By Kristina Dixon
LOS ANGELES — Thousands of Angelenos gathered in support of women’s rights Jan. 19 during the third annual Women’s March LA.”
The starting location was Pershing Square in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Crowded at the intersection of 5th and Hill streets, a wave of women (with some men) holding picket signs filled the streets. Women, men, straight, gay and LGBTQ. Some proudly labeled themselves as “Black Girls Rock,” “Latinas for Justice” and “White feminists.”
The crowd was smaller than in the previous two years. First organized in opposition to the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017, the march drew hundreds of thousands of people in L.A. last year as part of a nationwide series of marches in Washington D.C., Chicago and New York.
The morning started with a traditional Tongva Nation blessing with women with scarves in their hands chanting to drums.
Shortly after, notable speakers hit the stage with messages of hope, strength and power. Speakers included women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, U.S. Rep. Katie Hill and actress and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox.
The state’s first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom — wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom — drew cheers from the crowd when she reminded them that California would increase funding for Planned Parenthood, provide universal pre-kindergarten and increase paid parental leave to six months “to support our working moms.”
“We will make sure that the women of this nation know that we have their backs,” she said.
Topics included toxic masculinity, rape culture, self-esteem, abuse of power by men, protection of reproductive rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, equal pay for equal work, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, indigenous people’s rights and environmental justice.
After a few hours of speeches, it was time to march. Anticipation was the mood. Anticipation for voices to be heard, not misunderstood or misinterpreted. Feminine, yet strong and clear voices with demands and expectations to be met.
Once the march began, participants interlocked hands. Fists and signs were raised to the sky and the empowerment started. As the one-mile route changed block-by-block, so did the emotions. Emotions of control, equality, leadership, excitement and — most obvious — joy.
Registered nurse Pedora Keo, who has worked in the intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center for more than 20 years, attended the march with the California Nurses Association. She said, “As a mother and a woman, I am supporting our patients and our nurses. We are here for our cause. Social, environment and gender. Medicare for all.”
Attendee Susan Canastra traveled from San Diego to march. “We came for women, minorities, the future and the messed-up government office that we have right now,” she said.
Tracee Umenyiora, while holding the hands of two young girls, said “I want women to speak up. I think as we speak up and tell our stories we can bridge fences, differences and be united and stronger as women.
“I want women to use their voices. When you don’t speak, nothing gets solved. I think so many people have hushed us and made us shameful for just being women in general and being second when our voices need to be heard in every situation, in every way and every light,” she added.
Marching to this year’s theme of “Truth To Power,” the marchers showed elected representatives that women are holding them accountable for every imprint they make on democracy. It was a march for mothers, daughters, sisters, granddaughters and anyone who identifies as a woman, understands the everyday struggles and has a solution for them.
This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.