Why the Charlotte Women’s March is back for round two—and thousands strong

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The day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration last January, a crowd of roughly 20,000 people gathered Uptown for the Charlotte Women’s March to raise awareness of women’s rights issues.

Signs of all kinds were hoisted proudly, bearing messages ranging defiant (Keep your rosaries away from my ovaries) to bold (This pussy grabs back) to sweet (Make America kind again) and beyond.

This Saturday, Jan. 20 — one year later — the Charlotte Women’s March will return for its second year to advocate for equity and equality for all peoples; civic engagement; science and education; and women’s health.

“We made herstory one year ago,” reads the Facebook event for Saturday’s march. “We march now because we’re still here, and we’re doing the work to reclaim our country and help it live up to its values.”

Yet a lot of people are still asking: why is the Women’s March back for a second year? 

“Last year, we organized as a small group of five volunteers, wanting mainly (to) provide an outlet locally for our community to march in solidarity with the sister marches around the world,” said Autumn Watson, one of the five volunteers who organized the 2017 march. “A year later… We need to show that we will stand up for women and women’s rights — not just last year or next Saturday, but until something changes.”

This anniversary march will be coordinated by an organization actually called Charlotte Women’s March — not to be confused with The Women’s March on Charlotte, the organization that originally planned the 2017 event. This year, there are 13 organizations working together to coordinate this event, including ProgressNC, The League of Women Voters, the Black Women’s Caucus, and more.

“Though many organizations have been encouraged to be part of the march this year, women of color organizers, activists, and community leaders are still not as present at the table as they should be… It is so important we include as many voices as possible,” said Regina Stone-Grover, who will be co-hosting a forum with her coalition Great Charlotte RISE. “Women of color need to see more of ourselves, and we need stronger advocacy.”

Saturday’s event will kick off with a speakers forum from 10 a.m. to noon at First Ward Park. Participants can look forward to hearing from Mayor Vi Lyles, as well as Yisel Pomier Maren of the Latin American Coalition, Pam Hutson from Lillian’s List, City Councilwoman Lewana Mayfield, and Jill Dinwiddie from Planned Parenthood.

The march will begin at First Ward Park at noon, following a two-mile route to Romare Bearden Park. If you’re considering participating, Watson recommends that you bundle up and bring your sign.

Although this event will be returning for its second year, both Watson and Stone-Grover stress that Charlotte Women’s March is about much more than just the event itself.

“​In the spirit of solidarity and forward movement, don’t just march,” said Stone-Grover. “Volunteer time. Join campaigns. Find ways to keep up with legislation changes. Hold your elected officials accountable. The process is about finding where you can engage, and engaging.”

[RELATED: 7 ways to carry on the momentum from the Women’s March on Charlotte]

When it boils down to it, this march is back for its second year because the women of Charlotte are still fighting for change. As the Charlotte Women’s March puts it on its website, much work remains to be done in terms of advocated policies regarding women’s rights, immigration reform, health care, environmental issues and LGBTQ rights. 

“Our voices are louder when united,” said Watson. “The women’s march isn’t a fad or something that is going to grow weary. We need to march not only for ourselves, but for our daughters and the world we want them to grow up in.”

And men, don’t forget: you’re invited, too.

Click here to learn more about the Charlotte Women’s March, or RSVP for this Saturday’s anniversary march here.

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