Daily Egyptian

Carbondale march celebrates women’s rights, equality and unity

Demonstrators+participating+in+the+Southern+Illinois+March+to+the+Polls+walk+near+the+intersection+of+East+Walnut+Street+Saturday%2C+Jan.+20%2C+2018%2C+in+Carbondale.+%28Athena+Chrysanthou+%7C+%40Chrysant1Athena%29
Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois March to the Polls walk near the intersection of East Walnut Street Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Carbondale. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois March to the Polls walk near the intersection of East Walnut Street Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Carbondale. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Demonstrators participating in the Southern Illinois March to the Polls walk near the intersection of East Walnut Street Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Carbondale. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Amelia Blakely, Campus Editor

“The people united, will never be defeated,” rang through the streets of downtown Carbondale Saturday as hundreds took part in the Southern Illinois March to the Polls hosted by the Women United Network.

Those gathered came to stand up for women’s rights, the Black Lives Matter Movement, reproductive rights and demonstrate against the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

This year’s march marks the one year anniversary of the Women’s March, which was spurred by President Trump’s inauguration.

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Liz Hunter, one of the organizers of march, said this year’s goal is to encourage people to vote.

The Women United Network was created after Hunter attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. last year.

After the march participants were told to send postcards to legislators, Hunter said.

Instead of sending out postcards by herself, Hunter organized a postcard making party at Pagliai’s in the winter of 2017.

Approximately 200 hundred people came to the party and wrote about 1,500 postcards, Hunter said.  

Brian Munoz
Micah Chanyakorn, 2, of Carbondale, waves around a flag while riding on his mother Jennifer’s shoulders, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, during the 2018 Southern Illinois March to the Polls in Carbondale.

“At that point, everyone was asking ‘what next?’” Hunter said. “Everyone wanted to get involved and that’s when I knew somebody needed to step up.”

The turnout for the march showed people in southern Illinois are concerned about the issues going on in the government, Hunter said.

One marcher, Phil Mendenhall, said until President Trump’s election he had never been political.

“We’re here to resist,” Mendenhall said.

Like Mendenhall the 2016 presidential election inspired Rena Bever to run for state central committeewoman for the southern Illinois congressional district 15.

“After the election, I felt the need to talk to like-minded women,” Bever said.

Andrea Stader of Carbondale walks on South University Avenue Saturday Jan. 20, 2017, during the Southern Illinois March to the Polls in Carbondale. “I believe in democracy,” Stader said. “We need to stand up for democracy, freedom of the press and women’s rights.” (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena

Bever had coffee with six other women, which then grew to ten.

That was the beginning of the organization, League of Like-Minded Resistors, which is based in Wabash County. The league now has 75 members, both men and women.

The league provides members a space to have positive interactions with each other and has joined with the local democratic party.

For many marchers this year was their second time embracing their freedom of expression and speaking out against the current presidential administration.

Jaclyn Berg, a graduate student studying philosophy, and her two daughters participated in this year’s and last year’s march.

She said the reason why her and her daughter’s walked in the march is to remind people it has been a year since the inauguration.

“We can’t give up and think it’s normal after a year,” Berg said.

Berg carried signs reminding people to stand up for injustice, even if it doesn’t directly affect them and remember their voice does matters.

“If everybody believes they make a difference to a couple people, that’s still a difference,” Berg said.

If more people believed that she said more of a difference would be made.

Sana Haque, a volunteer for the march said seeing a united front of about half a million people marching in Washington D.C.last year was powerful.

Following last year’s experience Haque said one of her goals for the southern Illinois march was to have many different organizations and groups have booths at the march’s table fair she helped organized.

Rose Weisburd of Carbondale walks down University Avenue Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, during the Southern Illinois March to the Polls in Carbondale. Weisburd was born in Germany but came to the U.S. when she was nine. “I think the country is in real genuine danger,” Weisburd said. “What we are doing right now defines where the U.S. is going and how we want it to be.”

Regardless of ideologies, Haque said people can stand in a united front by sharing the same values such as: dignity, justice, human rights, and women’s rights.

First-time marcher Harry Klein said he was impressed by the march and was surprised at the volume of the crowd.

“It’s warmer in the crowd,” Klein said.

Klein was devastated when President Trump was elected and said he is still unable to accept it. The march Klein said, symbolizes hope for the next year.

Campus Editor Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely.

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