Updated: Nov 22
On Saturday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m., over 400 marches nationwide were in motion. Here in Raleigh, a women’s march was held in front of the North Carolina Museum of History. This year, speakers’ topics ranged from the Black Lives Matter movement to healthcare and voting. The company Soulful Solidarity organized the Raleigh march. Their mission is to highlight being anti-racist and reflect on self-awareness. Speakers at the march included representatives from the ACLU of North Carolina, Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic region and the founder of Saddle Up and Read, Caitlin Gooch. All of the speakers provided inspiring information about why citizens should vote on November 3.
Co-founder of Soulful Solidarity, Morgan Riyami, had a personal reason for marching this year. Riyami stated, “I am marching for all of my family that has experienced racism and I am marching for my husband so that one day he can live in a world where he is not feared for the color of his skin. I am marching for my son so he doesn’t have to.” This march was bigger than just women’s rights; with the political climate heating up due to election season, democracy was in the spotlight more than usual and protesters called for action for all types of injustice. Riyami’s mother and Soulful Solidarity co-founder, Denise Zirker, said, “I am marching for the future of my grandchildren for a more loving world and to send a message to D.C. that we are paying attention and we are voting.” Using one’s voice is crucial at this time. Everyone, no matter political affiliation, has the choice to complete their civic duty and vote.
Zirker also brought attention to what she believes women should focus on in this political climate: “Women have so much work to do and I think the most important thing is supporting and lifting each other up. Each woman is affected by this administration differently and every single woman is important.”
As democracy is thrown into action during this voting season, unity is important during this time. Another marcher stated, “Empowering each other and focusing on finding a common ground is important. Being women is a bond that we all have.” This seemed to be a common theme for the march — people being there for one another during hard times and creating a common strength.
COVID-19 has been a concern for activists over the past few months. Many believe that getting out and protesting should be a priority right now, along with health and safety. When asked how COVID-19 has affected her activism, marcher Melinda Ewbank said, “The only difference is that I wear a mask when I protest along with carrying hand sanitizer and band-aids.” Activists are still doing their best to remain safe while advocating for others. Everyone in attendance at the march was wearing masks. If someone did not bring one, Soulful Solidarity had free masks and hand sanitizer prepared for marchers. Social distancing was also enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among protestors.
With so many different movements going on right now, it is impossible to focus on just one. Yet within many, there is a common theme: voting. When asked about advice for women voters in this election, Olivia Tierney, a marcher at the protest, stated, “Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.” As for another piece of advice that women voters can follow, Riyami reminded everyone, “Get your ass to the polls! Vote early and educate yourself. Ask questions and make your voice heard."
By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer