The first anniversary of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., was marked with marches, protests and demonstrations in Lansing and around the nation under the theme of Power to the Polls.
In Lansing, women and supporters didn’t actually march, but gathered Sunday afternoon near the east steps of the Michigan Capitol to show their support for the rights of women, immigrants, and people of all colors, abilities and sexual orientations as well as reproductive, healthcare and labor rights, and against sexual and other violence.
And, as evidenced by the signs, many were protesting against President Donald Trump.
Members of the nonprofit National Council of Jewish Women-Greater Detroit Section stayed away from political statements against the president, said member Suzanne Simon of West Bloomfield. Yet they were proud to be there — more than 40 strong — willing to show their support in other ways.
Crowd estimates ranged from 3,000-5,000 participants, include some men and a sea of women, many wearing pink pussy hats. Children were present, too, carrying signs with their mothers and grandmothers.
Homemade signs were everywhere, ranging from simple slogans to those that were clever or more pointed, such as “We’re nasty and we’re not going away” or “Voting is my super power.”
“People’s ingenuity in making signs was amazing,” Simon said. “There were even vintage signs from NOW (National Organization for Women) from the 1960s, when I marched for abortion rights, education rights and equal rights.
“Also,” she added, “it is always encouraging to see such a large group of people, especially young people and those who brought their children.”
Jewish Detroiters and others traveling with NCJW say they were motivated to take a stand or be part of a nationwide movement. Here are some of their thoughts:
“I’m rallying for reproductive rights. It’s not relevant to me any longer, except in principle, but I demand it for my young adult daughter and all the young people in my life,” said Valerie Dutton of Wyandotte.
“It was extremely empowering to be part of a rally with such passionate and
courageous people, all determined to make change happen now.” — Michelle Budaj
“I wanted to go to this march with my daughters because they are the future. And the way to make a difference is at the polls, which was the theme of the March,” said Nancy Fine of Southfield, who attended with her daughters, Allison and Rachel.
“There are many ways to show that you are passionate and care about an issue,” Rachel Fine said. “I feel connected to the social justice movement through the work I do every day at Repair the World.
“Going to stand with my mom and sister in solidarity with other proud, strong women is another way for us to stand up for what is important to us,” she said.
“I went to the Women’s March to continue to create awareness on women’s rights and unite with others on several issues creating dissatisfaction for so many,” Michelle Budaj of Birmingham said.
“It was extremely empowering to be part of a rally with such passionate and courageous people, all determined to make change happen now.”
Her friend Sala Wanetick of Hazel Park said, “I attended the Women’s March because I think it is important we unite to show our dissatisfaction with the current administration — particularly its views toward women and other marginalized groups.
“I hope the momentum from the marches nationwide can grow through the coming November elections,” she added.
“I am marching today to give Trump this message — that we, as a nation, are united in our fight to defend democracy and our freedoms,” Ruth Zerin of West Bloomfield said.
“The reason I came today to support the Women’s March is because I want a better world for my granddaughters. I don’t want them to face the same issues we face today. We are strong!” Rita Sitron of Farmington Hills said.
“I’m rallying for all women, for equal rights, equal pay, for freedom to make a choice about reproductive rights,” Margo Stocker of Farmington Hills said.
“I am here to show support for women and stand together for equal rights and pay,” Sharon Moss Lebovic of West Bloomfield said.
“I went to learn more about issues the women of Michigan are passionate about,” said Chelsey Eichler of Madison Heights.
“What I took away is that many women, and men, in our state are fighting for women’s equality, reproductive rights, the rights of immigrants, the LGBTQAI community, people of color, those with disabilities and victims of assault.
“The speakers focused heavily on what actions we can take to support those in need, and for that I’m very grateful,” she said.