Managing Editor, Lake Worth Campus
On Saturday, January 21 many Americans and national organizations marched in national and worldwide solidarity for women’s rights. Only one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions of people took to the streets and rallied to defend the marginalized communities everywhere. “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country” so states the mission of the Women’s March on Washington, a vision that is echoed everywhere including Palm Beach County.
Starting at noon, the Meyer Amphitheater of West Palm Beach was packed with men, women, and children alike. The atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation. Everywhere, people were dressed in pink or otherwise vibrant colors. Some of the notorious “Pussy Hats” were also present in the audience. The pink beanies are so named for their pointed tips that resemble cat ears and were made to provide the participants of the Women’s March with a means of making a visual statement.
The general air was one of unity and friendliness as attendees shared sunscreen, offered umbrellas to one another and pointed out the way to the restrooms. The event started out on a rather lighthearted note – with a call for more toilet paper. The nearby public restrooms were ill-prepared for the sudden large influx of visitors. With the sun high in the sky, organizers could not have asked for a better forecast and the usually temperamental Floridian weather held through with nothing but cool breezes and a few minor clouds for the length of the event.
Speakers of all ages and sexes took to the stage to spread their message. Among them were Congressman Ted Deutch, the Mayor of West Palm Beach, Jeri Muoio, Regional Climate Reality Leader for The Climate Reality Project, Monica Houtz, and founder of the Women’s Empire Network, Daniella Vega. Organized by South Florida Activism, the event drew crowds of around 7,000 people who packed the amphitheater with placards, flags, and banners. “Dump Trump,” “Not My President,” and “Make America Kind Again” were some of the signs carried by the protestors.
Meredith Hoffman voiced aloud the general attitude of attendees with her speech. “Anything less than being here means consent,” she stated, “We are here as a sign of solidarity. It strengthens our resolve to be here and to fight. This administration has not silenced us. This administration has not shamed us.” With his highly controversial approach to current issues such as Obamacare, access to abortion and immigration policies, Donald Trump has not garnered much support with the attending crowd.
Kalebra Jacobs-Reed, a 45-year old native Floridian, also drew loud cheers as she spoke about her struggle with President Trump’s apparent disdain for the invalid. The mother of two disabled children, said, “It really hurt to see Donald Trump flap his hands, because who is he to stand on television and mock disabled people like my teenage son?” Jacobs-Reed was referring to a televised rally in South Carolina when Donald Trump apparently mockingly imitated the impairment of a reporter although the President himself has repeatedly denied this.
Monica Houtz brought forward environmental issues that will be faced in the next four years. Immediately after Inauguration Day 2017, climate change was removed from the White House webpage, she said, before proceeding to highlight the urgency of the situation by stating that “2016 was just designated as the hottest year on record for the plant.” She urged the audience to contact the United States Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio and provided his office number (202-224-3041). Drawing inspiration from cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, she ended her speech saying “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Although the speakers took up most of the event’s time, the program also included musical performances by the Raging Grannies and Mel and Vinnie. Closing the event was Star Fae, the organizer of the rally and founder of South Florida Activism. Sporting an “I Vote Planned Parenthood Action” badge and bright pink sunglasses, she led the crowd in a closing chant: “The people united will never be divided.”