Women's Marches Across The Country Highlight Numerous Issues

Jan 21, 2017
Originally published on January 23, 2017 9:00 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today is President Donald Trump's first full day in office. In a few minutes, we'll hear what the president has been doing. That includes a controversial visit to the CIA. But we're going to spend some time hearing about those massive women's marches that have been taking place all day.

Women and, yes, many men, and even children flocked to marches in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, among other cities. And there were marches overseas in places like Paris, Delhi and Bangkok. The purpose, they say, is to take a stand for women's rights and against Donald Trump's agenda, as well as the tone they say the new president is setting for the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONNA HILTON: This march is about us, the people, the women in this country, who refuse to be marginalized, sexualized and abused and silenced. March.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH WARREN: Now, we can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back. Me, I'm here to fight back.

MARTIN: Those were the voices of Donna Hilton, an activist in Washington, D.C., and Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was in Boston. We're going to take a quick trip around the country now to hear more about this. NPR's Pam Fessler is here in Washington, D.C. NPR's Ina Jaffe is in Los Angeles. And Sarah Boden of Iowa Public Radio joins us from Des Moines. Welcome to you all.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hi.

SARAH BODEN, BYLINE: Hello.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: Hi.

MARTIN: So Pam Fessler, let's start with you. What was the scene today on the National Mall in Washington?

FESSLER: There were just thousands and thousands and thousands of women, and they were very energized. A lot of them were wearing those pink caps, a lot of - carrying signs - my body, my choice, fight like a girl. The signs were very strident, but the mood there was very, very festive. And I was there yesterday at the inauguration. It was a very different mood.

MARTIN: Now, tell us about some of the things that people said - the people that you interviewed. What was on their minds?

FESSLER: A lot of them said they were very energized by their dissatisfaction with the election results, and they wanted to make sure - make it clear to political leaders, Donald Trump and others, that there are a lot of people in this country who care very deeply about protecting women's rights and reproductive rights, immigration rights, LGBT rights. One woman I spoke to - her name is Kyndall Rodriguez - she was with a group of young women, all women of color, who are law students. And she said that, you know, she feels that every day women are belittled and demeaned and that they're disrespected.

KYNDALL RODRIGUEZ: I'm sick of it, personally. So I came out here with other educated women to come together because, personally, I think I'm a woman first.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Screaming).

RODRIGUEZ: So I march for women. I march for minority rights. And people like...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) No more violence, no more hate.

RODRIGUEZ: ...Donald Trump, they don't respect women.

MARTIN: As we said, these demonstrations are taking place all over the country. So let's go to Des Moines, Iowa, now where Sarah Boden is. Sarah, what's it like in Des Moines?

BODEN: Again, just like Pam said, very festive. People seem to be determined to take a more active role in the democracy. Some people said - I spoke to one woman who told me that, you know, I've - maybe I got a little too relaxed under the Obama administration and I didn't follow through my duty - with my duties as a citizen. And, you know, I'm trying to step up and be more engaged now.

MARTIN: Now, Iowa as a state, went for Donald Trump by a pretty large margin - almost 10 points. Now, you pointed out that a lot of the demonstrators said that they felt that they had not been as active as they could have been or should have been. Did the rally there reflect that? Did some of the demonstrators say - are there - say that they were there in part to renew their commitment to their own politics?

BODEN: People were saying that they wanted to be more involved with this democracy and that they felt like they had to make their voice heard so that the rights that had been gained under, not only the Obama administration, but, you know, decades, centuries passed, will still be here in the future. They're worried that under a Donald Trump presidency progress that has been made will be rewound.

MARTIN: So let's go to the West Coast now where NPR's Ina Jaffe is in Los Angeles. So, Ina, what's standing out to you there?

JAFFE: It - I've never seen so many people in one place in Los Angeles in my life, and that includes sold-out Dodger Stadium. When they marched from Pershing Square, which is where the first part of the rally was, to City Hall, which was where the second part of the rally was, one street could not contain them. There were essentially three separate marches on parallel streets and moving just inch by inch. It was like everyone was still on the train platform just squished together.

And it was an amazing mood of a combination of angry and joyful at the same time because people were really very kind to each other, very helpful with each other. People brought their children, even babies in strollers. And there were older people. Everybody, you know, got out of the way when they needed some room for canes and so forth. It was really a remarkable sight.

MARTIN: Were there any particular issues that people highlighted to you there, Ina, or that you saw reflected in their signs?

JAFFE: Well, certainly women's issues led. There were a lot of signs dealing with reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood, signs that said a woman's place is in the resistance with a picture of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia from "Star Wars." That was one of the things that people were really highlighting - men and women. But they also talked about, you know, women's rights are human rights. They talked about LGBT rights and minorities and religious freedom. And they were standing up for all those things that they say reflect the diversity of California.

MARTIN: And finally, before we let you go Pam, one more question to you. We spent a couple of hours on the Mall earlier today, as well. And one of the things that we noted were a number of people talking about the importance of science. And I was surprised by that. And I wonder what you thought of that - many people saying that science is not a liberal conspiracy, science is truth and things of that sort. I wonder what you make of that.

FESSLER: Well, I think there definitely were a lot of people there who were very interested in the climate and in the environment and want to make sure that there are not any turn backs in that area as well under the new administration.

MARTIN: That was NPR's Pam Fessler here in Washington, D.C. We also heard from Sarah Boden of Iowa Public Radio in Des Moines and NPR's Ina Jaffe in Los Angeles. Thank you all so much for being with us.

FESSLER: Thanks.

JAFFE: You're welcome.

BODEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.