“HEAR OUR VOICE:” Women’s March Contra Costa Anniversary March

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  • While their parents converse, a young girl and boy excitedly blow bubbles that travel throughout Civic Park before the Women’s March Contra Costa Anniversary March rally begins.

  • While marchers cross the street at the corner of North Broadway, the Las Lomas Jazz Combo’s cheerful music pervades the atmosphere and is met with cheers and dancing.

  • A young girl dressed entirely in pink holds up a sign with the words “Girl Power,” written in colorful Crazy Dots markers, on it.

  • Several members of Dr. Rich Oberleitner’s staff put on a spontaneous hand drums performance as marchers pause to dance to their beats in the courtyard outside of Tomatina’s Italian restaurant.

  • A young man dressed in all black raises a rainbow Pride flag above the crowd of marchers, holding a sign advocating for intersectional feminism.

  • Pumping their firsts and raising signs into the air, marchers chant, “This is what Democracy looks like!”

  • Raising a colorful sign with the words “Embrace Diversity” on it, a woman stands in front of her parked car, facing marchers and cheering them on.

  • A man donning a patriotic baseball cap and his infant granddaughter wearing a pink knitted “pussyhat” march forward.

  • Marching down Civic Drive in the center of the crowd, a man waves a large black flag with the word “RESIST on it.

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On Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at 10:02 a.m., several hundred marchers were already present at Civic Park in Walnut Creek, eagerly anticipating the start of the Women’s March Contra Costa Anniversary March, just under an hour away. The song “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer played in the background.

The Women’s March on Washington, a march against the policies of just-inaugurated president Donald J. Trump, took place on Jan. 21, 2017 and was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. On Jan. 20, 2018, marchers across the country marched again, updating their protest based on what has happened in Trump’s first year as president.

Amanda Su

As activists of all ages slowly trickled into Civic Park, groups congregated around tables to paint signs. Near the poster-making tables, a group of children aged under five, all former strangers, played with bubbles under the shade of a tree. Those who were not making posters were sharing what inspired them to roll out of bed early on a Saturday morning and march.

“We want women to have equal rights, equal pay, equal representation,” said husband and wife Clint and Deena, a woodworker and a real-estate appraiser.

Stay-at-home mom Kelly, whose daughter was among those playing with bubbles, shared, “I have a little girl named Violet, and I want her to grow up in a place where women are valued.”

A few minutes later, singers from the Peter Pan foundation began to sing the first few notes of “Rise Up” by Andra Day, ending their set with a spirited rendition of “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” right before the rally preceding the march began.

The Pledge of Allegiance kicked off the rally and was followed by cheers and the national anthem.

One of the first speeches of the rally came from Women’s March Contra Costa representatives Carine Mink and Adina Zinn, who led the crowd in a call-and-response. As they yelled out the various causes that people were marching for that day, marchers yelled back, “Hear our voice,” the theme of the event.

The next few speakers provided personal insight into these causes, among which were the importance of voting in the 2018 midterm elections, transgender issues, electing women to office, immigration, as well as combating islamophobia and sexual harassment.

At around 11:15 a.m., whistles went off, signaling a local Girl Scouts troop to start leading the march.

The crowd, centered around the gazebo where the speeches for the rally took place, slowly moved towards the edge of Civic Park, where the march began. The first sight seen as people exited the park was a six-person band of high school boys standing on the side of the road, energetically playing music for marchers as they prepared to embark on their route.

Throughout the march, marchers cheered as cars passing by honked at them in solidarity. A few minutes after passing the band, marchers approached a street corner where some stopped for a quick moment to dance to the beat of four musicians’ drums, before recommencing their protest.

Several blocks later, a group of young girls, no older than eight or nine, started chanting “Stand up, fight back” with the encouragement of a Women’s March Contra Costa volunteer who, while helping guide both foot and vehicle traffic, yelled, “Good job girls!”

Towards the end of the march at 12:51 p.m., marchers returned to Civic Park, exchanged hugs and contact information and slowly dispersed. A line of children sat on the curb in front of the park, sharing snacks, their signs — covered in unicorn stickers and the words “We Will Rise” — laying on the ground in front of them.

State Senator Nancy Skinner reflected the never-say-die spirit of Women’s March Contra Costa and the marchers in her speech when she said, “Don’t let the backlash that we’re going to experience distract you — its purpose is to shut us up. And we’re not going to shut up.”