The Women’s March was initially a protest against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. But now, organizers in Reno say their goal is to empower women in a variety of ways. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck talked to activists who marched over the weekend.
Participants flooded Virginia Street, marching to bring attention to many issues facing voters, including climate change along with reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. Local candidates and representatives for all of the Democratic presidential campaigns were on the ground, including Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson.
“I want to put out another call to action because you guys went above and beyond two years ago, and that's to continue to elect women, to continue to elect women of color, and to continue to push the boundaries of inclusiveness when it comes to electing people in Nevada, so that our political bodies can represent our communities,” Benitez-Thompson said.
Benitez-Thompson was part of the first female-majority legislature nationwide. She wants to see underrepresented Nevadans at the polls this year, like communities of color and youth.
“I think the Reno’s Women's March is a perfect example of how you build up energy, re-engage people, [provide] constant outreach to those who are disenfranchised to remind them that, you know, being an American means having that right to vote and do not cede that right. Of all the rights you have, and all the rights [that] are granted and given, never cede your right to vote,” Benitez-Thompson said.
Reno resident Erika Reed is already talking about the importance of voting with her young children.
“I think being a woman of color, it's something that I really don't take for granted. Every time we go and vote or caucus, we always try to take our kids and really stress how important it is, and what it means and that people fought for our rights as women. I know its cliché, but people died for us to have this right,” Reed said.
Reed said the most important issues to her family are healthcare and climate change. She also wants a new president.
“It starts with caucusing, just having the same energy [with] caucusing, going and voting, and just hopefully getting Trump out of office is the goal, so we'll see. Just staying active, politically active,” Reed said.
She isn’t alone. Many marchers sported anti-Trump signs and were vocal in their objections to his presidency.
But organizers, including Jackie Shelton, are encouraging people to focus on what’s next.
“All these people march and you get fired up, right? You're walking, and you're fired up, and you're like, ‘Okay, now what?’ So, it can't be just: fired up, march, go to lunch. It needs to be about, come talk to somebody. That might mean writing a check and that's fine, that's great, but it also might mean, 'I want to volunteer for your organization,' or even, 'Here, I might know somebody who would work well, who could be a client for your organization,' ” Shelton said.
Native Nevadan Alisen Olsen attended the march with her mom and has been coming the past four years.
“Having grown up here, I've seen the changes going from, kind of, a Grand Old Party, good old boys' state to being more of a purple state,” Olsen said.
This year, she’s been reflecting on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
“It blows my mind that it's already been a hundred years, and also that it's only been a hundred years. I can't wrap my head around it. We've come so far, and yet, we still have such a long way to go,” Olsen said.
There were men in the crowd, too. Pablo Torres marched alongside the most important woman in his life.
"I'm married to a very strong woman," Torres said.
He held a sign that said, “I march for my grandchildren’s future.”
“This is just to represent that we are fighting for the democracy of our future generation. So, I have pictures of my grandkids here,” Torres said.
Torres says that what we do today will affect the next generation and he wants to make sure this is a better country for them.