On Jan. 21, 2017, nearly 5 million people in an estimated 673 cities around the world participated in the Women's March.
Staged on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the march in Washington, D.C., and sister marches across the country went down as the largest single-day protest in American history.
“We were shocked by the election results” that landed Donald Trump in the White House, said Sharon Dohrmann, a co-organizer of last year’s march in Ashland. “(The march) was an emotional response to what a Trump presidency would mean.”
The result, she recalled, was an event that celebrated the lives of women and promoted solidarity among people of all ages, genders, races, cultures, political affiliations, disabilities and backgrounds.
“It was phenomenal to see the solidarity of like-minded people,” said Dohrmann. “It was reaffirming and motivating.”
Dohrmann is one of four organizers staging a sequel to last year’s historic event.
“Knowing what we are up against for another year, maybe three more, we want to keep the energy going,” she said.
The second annual Women’s March of Southern Oregon will be held Saturday in Medford. Participants will gather at Hawthorne Park at 11 a.m. and then march to Pear Blossom Park for the rally, which is set to end at 1 p.m.
Guest speakers include Oregon state Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland; Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Democratic candidate in the Second Congressional District race; Teresa Cisneros, an artist and activist; Jessica Sage, co-founder of ORD2 Indivisible; and Gina DuQuenne, founder and president of Southern Oregon Pride.
Entertainment includes musical performances by the Women With Wings choir and folk musician Alice DiMicele.
Other marches are planned in cities around the country, with the main event planned for Sunday in Las Vegas.
The Southern Oregon march was moved to Medford to “include more people of color and more seniors,” said Rhonda Lee, a co-organizer of this year’s event.
The march “allows all people, not just women, to have a collective experience,” Lee said. “It’s very empowering.”
While this year’s march focuses on political action, organizers stress that it is “a nonpartisan, peaceful event.”
But organizers are upfront that the march is a show of resistance to Trump’s agenda. In Southern Oregon and elsewhere, it will also serve as a vehicle to register new voters, especially women voters.
They have taken a cue from the national theme, “Power to the Polls.”
In addition to promoting the need for women to get out and vote, more women are being encouraged to run for public office.
Dohrmann and Lee are convinced that now’s the time for women to step up and lead.
“We need to reclaim our part in culture,” said Dohrmann.
A passionate advocate of women’s rights for 50 years, Lee said she believes “women’s issues are at a critical mass,” referring to current hot-button topics such as sexual harassment and gender inequality.
“I’ve heard people say that things are getting worse for women … they’re not getting worse, they’re getting uncovered,” she said. “We have found our voice.”
“There is a tsunami … we won’t go back,” Lee added.
The tidal wave, she said, “will change the landscape.”
Drivers should be aware that there will be street closures in downtown Medford to ensure the safety of marchers. Main Street will be closed at Hawthorne and Riverside will be closed at Eighth Street.
— Reach Grants Pass freelance writer Tammy Asnicar at email@example.com.