Local women among hundreds of thousands in D.C. for march

Published: Friday, January 20, 2017 @ 11:54 PM
Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2017 @ 2:40 PM

Thousands are gathered in D.C. for a Women's March

Hundreds of people from the Dayton region joined a massive Women’s March on Washington Saturday to speak out for women’s and human rights and against the conservative agenda of President Donald Trump.

Millions also marched worldwide in sister marches, including one in Dayton. The crowd grew so large in Washington D.C. - more than half a million people - organizers had to change marchers planned route to the White House.

“The resistance is being born,” said Rev. Mary H. Reaman, pastor of Tree of Life: A Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Dayton. “Women young and old and of all colors are here united. It’s electric.”

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Dayton area residents ride Metro in Washington D.C. on their way to the Women's March on Washington

“So proud that I could be there to represent the majority of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump and do not support his vision for our country,” said Jan Underwood of Dayton.

Clara Coleman of Dayton said she came to Washington to help make sure there was a large crowd “so that not just the incoming president knows how many are concerned, but the whole world as well knows there’s a lot of people that are not OK with this presidency.

“I don’t understand how he’s getting away with everything that he’s getting away with and he’s still holding this office and nobody’s putting him on trial or anything,” Coleman said. “There is nothing really about him that is doing me or a lot of other people any favors, or not even just favors, just doing anything to help us, or to even care about us.

Lee Massoud, 63, of Dayton was stunned by the size and diversity of the crowd.

“There was just a real spirit of camaraderie and concern for where the country is going,” Massoud said. “And a sense of empowerment that we the people really can make a difference and I think, by the numbers, the statement got made pretty loudly.”

A Women's March on Washington drew at least half a million people on Saturday

She said there were so many people it was impossible to hear the speakers from her vantage point.

“We’re looking forward to getting online on the bus home to hear what actually was said,” Massoud said, laughing.

But she said one message was loud and clear: that the march must be the beginning of action.

“The expectation is for women to get involved at the local level and to get involved as political representatives. I think the grassroots efforts of the march is to continue on with that,” Massoud said. “Get people involved in politics so they can make a difference.”

These women are headed to the Women's March on Washington.

Libby Wells, 58, of Beavercreek said the people marching were concerned there would be an erosion of abortion rights and overall rights for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“It wasn’t a one issue march,” Wells said. “It was just a really fabulous way to spend the day with people.”

“A march is something to get people activated and get them riled up so they want to participate,” Wells said. “By itself it was just a large group of people. But half the people will go home. They’ll get excited (and get active).”

The Women's March on Washington drew at least half a million people on Saturday

Noleen McIlvenna, a professor of American history at Wright State University, said the group of women she traveled with to Washington intend to return to the Miami Valley and begin recruiting female candidates for office.

“This is a pep rally for organizers,” said McIlvenna, who lives in Xenia. “We’re going to go back to every county in America and start to get organized for the 2018 elections. We’re going to find female candidates. We’re going to find feminist candidates. And we’re going to start changing this country from the ground up.”

McIllevenna’s Wright State colleague, Carol Mejia-LaPerle, said the march in Washington was the beginning of a new movement.

“This is an inauguration for us, to show our support for the changes that are going to happen,” Mejia-LaPerle said.

Teri Schoch, 62, of Dayton said she felt so proud of Americans as she stood among the multitude.

“Lots of smiling. I think that after eight and ten weeks of fear and anger and stress people are happy to be among people and understand they’re not alone,” Schoch said.

Monica Snow, 68, of Dayton said she was filled with “overwhelming hope and joy for our country.”

Heath MacAlpine of Montgomery County said, the march “feels like something that has to be done” and Chris Chifala, 53, of Dayton was struck by the huge enthusiasm of the crowd.

Dayton area residents get ready to head over to the March on Washington. From left are: Barbara Davis, Martha Williams, Donna Laugle, Wendy Rowan

Kathleen Shanahan, 55, of Clayton had boarded a Rally Bus just before midnight Friday with a group of 16 that included her daughters, 19 and 23, and 16-year-old niece. Shanahan said it was worth the long trip.

“It just so important that we stand up and that are voices are heard,” she said.

At least three-sold out buses left from the Dayton area for the march. Shanahan said her bus was delayed when they stopped to pick up some riders from Oberlin whose bus broke down.

“(We) sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of the Dayton riders who turned 80 today,” Shanahan said. “So we have riders from 16 to 80 and everywhere in between. People are tired but excited and there is a great spirit of camaraderie.

“We get on the bus. We ride all night, be at the march all day and we get back on the bus,” Shanahan said.

Other women in Washington indicated they did not believe the marches would change Trump’s views.

“I know this is not going to change anything,” said Shannon Herbert of Dayton. “He’s not going to sit there and say, ‘Oh, no, they don’t like me’ and leave office.”

Rather, Herbert said she wanted the presence of the marchers to signify solidarity to other women.

“I want for people around America and around the world to know we are going to protect them and stand up for them,” Herbert said. “They don’t have to be afraid. America is the America you know and love and we’re here to represent that.”