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Hundreds Attend Women’s March in Trenton

By Ilya Arbit, Cailee Oliver and Fernando Faura
On May 10, 2017

Hundreds of women, their families and their allies arrived in Trenton on Jan. 21 to participate in the Women's March on New Jersey. The brisk January weather was contrasted by the pink and purple uniforms of the marchers holding various signs. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people turned out for a short walk through the state capital to be heard by elected officials far and wide. This march was a part of numerous sister marches that took place on the same day all over the country and across the world.

“What I do for a living is I teach kids to speak up, and if I can’t speak up for myself, how can I go forward with teaching them?” asked Nancy Asher-Shultz, a South Brunswick resident while musing a rhetorical question, “It’s very important to me that my voice is heard.”

Shortly before 10 a.m., the doors to the Patriots’ Theater opened to allow the participants to fill the internal space. Before long the entire theater, including the overflow room behind the stage was filled to capacity. The latecomers hung around outside and listened intently to the public address system of the proceedings taking place inside. Once the crowds were seated, they were greeted by Elizabeth Meyer, the founder of the Women's March on New Jersey.

 

“Our President's greatest opponent will not be a name on a ballot, a leader of a nation, or someone seated in Congress," said Meyer. "His greatest opponent will be women like me, who will not rest until our rights, safety, health, and families are protected."

A few minutes afterward, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman was introduced and was received with loud cheers as she approached the podium. She said she came to the march because she did not want to be silent and was making a promise not to abandon anyone.

"This is my country. This is the country where I'm expected to be protected, given opportunities, and my gender does not change that," said Coleman, "No government shall be in my bedroom or my doctor’s office."

Director of the ACLU Diane DuBrule introduced Dr. Dalia Fahmy, who studies the hate and segregation Muslim-Americans deal with in the country at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University. Dr. Fahmy noted that the public is debating whether Muslims should be given equal opportunities in the current political climate. However, she explained that Muslim American women are the highest educated minority group in America and clarified that nothing will stop women from rising because of who they are.

"We must continue to fight for a government that represents us," said Dr. Fahmy, "Our president wants to go back to the old ways of America, but women do not have the luxury to go back at all."

As the Women's March on New Jersey took the message to the streets, people of all walks of life and ages walked together in solidarity towards the steps of the New Jersey Statehouse.

"We stand here today all united to say that we will fight back against Donald Trump and we will fight to protect women's rights, healthcare, and the environment," said Jamie Zaccaria of the Sierra Club.

Nonetheless, while organizers admit that the rhetoric of President Donald Trump's campaign influenced their decision to organize the march, they do stress that this was about issues that are larger than the inauguration of the new president and was meant to be inclusive in peaceful solidarity.

"It's a positive message to send, and it really shows our empowerment," said Michelle Fenwick, a West Monferk resident while marching down the narrow streets of Trenton.

Some of the marching participants finished the march feeling more inspired and hopeful for what the future may bring. Resolutions of becoming more involved, staying vigilant and being informed were the key takeaways from the gathering of passionate New Jersey residents.

“I’m going to be a citizen activist,” said Lisa Josepa, a Lindenwall resident, “The greatest hope I have is [that] everyone here today stays engaged and active moving forward.”

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