By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The women of Milwaukee united this past Saturday at the Women’s March WI Anniversary Day of Action held in honor of the first ever Women’s March. Together they rallied, marched and supported each other as they made their way from the courthouse down the streets to the Wisconsin Center.
While the National Women’s March took place in Nevada, official celebrations occurred throughout the nation and Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s Women’s March Chapter decided this year to focus on women of color and transformation according to their Facebook page.
The event began at the Milwaukee Court House and featured speakers. Among those who spoke included Senator Lena Taylor.
Sen. Taylor opened her speech with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and Whitney Houston’s “I Am Every Woman.”
“Listen I am every woman,” she explained. “And I’m not bragging but whatever you need, I get it done.”
The crowd responded enthusiastically to Sen. Taylor’s energy. During her speech, she reflected on 2017 and how far women have come, especially women of color and the roles they’ve fulfilled this past year.
She also expressed her desires for the march’s annual occurrence in Milwaukee and across the state.
“When women show up we show out,” she said.
Judge Rebecca Dallet and Alderwoman Tomika Vukovic and 24th District State Assembly Candidate Emily Siegrist were among some of the other political figures who spoke during the rally.
Nancy Yarbrough of Fresh Start Learning Inc., Mayra Jiménez of Voces de la Frontera and Lisa Jones of UBLAC also spoke during the rally. Each woman who spoke encouraged women to follow their ambitions, support each other and to not be afraid to speak out.
“Hold the door open for the next woman who walks through,” Yarbrough said.
One of the crowd’s favorite speakers was an eighth grader, Zion Rogers. A student at Milwaukee College Prep, Rogers also founded NorthStar Action and Cultural Committee.
During her speech, Rogers addressed navigating school and society as a young woman of color. She urged attendees not to be discouraged by the negative words of President Trump and instead to embrace themselves because “we are becoming part of the solution.”
Rogers concluded her speech by “Taking the ‘sh’ out of ‘it-hole,’” and encouraging others to do the same.
Once the speakers concluded, the march began as hundreds of women, men and children navigated through the streets of downtown Milwaukee. As they marched and displayed their signs, cars honked in agreement and cheered them on.
Friends Adrianne Essex, Morgan Devries, Shelby Degroote and Sabrina Bucvich marched proudly along with signs that said, “Females are strong as hell” and “Ovaries before broveries.”
The girls were excited at the event’s outcome and proud that so many people attended. For them, attending the march meant taking part in a historical moment in time.
“I want to be a part of history,” Devries said.
They explained that attending the event meant standing up for women’s rights and making a change that can impact generations to come.
“Spread the word to people you love, to people you don’t know,” Essex said. “Spread the knowledge.”
Although a majority of the marchers were female, there were a few men scattered throughout the crowd such as Remy Mesrobian.
Mesrobian explained he decided to come in part due to his mother who was marching alongside him. However, he added, he regretted not participating last year after seeing how great it was and was happy to attend this year.
“You have to go against the grain in order to get things done and protests are the best way to do that,” he said.
Other men in attendance included State Representative David Bowen, who viewed the Women’s March as a step in the right direction for not only women but for the nation as a whole.
As the event come to a close, women left feeling empowered, encouraged and above all supported. It’s clear that the positive repercussions of this march will continue to unfold and affect history in the weeks, months and days to come.