6:33 AM / Thursday December 1, 2022

28 Jan 2017

Women’s March in Philadelphia draws more than 50,000 protestors

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January 28, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Rasheda Randall, along with her two daughters and her niece paid homage to African American women who played a large role in women’s rights in their posters.  (Photo: Amy V. Simmons )

Numbers exceeds original estimate of 20,000, according to Mayor’s Office

By Amy V. Simmons

Intersectional baby steps were taken on Saturday as a diverse, intergenerational crowd came together in Philadelphia to protest the Trump administration and its agenda.

The face of women’s movement, in general, has been White, female, wealthy and exclusive. And as with all movements, there has also been a generation gap developing and causing friction in recent years, as younger leaders slowly assume the mantle from a generation reluctant to cede it.

However, a change was in the air, as women, men, and children of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages—and causes—came together on Saturday to begin the process of forming alliances to counteract and fight against the Trump Agenda.

Rasheda Randall, 42, of Conshohocken, brought her daughters and her niece to march with her. Each held a different homemade sign reflecting American women who challenged traditional feminism to become more inclusive.

“We included this [from Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 Women’s Rights Convention speech] ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ slogan to remind people that African American women, Latino women Asian women – women of all backgrounds —were[traditionally] in this movement as well.”

It was important to Randall for her family to take part in the march.

“I wanted my girls to take part in democracy peacefully,” she said. “I wanted them to realize that even though we have a new President we don’t agree with, there are ways that we can disagree with him in a peaceful way.”

Although it was still overwhelming White and female, Randall noted the diversity of Saturday’s crowd.

“What was nice about the march is that there were men there of all colors and shapes, people in wheelchairs. I wanted my girls to see that, not just on television, but to see it for themselves,” she said.

Regarding the legacy of former President Barack Obama, she sees a sharp contrast between him and the current president. To Randall, he leaves a legacy of respect and justice.

“Respect for the working woman – especially women of color. Also, I work in the justice system, so it [Obama’s legacy] also means to see the sentences of so many people incarcerated for nonviolent offenses commuted. He was aware of the issue of mass incarceration, which is so important to all of our communities, but especially communities of color,” she said.

Because she is also a mental health counselor, Randall was particularly happy with Obama’s signature achievement — The Affordable Care Act — and what that meant for her patients.

“I was happy to have so many clients be able to afford mental health care, where they couldn’t before. I hope that continues.”

Randall is concerned about the new administration.

“This new administration has a lack of proximity to everyday working people…their struggles” she said. “The new president lacks experience as a working person. He inherited his wealth. It would benefit and behoove him to surround himself with people who do know what it’s like. He doesn’t seem to be doing that.”

Roma Warner, Karen Jackson and her daughter, Santii Jackson were inspired by Saturday’s march. (Photo: Amy V. Simmons)

There were a vast array of traditional non-profit groups and advocates among the marchers, but there many young grassroots activists and organizers present as well.

Syntii Jackson, 25, of a new policy — focused advocacy organization called The United State of Women, was signing people up to learn more about opportunities like the Women’s March and more. The group acts as an information clearing house, watchdog and intermediary to bring attention to policy issues that affect women in particular.

“Anytime Congress tries to pass a bill that directly affects us, we notify them so our voice can be heard,” Jackson said.

Participating in the march was important to her.

“It’s always one thing to sit behind the television, then rant and rave about it, but it is completely different when you get out here and on the ground. This is definitely amazing,” she said.

Rather than sit home, despondent about the events of the previous days (the Obama’s final words and departures, the swearing-in of the new president), Jackson was glad to be out doing something tangible about making a difference.

As a millennial activist, she viewed the diversity represented at the march through an intersectional lens, rather than just through race, gender or other traditional identifiers.

“I’m excited to see all the guys and the dads with little girls on their shoulders, holding their own signs, protesting…[the election] was a wake-up call. You have to get out and vote. It doesn’t just start at the top. You have to get out and vote for your local legislators, too.

Her mother, Karen Jackson, 51, of Dover, came both in support of her daughter and for veterans issues. Jackson is a retired United States Marine with 22 years of service.

“My greatest concern is the homelessness that is in the world today for our vets; also, Congress trying to take away our rights as far as mental health [benefits]; there are so many military members with PTSD,” the elder Jackson said.

Philadelphia Councilwoman at Large Helen Gym (D) delivered some of the strongest remarks of the day. Her message about forming alliances to address the Trump agenda resonated with the crowd.

“All of us have to work together, because all of us are under attack!” Councilwoman Gym shouted in defiance, as the protestors roared in affirmation.

D’Bankzz and The Earthday Kids performed “Put the Guns to Sleep,” a song she originally wrote and recorded for National Peace Day Philly. A portion of proceeds from downloads of the song from the Earth Day Kids News Network ( are being donated to the organizers of last Saturday’s Philly and DC marches.

Dee Banks (her actual name) turned 18 shortly after the 2016 election, but encouraged her peers who were already old enough to register and vote. She feels strongly about what is at stake for the future. Also — a part of The Earth Day Kids, she has seen a growing trend of young people of all ethnicities and races becoming more involved with environmental issues.

“I feel that we can make history with all of these different movements and we can finally impact the world,” Banks said. “In four years, everyone should get out and vote. I know I will.

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