The hosts of the third annual Women’s March in Brookings and Port Orford, slated for Jan. 19, hope to bring unity and discussion to issues facing citizens from the local to national levels.
Teresa Shook of Hawaii proposed the first Women’s March as a protest of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. The first marches, attracting millions of participants, were held around the world.
But other communities have since embraced it as a means of educating people about an array of challenges that face everyone from small, rural towns to sprawling metropolises.
“It morphed into something that just goes on forever,” said Teresa Lawson, who is helping stage this year’s march in Brookings. “It’s just about the issues. It’s not just for women; it’s for women, men — our communities.”
The event in Brookings begins Jan. 18, with sign-making from noon to 5 p.m. at Curry County Democratic headquarters, 619 Chetco Ave. The next day, participants meet at the office at 10 a.m. and march north down Chetco Avenue and back.
Port Orford’s march, hosted by Indivisible North Curry County, begins at 10:30 a.m. at Battle Rock Park on U.S. 101 between Jefferson and Deady streets. It will be followed by a rally with speaker Shannon Souza, who ran for state Senate last November, in the library’s Freedom of Speech room.
There, marchers are celebrating that 127 women are now serving in the U.S. Congress, 28 percent of state governors are women and that the voices of women are being heard.
But they are also protesting for the release of children held in detention, inhumane treatment of people at the Mexico border and against an administration that denies climate change and that values profit over the health, well-being and the future of its citizens, their posters read.
The first year attracted 270 people in Brookings, Lawson said. Last year was down to 200 and this year, Lawson hopes to get more participants than ever. Port Orford’s first event drew hundreds to the street.
Crescent City isn’t holding a women’s march this year, and others were canceled across the nation due to planning and logistical challenges. Planners in Eureka, California, had also canceled their event, noting it lacked diversity and would be “too white” but that event is back on the calendar.
The issues today
The Women’s March has evolved to address, educate and encourage participation to solve the problems facing Americans today.
“This is not a protest march,” Lawson said. “It’s an empowering march. We’ve got issues as a community, and marches like this promote awareness and educate people on the challenges we all face. And it’s fun.”
A child of 1970s era of protests, Lawson also believes women are effective in solving many issues of the day.
“Women sometimes make things happen in a different way than men,” she said. “MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) is a perfect example. It took mothers to get laws enforced, to get drunk driving addressed. We forget. It wasn’t that long ago, that we were not punishing people who killed people while driving drunk.”
Lawson ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Brookings City Council, but her platform encouraged government to listen to the people and citizens to engage in government.
Lawson hopes to be among those who bring attention — and action — to health care, housing, middle-class economic recovery, daycare and forest, river and ocean protection, issues that affect men, women and families.
“Women are usually managing health care in families,” Lawson said. “And we definitely have a local issue with access, availability and affordability.
“That’s what this is about,” she said. “Health care and housing are huge issues in our community, and we all need to work together. There are no easy answers. We’re out in the middle of nowhere and we have a struggle to provide for these things.”
She cited a local woman who had to have a tooth pulled and was forced to go to Grants Pass to have the simple procedure done in a timely manner. The story is a familiar one to residents — particularly veterans — in Curry County.
Another issue that goes unnoticed except by those who are affected is the lack of daycare in Curry County, according to Lawson.
“That’s another big women’s issue,” Lawson said.
She knows of a Brookings grandmother who has to drive to Gold Beach every day to care for her 18-month and 3-year-old grandkids.
“They cannot find a babysitter in Gold Beach. They can pay for it, and they can’t find anybody.”
The list of issues affecting America is long, Lawson said.
“We’re still fighting those battles, but sometimes you have to push, speak out, educate people, that these are still issues,” she said. “We’re always going to have issues in this country. It should be encouraged that all citizens stand up and voice their concerns about them. This is the American way.”
She wants to emphasize that the march is not about division, but working together to improve the community and peoples’ lives.
“It’s about women, men; left, right; white, green — it’s about uniting people and giving them the power,” Lawson said. “People enjoy having a voice, they enjoy participating. And we’re kind of at a place where we need to be engaged more.”