Originally published in The Alton Telegraph
ST. LOUIS — A group of Riverbend residents joined voices with a crowd of thousands who gathered Saturday in St. Louis to march against President Donald Trump.
On the first day after Trump’s inauguration, a group of 25 from across the Metro East came together to join the Women’s’ March on St. Louis.
All across the world, people joined together in solidarity to march, protest and rally against the newly elected 45th president. The march began at Union Station and ended in front of the Gateway Arch, with performances by musicians, activist speakers and local poets.
Much like the Washington, D.C., march that grew and organized online, the Illinois group connected using Facebook and organized their participatory efforts with the march in downtown St. Louis weeks in advance. They wore pink hats, handed out rainbow flags and carried homemade signs.
Roxana resident Treva Swain helped to organize the group and said she’s not just marching for herself, but for all the marginalized people in the world who will be affected by the new president’s divisive brand of politics.
“I’m marching for my kids and grandkids,” Swain said.
When asked if this was more of an anti-Trump rally or a rally promoting women’s rights, she said there’s no difference.
“This is definitely an anti-Trump movement and everything he stands for,” she said. “We’ve come so far and we’ve worked so hard for the rights that we have now and he’s threatening to take them all away – it’s unbelievable, the healthcare we have, everyone is going to be affected by that.”
Swain said she hopes that the march will be a way to show the new president that they stand united to protect their rights.
“We are stronger together and we will be there, we will make history – they’re gonna know we’re here,” she said.
Another organizer for the Illinois crowd, Christina Mize, said she started organizing at Bubby and Sissy’s bar in Alton. She came to show he support and let the new administration know that she expects more from a president.
“We don’t want him, he’s not good for us, he’s not going to make America great, I’m scared for my children with that man in office,” Mize said. “He’s not a good role model, not someone for my son to look up to and definitely not a first lady I want my 10-year-old looking up to.”
For some Illinois residents, the march wasn’t their first protest. Bob Gill, who brought a djembe drum and provided a marching beat, got his start protesting Vietnam and impeaching Nixon in the 1960s. He says it’s crucial that the new president understands how important women’s right are.
“Women have been given the short shrift in our country for 250 years now or more,” he said, adding, “I might be marching to impeach Donald Trump in the next four years, you never know.”
Joanne Palmer also had experience protesting for Women’s Rights before, during Roe v. Wade. When she compared the two time frames, she said there was definitely more rowdiness back then, but that Saturday’s march was a positive thing.
Of her fellow Illinois neighbors who maybe don’t agree with the march, she asked that people listen first and try to understand before passing judgment.
“We have to stop the hate and just love each other again,” Palmer said.