Uniting at Downtown Women’s Rally

"We the People" flag in the air at the Women's March

On Jan. 26, thousands of women marched and gathered together at Halifax Mall, just a few blocks from the William Peace University Campus, for the “2019 Raleigh Women’s March: Women United for Justice,” the third women’s rally since president Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
During the first women’s rally, women said they were going to be showing up to the polls more and speaking out. Many have kept their words, as the number of women elected to government offices nationwide has increased, and activism continues to be popular.

At the beginning of the event, the energy level was high as people marched in with their homemade posters and gathered around to hear the speakers. 
“We have not reached the mountain top,” said rally speaker, Jessica Holmes, a Wake County commissioner.   “We are still dealing with hopelessness, affordable housing, and the fact that we still have to tell people in this country that the “Me too” movement will not be silenced. We have glass ceilings that are yet to be broken. I tell you what, there is but one way to reach the top of that mountain and that is to do it together.”
The theme of this year’s women’s rally was unity and togetherness, bringing people together and defending communities under attack. This included women, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, refugees, and people with disabilities, with the common goal of working for equal opportunities.
“It’s all about giving women a voice and making sure that we accept one another and we talk about issues that are going on and that we are aware of what’s going on,” said William Peace University sophomore Ré Cross.
Not only was this event about equality and women’s rights, but it was also about standing up to adequately funded public education, reproductive health care, common sense gun regulations, to fight for DACA, and to fight for those who feel as if they are not being heard or supported.
“I saw a sign that said ‘Where do I even start,’ so that’s just kind of what’s coming into my mind,” said Women’s Rally Attendee, Brian Valyko.
But Valyko said marching with like-minded people is a better alternative than tweeting or sharing one’s thoughts on Facebook.  Ultimately, he hopes the march will bring more people to the polls to vote.
“Since 2016 we’ve seen more voter turnout and it’s a great way to be involved, ” said Valyko. “It’s just a great way to energize myself and hopefully the base.”
The majority of the writing on peoples’ posters, and the emotion they were displaying, were signs of frustration, anger, determination, and hopefulness, which could be felt and seen all around.  
People could be seen taking pictures with their posters, dancing, cheering, chanting, and coming together. Males, females, families, friends, and even pets were in attendance.  
“Race, sex, any type of ethnicity, ableism, any kind of diversity at all, fear is not a reason to try to pep yourself up as the winner,” said Women’s Rally attendee, Denis Zavaleta. “If you’re in a boat, you don’t want to be the one that is the highest. You want everyone to float or the boat won’t float.”
Zavaleta was at the march with her sons.
“You don’t have to be someone’s wife, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, you already are someone,”  said Zavaleta. “And you need to own that and raise your voice. It makes a difference. People don’t realize how much one voice matters, but it takes one person to change someone else’s mind. It takes one conversation to overturn fear. And let’s be honest, that’s where elitism comes from. Fear of not being important.”
From being sexually harassed, abused physically and emotionally, experiencing sexism or racism within a community or workplace, or not feeling supported or heard, just because of being a woman, the event allowed everyone an opportunity to express their feelings and concerns.  
Whether people have experienced inequality personally, or have a family member or friend to have experienced discrimination and inequality, people want to inform their loved ones about how to keep going in a world where they might feel lonely or left out.
“I’m here to teach my son that a quality person does not fear equality,” said Zavaleta.

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