On the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, around 40,000 activists gathered on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the second Women’s March on Philadelphia.
Saturday’s march is among dozens of protests being held across the country, denouncing the Trump administration’s stance on abortion, immigration, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, police brutality, the #MeToo movement, and more.
Activists started marching from Logan Square to Eakins Oval by the Philadelphia Art Museum around 10:15 a.m. The Parkway was a sea of pink cat-ear “pussy” hats and colorful posters, reading “I’m still here, I’m still nasty, and I’m still voting,” “Viva la Mujer,” and “We need a leader, not a tweeter.”
Carole Metellus, an activist in Philly, said she showed up in support of immigrant communities.
“As a Haitian-American, I have to be here to protest what the White House is saying about us and our ‘shithole’ countries,” she said.” We have given our lives here, our blood here, and commitment to our country. It was important to raise my voice in solidarity.”
Many women carried posters expressing support for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and assault, founded by Philly activist Tarana Burke.
“I would say me too. It is me too, and I’m sure there’s a lot of women here that would also say me too,” said Deborah Cianfrani, a judge for the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
After attending the Women’s March on Washington last year, Cianfrani decided to become more politically active by running for office.
Many people marching for the second time said they’ve been more tapped in to national and local politics this year.
“Silence is not an option,” said Syd Carpenter, from Mount Airy. “I’ve been picking up the telephone, calling my representatives, letting them know that we’re out here, that we’re watching, that we’re thinking about it, that we are building actions and language about what needs to be addressed right now in this country.”
Eve Jensen and Grace DiFilippo are friends and classmates who went to the Women’s March on Washington together. A year later, they’ve been working on making their high school in South Jersey more inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
“I’ve been mostly working within my school, talking to my principal, talking to different teachers about expanding our sexual education program to be more inclusive of different genders and sexualities, especially trying to get bathroom doors changed,” said Jensen.
At noon, the rally portion of the event began, featuring a couple dozen speakers from city government, local radio stations, high schools, and more.
Even though she’s getting married today, Rebecca Rhynhart, the first woman to be Philadelphia City Controller, showed up to speak about electing more women to public office.
“Philadelphia has never had a woman mayor. Pennsylvania has never had a woman governor,” she said to a crowd that chanted “Not yet.”
Pennsylvania ranks 49th out of 50 states in female representation in elected office, according to Representation 20/20, a political advocacy group that works on getting more women to run for office.
Beatrice Caraballo, a Philly radio personality, spoke about how the Trump administration has failed to help the citizens of Puerto Rico. Four months after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, nearly 40 percent of electricity customers remain without power.
“We have fought far too long for our rights, with little to no voice, or no voice at all. We are hardworking, dedicated, and professional,” Caraballo said. “We know very well how legislation and regulations have been placed upon us to restrict our own economic growth.”
Nikki Bagby, one of the March organizers, spoke about changing a system of racial injustice. She is a proud wife, mother of six, and community activist, and talked about a time when she was a teenage mother and needed public assistance to get by.
“I continue to butt up on a system that fights me everyday. The woman standing before you has challenged every statistic that was placed against me, and I overcame,” she said.
Bagby also emphasized the importance of intersectional activism that centers the voices of women of color, who have long been overlooked in the feminist movement.
“This will not continually be a white woman feminist movement. This is a movement that is inclusive of every race, every economic status, every class, every gender,” she said.
On Wednesday, a Facebook post went viral, calling for a boycott of Saturday’s Women’s March on Philadelphia over concerns about increased police presence and security measures that could affect women of color, transgender people, and people in the country without authorization.
At a police media briefing on Friday morning, Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson said the that with any large-scale event in a public space, the police have to provide security. Unlike last year, the police added entry points to the March. Responding to concerns about screenings at the entry points, Wilson said, “We’re going to have visual screenings. We’re not frisking people. We’re not infringing on anyone’s first amendment rights in any way.
LaTierra Piphus, the creator and co-organizer of the Womanist Working Collective, a group that supports black women and black trans women, said she was boycotting the event because she believes a police presence makes women of color and unauthorized immigrants feel unsafe.
“When you look at past and current white-led feminist movements, they’ve been extremely not centering or prioritizing the needs of women of color. It makes it very difficult to stand with them on a lot of issues that impact us all, but also being able to trust them not to put us in harm’s way and being generally considerate that women of color especially don’t have great relationships with the police department,” she said.
Deandra Jefferson, who does public relations for Philly REAL Justice, a grassroots organization in Philly that fights for police and prison abolition, is also boycotting the event because of police presence. But she’s also concerned that the March is too Trump-focused.
“It’s really only coming from one angle, it doesn’t really take into account what we need to do beyond get Trump out. Because oppression didn’t start with Trump. For me, oppression started when my ancestors came here on a boat in the 1600s,” she said. “[The March] is an event where you stand outside and you listen to speakers and then you go home. What are you doing afterwards? That’s really what counts.”