|Marchers vow to ‘continue to fight’|
|Published Monday, January 28, 2019|
RALEIGH – “Women unite and continue the fight,” chanted the emcees to a crowd of hundreds who gathered for the Raleigh Women’s March on Halifax Mall in downtown on Saturday. That message of solidarity was the theme throughout the event organized by the independent group, Women Mobilize NC.
“How are we going to reach the mountaintop?” asked Jessica Holmes, a Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair. In unison, the crowd answered back, “Together!”
Many of the marchers learned about the event through social media. Sheilah Sutton, the first African-American woman on the Town Board in Rolesville, saw an invitation on Facebook.
“I didn’t come the first two years, but I made a point of being here today,” she said.
Both women and men of all ages proudly held protest signs. “I came out today because I’ve been protesting for 50 years and equality is still an issue in this country,” said Connie Spears who marched with her two daughters and four grandsons.
Her daughter, Rebekah Dascoli from Raleigh, added that part of the reason they attended was to make her sons aware of the issues.
“It’s a hard thing raising white males in this nation today. We wanted to teach them empathy from an early age and that all people deserve respect,” Dascoli said.
Hannah Baggott Anderson is the faculty adviser of The American Association of University Women at UNC Pembroke. She drove students from the university to the march so they could experience political activism firsthand.
“Pembroke is in a very rural area, and the university has many underprivileged, minority students. I wanted to get them here today so they could see the city and understand that there are people out there who think like them,” Baggott Anderson said.
Many activist groups set up booths on Halifax Mall and shared how women’s rights relate to their cause. Representatives from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Public Schools First-N.C., and Moms Rising spoke to the crowd and marched with t-shirts bearing their organization’s name.
Jessica Hulick, a leader of the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action, addressed the crowd along with two women who both lost their sons to gun violence.
“We are here marching to raise awareness that gun violence prevention is a women’s issue and affects white, black, brown, trans, queer and women from every background,” Hulick said.
Mel Dickerson of Columbia, South Carolina, was impressed by the diversity of topics discussed. “I’ve seen conservative rallies, and they all mass produce the same sign for everyone to carry. At this march, I feel like the environment is positive and focuses on lots of issues, not just one topic. It’s important for people to step forward for all of these causes and to see them all out together like this really promotes solidarity,” Dickerson said.
Beyond the broader topics, some women marched because they said they experienced sexism personally. Sarai Placide, a 19-year-old sports broadcaster from Chapel Hill, shared how she feels marching is an important step towards changing behaviors, which improves life for every woman.
“A guy will just grab us in the club like they own us. My mom always says that’s not so bad, other women have it worse,” Placide said. “But if we stop that guy in the club and we stand up for our rights, we’ll make it better for all women.”
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