15,000 participate in Nashville Women’s March

Rep Brenda Gilmore speaks at Women’s March.

More than 15,000 people, women, men and children, came together and took to the streets of downtown Nashville on Saturday, January 20, for the second annual Tennessee Women’s March, entitled Women’s March 2.0: Power Together TN 2018. The assembled group of women, men and children, marched for women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, health care access and more. The second annual Women’s March fell on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The weather could not have been better on a gorgeous sunny day with high temperatures in the mid-60’s.

Tennessee State Representative Brenda Gilmore, who served as chairwoman of the Nashville march, said she hopes the event sparks change in communities long after the march is over.

“Today’s demonstration was a testament to bringing the community together and kicking off yet another year for sustained action,” said Rep. Brenda Gilmore. “The enthusiasm and commitment we saw last year hasn’t faded. People are still deeply passionate about the values of equality and fairness.”

The march was held in tandem with other marches elsewhere, including similar events held across the United States of America and across Tennessee, including Memphis, Knoxville, Johnson City and Chattanooga. A common theme, both in Nashville and across the country and even world, was activism. Signs and chants espoused the need for political action, many of which called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and other various members of the current administration. A number of local campaigns also came out to support the women’s movement, from judges to senators to gubernatorial candidates.

Prior to the march, more than 800 participants gathered at Tennessee State University’s Avon Williams campus for a conference on activism and civic engagement. Guest speakers lectured on topics including artivism, faith and spirituality, grassroots organizing, youth, legislative skills and issues, understanding elections, and a federal and gubernatorial candidate forum.

Protest signs seen at the march.

“Beyond simply showing support for women and the programs that help them succeed, we wanted to give participants the tools and training to effect meaningful change,” said Francie Hunt, executive director of ‎Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. “The conference and march allowed attendees to foster a sense of belonging and be in a supportive space for learning. It’s heartening to see our community proactively moving forward with a vision of social change to support every woman, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability or citizenship.”

Starting at Public Square and rallying at Bicentennial Mall, the crowd organized in support of myriad issues facing women.

Thousands gathered in the Nashville Public Square on Saturday afternoon, carrying signs and flags with slogans like “grab them by the midterms” and “today we march, tomorrow we run” to celebrate the second annual Women’s March. Their signs championed topics ranging from reproductive rights and wage gaps to environmental justice and immigrant rights.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry spoke to the crowd at Public Square Park. “My message today is really simple: that we all need to be using our voices and the power of the vote to make sure we are expressing what we want to see happen in our community,” said the mayor.

The crowd then marched from the square to Bicentennial Park, where poets, musicians and speakers performed and voiced their concerns and opinions surrounding the rights of women, racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities and a number of other underprivileged groups in the current political climate.

“We want the message to go out to all the women and even men who support women and women’s issues, that we want them to vote and we want them to run,” said Rep. Gilmore. “When women run, they win. And we want to encourage them and empower them so they can go back into their communities and make a positive difference.”

Nationwide the “Pink Wave” has inspired hundreds of women to run for high elective office at the federal level and governor. 389 women are running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 49 women are running for the U.S. Senate, and 79 women are running for Governor.

“There is work to be done, there are songs to be sung,” said Grammy-nominated singer Halsey at a New York City Women’s March event. “Lord knows there’s a war to be won!” The 23-year-old singer delivered a free-verse poem to a crowd recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with those strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. In her nearly five-minute performance, titled “A Story Like Mine,” the singer recalled several moments when her life was changed by assault or abuse.

Complete text of Women’s March Chairwoman Brenda Gilmore’s (prepared) remarks

Sisters, we are Fired Up and Ready To Go!!! We are women – Hear us Roar!!!
It is a beautiful sight – Seeing Women standing shoulder to shoulder. We are taking to the streets this day because we are tired – no we are fed up with our rights being trampled on:
• Reproductive rights
• Wage Gaps
• Environmental injustice
• Immigrants’ rights
This movement is more than a march – No, what comes tomorrow and the next day and the next day – we are moving forward with a goal to support every women. Every woman is important regardless of your race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability or citizenship…. And yes, who you choose to love.

We ar done being silent!! From this day forward, we are speaking out for our own wellbeing and for those women who cannot speak for themselves.

As we go from this place, the Call to Action is for us to work and struggle together with a renewed sprit of unity, as we power together to protect our communities, elect official who look like we do, change our communities where we all are accepted and valued.

As Oprah so elegantly reminded us – This is a New Dawning!! We are Sisters!! We are Family!!!

Today is about solidarity!! It is about unity!! It is about YOU and Me! This is warning – Time’s Up!! No more sexual harassment!!! No more assaults!! We want equality for all women. When one woman hurt, we all hurt.

Let’s take a lesson from Alabama and Virginia. We love our men, but if we have to, we will save the day. This is the Clarion Call – Sisters, go forth from this day and mobilize your families, your churches and your friends to exercise our democratic rights.

We have the power – Power Together!!!

We can change the world. We must begin TODAY – organizing and galvanizing our communities. It will take all of us on the front lines building and growing the movement on behalf of generations of girls to come.

And, believe me – our best days are ahead. We have the Power – Power Together!!!

By the lyrics of Helen Reddy
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
’Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
’Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Oh yes, I am wise
Yes, I’ve paid the price
I am strong
I am invincible

I am woman

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

PLEASE REPEAT AFTER ME:

I am wise
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
I am woman
We have the Power – Power Together!!!