Charleston residents show solidarity in Champaign

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Analicia Haynes

Ashley Denton, a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a sign in support of women’s rights at the Women’s March in Champaign on Saturday. Denton said she felt empowered by marching and was excited to do so. “This is the time to rise up and do something,” Denton said.

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor

 

It was 10 a.m., and already a large, overwhelming crowd swarmed the West Side Park in Champaign.

Strangers became friends as people leaned up against trees and statues, creating signs with Sharpie markers and poster boards that bore the common thoughts shared by many advocates across the nation Saturday.

“Love Trumps Hate,” “Not My President,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights,” and “I’m with Her,” covered the signs and fueled the chants Saturday in Champaign as 5,000 people gathered to support and participate in one of many Women’s Marches across the country.

This included several supporters from Charleston who joined others in solidarity for women’s rights.

Jo Stauder, a senior sociology major, made the nearly hour-long trip to Champaign, with several friends.

Stauder said the march acts as an important statement from a large group of people about the recent presidential election.

Even more so, Stauder said the march was a space where people acknowledged there is work to be done and show people who are actually doing it.

Musicians and speakers rallied the crowd to inspire them with words of support, determination to keep fighting for rights and to finish what has already begun.

One speaker, Rep. Carol Ammons (D), who represents the 103rd district, encouraged participants not to be silent any longer.

There was emphasis on the importance of also fighting for the rights of minority women.

“Feminism, historically, is a little bit exclusive, and sometimes it gets a little bit what we call ‘white feministy’ — where trans people aren’t included, people of color aren’t included, and people today were making an effort to be more inclusive,” Stauder said.

Stauder said they thought it was cool that there were a few speakers of color as well as advocates for trans rights in the crowd.

The crowd wrapped around one half of the park, waiting patiently to walk, but they still showed their support and motivation as they held up their signs, played music and cheered.

The last set of marchers did not leave the park until 1:30 p.m. to make their way around the designated route, about an hour after the speakers finished and the march commenced.

“I wanted to make the effort because I want to protest,” Charleston resident Karen Armstrong said. “I’m sickened with the situation right now. Women’s rights are important, and I want to be visible and have my voice be heard.”

Lauren Rhoades, an Oconee resident from Southern Illinois University, said in today’s political climate, women are being shut out just for being women and are told they are crazy for their beliefs.

She said they are angry at the country for treating women as such.

“Didn’t the suffragists work hard enough for us to get a little bit more than this today?” Rhoades said. “I thought this was the future.”

Kevin Gaither and Donna Wieck, both Charleston residents, made the journey together to show solidarity and unity for all people, including women.

“It’s amazing to feel a positive vibe from so many people who really just feel some connection with each other and what we can do together and not tear anyone else down to make that happen,” Gaither said.

Wieck said she was happy with the big turnout and wants everyone to keep doing demonstrations as the year goes on.

 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]