Women’s March 2018: One year later

A woman stands among the crowd with an “I AM WOMAN” sign during the Women’s March in Cleveland’s Public Square.

Thousands packed Cleveland’s Public Square, creating a sea of pink and celebrating the continuation of the Women’s March.

On Jan. 20, 2017, hundreds of marches took place around the country in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. This year, the march took place exactly one year after his official presidency.

The Cleveland marchers were there to stand in support of equal rights, immigration and reproductive rights. Many demonstrators, such as 20-year-old Lauren Morales, were there in response to the current “#MeToo” movement.

“I wasn’t going to come this morning, but then I thought about work and my boss,” Morales said. “Recently there have been issues with my boss being inappropriate, and when I contacted the Human Resources department, they responded by saying that’s just his personality and how he is.”

Morales felt it was necessary to attend and stand in solidarity with other women who share a similar experience.

The “#MeToo” movement garnered a lot of attention in 2017 after many women and a few men came forward about the sexual assault they faced in the workplace. The movement also led to the resurfacing of the “#TimesUp” movement that originated in 2006.

Other attendees reiterated Morales’ message as they marched with hand-made signs reading: “My body. My choice,” and “#Timesup.”

Betty Sutton, a Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov. and speaker at the march said she believes last year’s march inspired more women to stand up and speak out against sexual harassment.

Mary Gibson, a retired school teacher, said the “#MeToo” movement worries her.

“We really need to be very careful with the men we’re accusing,” Gibson said.

Along with other critics of the “#MeToo” movement, Gibson fears accused men are wrongfully seen as guilty following an accusation.

Mike Chrobot, a retired carpenter, attended the march with his wife Kim Gladden. They both agreed that women’s rights are human rights and were happy to see so many people showing support for the movement.

Amanda Maldonado, a Cuyahoga Community College student in her final semester, said the march made her feel more assured.

“The solidarity here is incredible,” Maldonado said. “Sometimes I get scared because it’s a ‘man’s world,’ but it’s great seeing all the people standing here and getting involved.”

For Nancy Schultz, participating in the Women’s March means strength, unity and making her voice heard.

“People don’t agree with the direction federal and state politics is taking,” the 59-year-old social worker said. “We need to make our voices heard.”

The demonstration started off with a variety of guest speakers. Kathy Wray Coleman, a Cleveland activist, opened the event with a discussion on moving forward.

“We’ve had enough,” Coleman said. “We’re standing against racism, bigotry and sexism. We’re not moving backwards. We’re moving forward.”

 Sutton spoke about more women needing to be elected into office.

“Let’s be clear: We don’t want one woman, two women representing one table or tables,” Sutton said. “We need women (to) represent us at every single table.”

Sutton also spoke about power in persistence and how women, black or white, can make a difference in society.

“(Women) are what we need,” she said. “You are the leaders. You are the soldiers. You are what we need to make this happen.”

LaTonya Goldsby, the co-founder of the Cleveland chapter of Black Lives Matter, advocated for inclusiveness within the women’s rights and equal rights movements.

“We need to continue inclusiveness with our community and this movement,” Goldsby said.

Once demonstrators took the streets, they held their signs high and chanted phrases like “we are unstoppable” and “no hate, no fear. Everyone is welcomed here” as people rushed out of buildings to join the marchers and drivers honked in support.

“We’re not here to make history,” Coleman said. “We’re here to make change.”

Faith Riggs is the women’s and gender issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Brandon Bounds is an enterprise reporter. Contact him at [email protected].