Sacramento Women’s March to the Capitol

By Leigh Stephens

In 1958, with my new college degree in hand, I, with my new husband, interviewed for a high school teaching position in Macon, Georgia. My husband was offered $3,500 a year, and I was offered $3,000. The school official told me I would receive less money because I was a woman and would probably teach for a while and then retire to home to raise our children.

In my youthful ignorance, having been raised a proper “Southern girl,” I accepted his remarks as a given.
This was my first professional job offer. Not until years later did this negative incident soak into my rebel soul and with the wisdom of experience form the core of my beliefs that women are just as valuable as men.                                        -Leigh Stephens

Photos by George Young

The Women’s March to the Capitol on Saturday, January 22nd was an historic event for Sacramento. According to the Sacramento Police Department, approximately 20,000 people marched through the streets to express their support to save the social programs brought about by the Obama Administration. Women, men and children participated in the march. A bright pink sea of “pussyhats” covered hundreds of heads in the teaming crowd.

Under the threat of the proposed changes under the Trump Administration,  people are coming together to express their displeasure. Although some of the nation’s marches were anti-Trump, the women’s marches are energizing
women to run for office and encouraging women to express their displeasure at program cuts that benefit women.

Many women’s organizations throughout Sacramento and surrounding communities participated in the event. Marching began from various locations about 9:30 a.m., while the rally in front of the Capitol began at
noon and lasted to 6:30 p.m.  Community activists, dignitaries, and entertainers spoke and performed throughout the afternoon.

Nancy McCabe, president of the Sacramento American Association of University Women (AAUW) said, “This march is a powerful time for women and men to come together to express our concerns about the direction government is taking on issues affecting women and girls. AAUW is committed to empowering women and being a leader in equity and education in critical areas impacting the lives of women and girls.  We can’t let progress that has been made in education, pay equity, reproductive healthcare, and LGBT rights slip away.  There is more to be done without having to revisit the issues that we thought were settled.  I am gratified at the community involvement in this march!”

The Sacramento March was one of more than 600 sister-marches throughout the United States, planned to coincide with the Washington D.C. Women’s March on January 21 where more than one-half million people marched on the nation’s capitol.

According to march organizers, the guiding principles are: “ We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

Photos by George Young

Women march organizers affirm, Women’s Rights are Human Rights:

End violence against our bodies.
Reproductive rights belong to women.
Free our society from gender norms, expectations, and stereotypes.
Civil rights are a birthright, including voting rights, freedom of speech, and protection for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability. It is time for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Include disability rights. Break barriers to access, inclusion, independence, and full citizenship participation in our society.
Rooted in the promise of America’s call for “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” immigrants and refugees have rights regardless of status or country.  Migration is a human right and no human being is illegal.
Support environmental rights. People have the right to clean water, clean air, and access to public lands. The environment must be protected, not exploited by greed, especially at the risk of public safety and health.
Pay equity means equal pay for equal work.  Women’s work earns 79 cents to men’s $1.

VOICES FROM THE MARCH:

Ginny McReyolds, Retired Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Cosumnes River College: “It was wonderful to participate in this march.  It was so heartening to see how many people – women, men and kids are simply not going to stand for the bullying and disregard for humanity that seems to be the standard for this new administration.”

Sue Ingle from her wheelchair: “I’m at the march to support women’s rights and those of the disabled. I was so upset when Trump made fun of the disabled journalist!”

Sharon Vintze (helping Sue Ingle with her wheelchair): “I’m here to support the voices for decency and for women’s rights.”

Young mother Isabel Damian holding 18-month old Alia : “I’m at the march to represent women and to take a stand for public breastfeeding.  This is Alia’s first march!” Alia’s dad was with them, supporting his wife and daughter.

Karen Knicriem : “I’m here to support women’s and elderly programs.” She carried a sign that read, “Keep Your Hands Off Obama Care.”

Two sisters from Elk Grove, Darcie Gore and Denise Sismeroz along with Darcie’s husband rode light rail up to the Capitol.  Darcie: “I’m for all rights and not for eroding those in place.” She carried a sign, “Our Rights are not up for Grabs and Neither are we!”

Denise: “I don’t want to have to go back to the 1950’s.  I’m doing this for my daughter and my granddaughter.”

Ruth Burgess: “It was the inspiring and touching message of an 11-year-old girl named Kennedy who received a National Women’s March honor. This little girl put in the simplest terms what the march was about. She said from the time she was younger, her parents and teachers taught her to be kind to others and not say mean things to hurt other people’s feelings. She said it upset her to hear the things said during the presidential election.”

Retired CSUS professor Dr. Virginia Kidd: “I was 14 before women were even allowed to serve on juries in Texas where I grew up. In this march I wore my 1966 Equal Rights Amendment necklace. I think we have made progress, and we will progress more with the kind of support we have with the marches. It’s wonderful!”

Photos by George Young

An estimated 20,000 people marched to the State Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 21. in unity with the National March on the same day in Washington, DC and other cities worldwide. The march drew solidarity with “our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country,” according to the announcement of the march. 

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