Seneca Falls Women's March Draws Thousands Worried About Losing Rights in Many Areas

Jan 20, 2018

The two takeaways from being at the Women's March in Seneca Falls Saturday were the thousands that took part; and the many, many concerns people came out to voice.  

The village credited with being the birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement drew 10,000 for a march in 2017, seen as a protest for the newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.  This year's gathering drew every bit the crowd and opposition to President Trump's policies and decisions, along with personal criticisms were widespread.

Sherry Treadwell came from Rochester, with a sense of duty.

"I believe that especially as a woman, in the times we're living, we need to stand up for all of the injustices we've endured over the generations and it's time for us to stand up and be heard."

Pink hats, signs touting issues and movement, points of view and solidarity, crowded Seneca Falls streets Saturday
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Treadwell, a teacher, says it's important for educators to empower young people to get informed and speak up for their rights.  

Christine Louster came from Clyde, and says she had to come because she grew up in the 1960's.  She was glad to see the thousands that came out to the march, because she's worried young peopel might not be engaged, especially if their middle aged parents just get too busy to be involved in change.

"For me, I'm most concerned about the environment.  I'm very concerned about our immigration system I don't know if (President Trump) has paid attention but it's an aging democracy we have.  And we need more immigration, not less.  We need people that will be here to take care of us."  

Louster was handing out voter registration cards, encouraging people to use the ballot box for change in local races, then at the state and federal levels.

Juanita Perez Williams spoke about prejudice she felt during her campaign for Mayor of Syracuse
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Juanita Perez Williams from Syracuse recalled experiences from her recent run for Mayor, in which she says she encountered the emboldened discrimination and prejudice.

"Racism and sexism are int he boardroom, at the gym, in politics.  I felt it, I heard it and it was amazing that it was happening in 2018.  But I want to make sure that my voice is for all women ... who would never have an opportunity to be here with us, because they're mopping floors and picking grapes ... and they'll never have a voice."  

Williams urged people to make a difference in a workplace, community or in politics.  She says people don't have to always agree, but to stand up for basic human rights, just as the people who are celebrated at the Women's Rights monuments in Seneca Falls did years ago.

Michelle Casey, head of Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, also urged people to get involved.  

"Understand the issue.  Work to de-stigmatize abortion; understand why and who gets abortions.  Shed your judgment.  lift up the importance of contraception, push it into daily conversation.  It really impacts all of us.  Talk to people, especially people who don't agree with you.  Listen to women.  Especially listen to women of color.  Every barrier we talk about is a bigger barrier of women of color."  

Casey told the crowd she expects the Trump-Pence administration to continue, what she called an assault on women's rights in 2018.  She listed a collection of measures she's working on to ensure women's health and reproductive rights.  

FEDERAL LEVEL

  • Attacks on Planned Parenthood, six such votes were defeated it he past year.
  • Attacks on Title X program for women who don't have money to pay for care, including birth control, concern screenings and HIV care
  • Tax reform impacts on Medicaid, due to the need to reduce costs of entitlement programs.  

STATE LEVEL

  • Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act: to cover birth control and emergency contraception
  • Roe V. Wade to be codified into State Law as part of State Constitution
  • GENDA, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression

The gathering drew several small groups that wanted to voice opposing or alternate views.  Some chanted. "Pro Women, Pro Life" while carrying signs saying, "Pro-life supporters vote."

Amber Renslow (L) and Maggie Sciria of Auburn came to the march
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

The march included participants of wide age ranges, a number of couples and families, even pushing small children.  High Schoolers Maggie Sciria and Amber Renslow felt they had to participate. ... and were motivated by their feelings about the President.

"To choose a president who had no political experience, who's been abusing and manipulating women his whole life was a bad move by the electoral college.  And I think it just shows that America really needs some fixing up," said Renslow.  

"The scariest thing is I go to high school and I see boys that I go to school with and they're Trump supporters," added Sciria.  "It's honestly so scary that these are the men in my generation; these are the men that I would marry, that my sister could marry, and they're bigots."

One indication of the size of the Women's March was that the first marchers completed the 3/4-mile, square parade route before the last thousand or so marchers even started.