We made it to the March later that morning on very sore and tired legs. It was the perfect payoff to be able to unite with like-minded men and women,” she said. “We didn’t last too long, but it was a moment I will never forget.” And on the bus ride home to New York City, the GoFundMe campaign hit $100,000.

By Sandy Petrykowski

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