More than 600 marches across the country, including two in the Lawrence area, will make a statement for the rights of people with marginalized identities the Saturday after Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president.
The original Women's March on Washington was planned soon after the November election to take place in Washington, D.C. and since then, cities around the country have put together marches in solidarity with the main march. Two such marches are slated to take place in Topeka and Kansas City, Missouri.
Women’s March in Topeka
The Women’s March on Topeka will begin at the steps of the Capitol building at 1 p.m Saturday and go until 3 p.m. Guest speakers will talk to the crowd about the issues that they care about, said Stephanie Meehan, the event’s organizer.
Meehan said the march is to support people of all marginalized identities, not just women, as the name might suggest.
“I expect there to be people participating who have never done anything like this before," she said. "I expect there to be people who have never felt on the outside of the mainstream, common-place, decision-making that at this time, they do."
The march is also not a protest of President-elect Trump, Meehan said. She said people of marginalized identities have felt isolated and oppressed in recent months, and not just by the presidential race and transition.
“[Trump’s presidency] is not the focus of the march, but that's certainly the call to arms in a sense for these groups to come together and say that their issues are being ignored and it's time to hear our voices, too,” Meehan said.
The march on Topeka obviously has parallels to the D.C. march, with the State Capitol acting as the equivalent to the nation’s Capitol Building. Meehan said the parallels are largely to show solidarity with the national march, but there’s a Kansas connection as well.
“I think, particularly here in Kansas, we are familiar with living under a government that doesn't necessarily represent all the people that live in the state that it's speaking for,” Meehan said. “So I think, in particular, in Kansas, we can really empathize with the nation and understand because we've been dealing with this for years.”
The event will also include a drive for menstrual supplies and will be followed by training on activism at the Historic Fire Station No. 2. More information is on the event’s Facebook page.
Women's March in Kansas City
Another women's march, also in solidarity with the D.C. event, will be held in Kansas City, also Saturday 1-3 p.m. The march will be held in Washington Square Park.
One of the dozens of speakers at the event will be Zoya Khan, president of the University's Muslim Student Association. Khan said she is looking forward to talk about her experience as a Muslim-American at the march.
“This event is an apolitical event, it's more for people to recognize the diversity we have in our community,” said Khan, who grew up in the Kansas City area. “I hope I can share my narrative and hopefully that will allow some people to understand a little bit of what other [Muslims] go through.”
Like Meehan, Khan said the event is separate, but not indivisible from Trump’s inauguration and presidency. Rather, she said, it’s more about a celebration of different identities and a discussion of their experiences.
“I think, again, that this is an opportunity for the community to come together and heal. I think these past few months have been difficult for a lot of marginalized identities,” Khan said. “Even though it’s called the ‘Women’s March,’ it’s for all peoples to come together.”