Thousands made their way from Cal Anderson Park to the Seattle Center Saturday in a third year of marching for women’s rights in Seattle and as part of the national Women’s March movement. There were fewer people compared to the two previous marches in the city with the 2017 inaugural march of around 120,000 people setting the record for largest demonstration in Seattle’s history and the largest event ever hosted in Cal Anderson. The 2019 march still brought out thousands to the streets of Capitol Hill.
Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and Monserrat Padilla led the morning rally to start the day in Cal Anderson. “We have to be more than just marching today, we have to donate, volunteer, we have to lead,” said Echohawk-Hayashi, executive director of Chief Seattle Club.
“I’m undocumented and unafraid. Transgender and unashamed. A woman and unapologetic about it,” Padilla shouted into the mic. The crowd cheered. Padilla, coordinator with the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, then asked the audience to call out after her, “Trans women are real women.”
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) January 19, 2019
Previous CHS Women’s March Coverage: 2018: Thousands fill streets of Capitol Hill for 2018 Seattle Women’s March | 2017: Women’s March stretches from Central District to the Seattle Center — UPDATE: 120,000
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While other the speakers, including Rev. Bianca Lovelace of Washington Poor People’s Campaign, poet Hanan Hassan, Cinthia Vazquezof Washington Dream Coalition, ChrisTiana Obey Sumnerof Seattle Disability Commission, and Dr. Rev. Kelle Brown, Lead Pastor, Plymouth Church Seattle spoke, the crowd grew steadily until Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” signaled the crowd to start marching, with the Indigenous Contingent leading the way.
A group of young women was getting ready to join the crowd on E Pine. They were wearing pink eyeshadow, which they had agreed to all wear. “We are here to support women’s rights, protest climate change, support immigration, trans rights and to get rid of Trump,” they said, each person chiming in with another item to add to the list. “And,” adds one: “To start 2019 off the right way.”
— Margo Vansynghel (@Margo_vs) January 19, 2019
Hanna Moss, wearing a pink teddy-bear sweater, plastic red-heart glasses and a “Mean Girls”-themed sign (showing Regina-ovaries saying “Why are you so obsessed with Me”) said this was her first march. “I’m really empowered by the women in my life,” she said. “The provider in my family is my mom. She is an immigrant, she came here without any family and now she is a pharmacist and she inspires me every day to do what I want to do.”
Quara Morris, 17, was carrying a sign that said, in multi-colored writing “Black Power / LGBTQIA Power / Women Power / Student Power / All Power to the People” “I did want to mention Black Power and all these different types of women,” Morris, who had taken the day off work waitressing in Poulsbo, said, “because I’d heard about women of color having bad experiences at the marches because of white feminism, I wanted to include WOC in this.”
Meena, who didn’t want her last name used because she didn’t want to jeopardize her job, was following along with the quick pace of the crowd with her daughter in a stroller. “This is a very important day for me”, she said. “During the first march, I was pregnant with her.”
2017’s inaugural Women’s March organizers, Seattle Womxn Marching Forward, were back in the organizing seat after a one-year hiatus. The 2018 Women’s March in Seattle was planned by another group. The rally also started earlier, at 9 AM, and was shorter, to make sure that the crowd could start marching towards Seattle Center, where a day of programs and panels was planned, as part of a weekend of activism that includes MLK Day march and day of service this Sunday.
Still, Cal Anderson was the epicenter of today’s morning activities, with the crowd assembling on the park’s Bobby Morris playfield in front of a stage with a red-lettered backdrop spelling out this year’s theme: “Building Power for Love and Liberation.”
What was different too, this year, was a controversy over national Women’s March organizers. Leaders from the national organization behind the marches have been criticized for ties with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, known for anti-semitism and anti-trans remarks. On Friday, the Seattle chapter shared a statement formally denouncing Farrakhan saying that you “cannot build a movement of social justice and equity without fighting anti-semitism.”
Let’s march pic.twitter.com/babW4rhxal
— jseattle (@jseattle) January 19, 2019
Many people asked about the critique of antisemitism leveled at the movement or tomorrow’s “other” Women’s March, We Are The Change-A March for Women 3.0, held Sunday so that Jewish women observing Shabbat and working women could join, had not heard about it. Nor had Tosh, a queer, reform Jewish woman here “here because I’m seeing the rise of fascism in America, and we’re better than that.”
Asked about their thoughts on the critiques of anti-semitism, they said that the left cannot be divided by this. “We have real enemies and they’re not our brothers and sisters who are trying to answer the questions about equality. One side is against us, and we have tonight that side.” Tosh was planning on attending a workshop near Seattle Center.
“I think it’s important that we use the momentum of this movement to get people more politically involved. I’m from New Orleans and I’ve been marching for AIDS research, against Apartheid, for equality my entire life. I think we need to take the moment and turn it into political action.”