Carbondale women’s march draws hundreds in a show of equality, solidarity

Demonstrators+participating+in+the+Southern+Illinois+Women%E2%80%99s+March+wave+to+passing+cars+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+21%2C+2017%2C+in+front+of+the+Carbondale+Civic+Center.+%28Bill+Lukitsch+%7C+%40lukitsbill%29+
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Carbondale women’s march draws hundreds in a show of equality, solidarity

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois Women’s March wave to passing cars on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois Women’s March wave to passing cars on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois Women’s March wave to passing cars on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois Women’s March wave to passing cars on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

By Marnie Leonard

For Carbondale resident Sylvia Greenfield, the scene on Saturday afternoon at the Carbondale Civic Center was a familiar one.

As about 800 people gathered for the Southern Illinois Women’s March to stand up for causes like reproductive rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change and universal health care, Greenfield remembered another time in American history.

“I was in Washington in 1963 for the civil rights march,” said Greenfield, who has lived in the area since 1968. “I certainly didn’t think I would be doing this again 50 years later.”

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Greenfield said her main motivation for marching, like many others who walked the one mile route through the city, was President Donald Trump.

“I worry about the loss of human rights,” Greenfield said. “How can [Trump] run a country? He has no empathy, except for millionaires.”

Hannah Baker, a senior at Carbondale Community High School, participates in the Southern Illinois Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. Baker said she attended with about a dozen other members of the high school’s women’s leadership club. “We’re just supporting the cause,” she said. (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

The day began at 9 a.m. with a community breakfast, followed by sign-making and icebreaker activities. Similar demonstrations took place in more than 650 other cities across the world, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington. The march was preceded by chants and songs led by pastor Sarah Richards of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship.

“Show me what democracy looks like,” Richards said to the crowd.

“This is what democracy looks like,” marchers chanted back.

Marsha Forest led a Native American Blessing of the March, which was taken from a thanksgiving prayer of the Mohawk Tribe.

“Once this march is over, I hope and pray you don’t go back to sleep,” Forest said, adding that everyone should find out who their local legislative representatives are and “become their pen pal.”

When the hundreds of marchers began to file out of the Civic Center and onto the sidewalk, event organizer Kathryn Neely stood to the side as the line passed her. For every five or so participants that went by, one got Neely’s attention to say, “Thank you.”

“I’ve been getting that all week,” Neely said. “People have been coming up to me saying ‘I’m so glad to be able to march with my mother, my daughter, my niece.’ This has truly struck a chord with the community, and I’ve had help from so many.”

Taylor Butler, a junior from Dayton, Ohio, studying mechanical engineering, carried a sign that read “A woman’s place is in the revolution.”

Bigotry has always existed in the United States, Butler said, but she fears Trump is normalizing harmful ideologies.

“We live in a time where it’s worse to call someone sexist and racist than to actually be sexist and racist,” Butler said. “Fundamental human rights are being attacked.”

Butler said some may view protesting as useless or inconvenient, but “protesting has always changed the world.”

Lee Lichner, a sophomore from St. Charles studying cinema agreed.

“Of course protest is inconvenient,” Lichner said. “That’s the point. It’s supposed to be inconvenient. Donald Trump’s whole presidency is an inconvenience to my existence.”

Other signs had slogans like “Respect your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter and yourself,” “We can’t build a wall to stop climate change,” “Love, not hate, makes America great,” and “Healthcare for all.”

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  • Sallie Schramm, of Carbondale, shakes a maraca during the women’s march Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, near the intersection of East Walnut Street and South Illinois Avenue. She said she was involved with the organizing committee for the march. “I have two 20-something daughters and I want there to be a peaceful, just, equitable future for them and all the people to follow behind me.” (Bill Lukitsch @lukitsbill)

  • Oliver Shalosky, left, Finn Kaszubski and Sawyer Pankau lead their parents down West Cherry Street on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, during the Southern Illinois Women’s March. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

  • Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois Women’s March welcome a wave of marchers at the finish Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

  • Linda Birhary of Murphysboro holds a sign during a women’s march Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. Bihary said the march held special significance to her because her parents escaped from communism in Hungary when she was young. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

  • Trish Cameron of Makanda brushes the hair of her one-year-old daughter, Hazel James, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in the Carbondale Civic Center after the Southern Illinois Women’s March. Cameron said she helped organize some of the activities for children following the march. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

  • Connie Hawley-Lowe stands with a sign during the Southern Illlinois Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. "This sign says it all," said Hawley-Lowe, who said after she heard the recording of President Donald Trump advising to another man to "Grab ’em by the pussy," she cried for weeks. "It's disgusting," she said. (Anna Spoerre | @Anna Spoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • Pat Grimmer, a retired Carbondale Community High School teacher, smiles as Esther Hays, of Carbondale, uses her phone to take a selfie near the end of the Southern Illinois Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. "I feel a lot more positive after being here today instead of overwhelmed with all the negative feelings," Hays said. Grimmer, who held a sign with an image of the former first family, said she has also participated in anti-war protests in Carbondale. (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • Sabor de Mel owner Melba Gastal, Berleing Toruno, Brad Smith, Cindy Ludington and Eduardo Gastal wave at Southern Illinois Women's March participants Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, as they pass by the oppostite side of South Illinois Avenue. "We just heard them and came out," said Eduardo, Melba's husband. "I'm very impressed. It's very organized — I've never seen this in my seven years in Carbondale." (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • Cherie Watson, of Carbondale, walks with hundreds of others during the Southern Illinois Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, along Illinois Avenue. "We can't unlearn the rights we've had up to now," said Watson, who was invited to the Washington march but was unable to attend, so she choose to participate in Carbondale instead. "I have two daughters — it's something I can't ignore." (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • Catori Sims, 3, sits on the shoulders of her father, Zach Sims, of Carbondale, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, as they walk down Illinois Avenue during the Southern Illinois Women's March. "I have a wife and a mother and women's rights are important," said Zach, whose wife Megan and daughter Luna, 6, also attended the march. "I want to teach the kids about it as well." (Anna Spoerre |@annaspoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • A group of girls walk in front of their mothers holding signs during the Southern Illinois Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in front of the Carbondale Civic Center. Andrea Imre, the mother of one of the girls, said the women decided to bring their daughters out because "they are our future." (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

    Anna Spoerre

  • Carbondale High School student Bushrah Abughazaleh repositions her tiara Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, during the Southern Illinois Women's March by the Carbondale Civic Center. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

    Morgan Timms

  • Southern Illinois Women's March participants make their way to the Carbondale Civic Center on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the start of the march. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

  • Southern Illinois Women's March volunteer Shanna Mosely, of Carbondale, paints a transgender equality symbol on the cheek of Becca Hooks, of Homewood, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the start of the march at the Carbondale Civic Center. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

    Morgan Timms

  • Kayelyn Jones, 4, of Carbondale, shares a moment with her grandmother, LaVell Hayes-Cox, as the pair prepare signs Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the beginning of the Southern Illinois Women's March at the Carbondale Civic Center. "We just want our voices to be heard," Hayes-Cox said. "I want [my grandchildren] to remember that they matter. Their lives matter. Their desires in life matter." (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

    Morgan Timms

  • Five-year-old Frankie June Rutecki, of Carbondale, gets a shoulder-ride from her mother, Katherine Rutecki, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the beginning of the Southern Illinois Women's March at the Carbondale Civic Center. "We're really disappointed in the election," Katherine said. "It feels like we went backwards. So this march is a chance for us to come together and move forward." (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

  • Lillian Clerk, 9, of Carbondale, holds a sign she made with her mother, Ashley Clerk, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the beginning of the Southern Illinois Women's March at the Carbondale Civic Center. "That sign is important to [Lillian] because she's in the bilingual class at school," Ashley said. "When Trump became president, she was terrified." (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

  • April Stanley, of Carbondale, helps Associate Professor of Cinema and Photography Antonio Martinez untangle balloon strings Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, during the Southern Illinois Women's March in Carbondale. Stanley said the pair brought balloons to "bring the light of optimism to the march." (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

  • Carolyn Taylor, of Carbondale, left, marches ahead of her daughter, Sheree Swanson, of Carbondale, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, during the Southern Illinois Women's March in Carbondale. "We are here because we feel we have to stand up for all the people who are discriminated against," Swanson said. Taylor and Swanson's signs read, "Make America tolerant again," and "Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter." (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

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For some, the march was about sending a message to future generations.

Jenny Akers, a Carterville resident of 20 years, brought her 14-year-old daughter Gia to the event to “set a better example” than she said she feels Trump is setting.

Gia and her two brothers were born in Guatemala but have lived in the U.S. since they were infants. Akers said the “discriminatory behavior” Trump displays toward immigrants and women makes her concerned for her children.

“My son had someone at school tell him they hated the color of his skin,” Akers said. “And I fear some of the rights I grew up having as a woman may not be there for my daughter.”

Akers made a sign for her daughter that read “Todos somos iguales — we are all equal,” and said she hoped the march would drive that point home for the teenager.

Barbara Green, of Marion, photographs Kayeleigh Sharp, a doctoral student in anthropology, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, before the start of the Southern Illinois Women’s March at the Carbondale Civic Center. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

Following the demonstration, marchers returned to the Civic Center for live music and refreshments and to reflect on their march experience with one another.

Ekateryna Bondareva, a 2013 alumna currently in graduate school at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, said the march was meant to “lift people up” and express that the community “will not be silent.”

“I felt so serene and euphoric in support of these major issues,” Bondareva said. “There has been nothing but love and comfort and peace here.”

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

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