More than 100,000 attended Women's Marches around the Bay Area this Saturday — in big cities like San Francisco and smaller towns like Walnut Creek, Pacifica, and Sonoma.
Marching bands, giant puppets, and parents pushing babies in strollers filled the streets.
Like last year, marchers donned pink pussycat hats and carried signs critiquing Trump and his policies on immigration, healthcare, and taxes. But this year, protest signs also captured the message of the #MeToo movement, calling for an end to sexual violence. Some participants made connections to local and global issues — from the Bay Area housing crisis to climate change.
We sent producers Asal Ehsanipour, Lilia Vega and Christine Nguyen to marches in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose to find out how Bay Area residents think the march — and the country — has changed in the last year and what changes they still want to see happen.
Here’s some of what they told us:
Pat Campbell, 68, from Marin:
“This is my first march ever. I've never been politically active at all...When obama was elected — i’d read his book about the politics of hope or whatever — and I had thought that our country had come so far as far as racial equality, gender equality and so forth down the line. And what Trump has done in his divisive manner is showed us the underbelly of America. We haven't come as far as we should have.”
Ashley Eastman, 23, from Castro Valley:
“I’m here to march mainly for our victims and our survivors of sexual abuse and assault, also to support the indigenous peoples rights and also to support the movement of the missing and murdered indigenous women.”
KALW: what's changed do you think in the last year? What feels different for you right now?
“I think a lot more women are speaking out against different kinds of abuse that they have experienced — whether it’s in the workplace or just day-to-day. I think there’s just this sort of momentum that’s been going that’s been great.”
Sue Barberi, 94, from Sunnyvale
“The big issue is that we have a president that doesn’t understand what the American people are all about, the good people they are, how we care so much about each other, how much compassion we have for each other, and how we love our country. And I’m so insulted, the way he talks about immigrants, because I am the daughter of immigrants who worked real real hard during the depression. And we survived, and I want to give hope to everybody, just as I have survived.”
Sathnam Gill, from San Jose:
"My name is Sathnam Gill. I’m one of the Sikh here in the city of San Jose. Our divine father, our guru, 500 years ago, he wrote in our holy book, ‘Don’t bad-mouth women.’ They’ve given birth to emperors, you name it. Don’t do that, Mr. President. Women are the one who have given birth to all humanity … They’ve given birth to scientists, they’ve given birth to astronauts, they’ve given birth to leaders, and yes Mr. President, they’ve given birth to you also.”
Kairav (7) & Kavita Patel (40), from Fremont:
Kairav: “I’m here to support women and i believe in science and the earth and taking care of the earth. My sign is about supporting women. It’s a poem that i made myself. — ’The world can be a cruel place sometimes but no matter how strongly the world is against us, we women will rise.’”
Kavita: “I was with my friends last year and this year i was inspired to take my kids. I saw how many kids were there last year and they’re really aware. I don’t think anyone is not aware these days. So I wanted them to get involved and its part of history. I wanted them to know it’s important. I feel like last year just set off a wave of revolution for women. I mean because of last year’s march, there was so much awareness created. The #metoo movement, and time’s up and standing up across awareness and women supporting different cultures, and different cultures supporting women and lgbt rights, and it’s just across the board. It’s been amazing.”
Felix Duley, 15, from Fairfield:
“I’m marching for just all around equality, and I think it’s sort of screwed up, everything that’s been going on, and I think the reason why I march is very similar to everyone else’s reasons. We’re just tired of having to have all these issues in the first place.”
KALW: Can you describe some of your feelings since you’ve been here at the march?
“I mean my first reaction is I almost wanted to cry, it’s amazing seeing all these people that are so passionate, and seeing people bring their kids is like, really cool because you’re introducing your kids to these ideas that can help prevent this from ever having to happen in the future. So overall I just feel really inspired and amazed by everyone’s reactions to it.”
Monica Colletti 46, from San Jose:
“I was in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March last year. I am happy to see it wasn’t a one-time event that has kinda fizzled out. It has grown and strengthened in ways that we see in the media, and in response to so many of the issues affecting women around violence and harassment. And so I think it has evolved into something that’s not just about the current presidency, but is really about empowering women in all areas of our lives.”
Catherine Jester, 62, from Lafayette:
“It seems that there might be fewer people than last year, but I think people are more focused. … they’re going to do something, they’re not going to go home and forget about this. I think sometimes people feel alone in their anger and their frustration, cause I have. But then you come here and you go, okay. Okay, this is a movement, I’m not alone.”
Sarah Watts, 61 years old, from Berkeley:
“I think last year we were … shocked. It was more a feeling of shock and grief and coming together as you would after a tragedy to be together. And this feels more like coming together to work. I think we’re unfortunately getting a little used to this. But … realizing that it’s not just a one-time deal. This is kind of an ongoing issue, or set of issues. Feels less like a surprise and more like a long slog right now.”
Amirah Tulloch 19, from Daly City:
“I attended the Women’s March in San Francisco last year. I feel that the Women’s March this year is different because then, there was a lot of vitriol and anger. I feel like now is more of a time to band together in the face of what we’ve now seen of the Trump administration and kind of reband and refocus our energy and attention towards the 2018 election and really making progress in the face of all the changes that are now being made in America.”
KALW: What are some of the things that you are doing to change policy?
“I have been really big about voting, especially in youth communities ... I’m actually a part of my school’s student government. (Skyline College in San Bruno.) And an initiative we passed was voter activity day where we inform youth of the policies that are being passed through in the White House, locally, where they can vote, how they can register, who’s running, all of that kind of thing. So we actually have an informed voting base of future voters so that they’re coming into the 2018 election and the 2020 election actually knowing what the policies are and knowing who oh how they can vote and make a change.”
Black Star, San Francisco:
“I think people are maybe more angry than last year. I think last year there was frustration and a really strong sense of disbelief. I think there’s a sense of hope, there’s a sense of people gathering, but more than that, there’s a sense of anger. I hope it means something. I hope it means hope.”
KALW: What’s changed for you in the last year?
“Well being a native woman — I came up always being stepped on. You know? And i don't know if it has to do with my age or who i'm becoming but i stand back and i see all of us are being stepped on. You don't have to be a native to be stepped on. You don't even have to be a woman to be stepped on. You could be anybody and they will step on you. You know? They’re pushing fear. They’re controlling people with fear.”
Cierra Green, 24, Oakland:
“What’s my impression of the march? We have folks on stage talking about the importance of voting power, we have folks on the stage talking talking about hashtag #MeToo, and I’m going around with a petition to get voting rights to folks — incarcerated folks and people who are on parole, and I’m getting the ‘I don’t feel comfortable signing that petition.’
“So when we talk about #MeToo, when we talk about voting rights, let’s be clear on who we’re talking about. We’re not talking about incarcerated folk, and that’s 180,000 people we’re not talking about. That’s 180,000 people who are black and brown that we’re not talking about.
“And #MeToo, that is an entire population of women prisoners who experience sexual violence on a daily, that’s state-sanctioned with the strip searches, with the cavity searches. And we’re not talking about them in the #MeToo movement.
“So my impression of the march is ... there’s a lot of people here for the pink hats and the show, and to relive their 1960’s Gloria Steinem days; my pussy grabs back power, but we’re not talking about black women, we’re not talking about black trans women, we’re not talking about black men, we’re not talking about communities that are deeply affected. Mostly, we’re talking about you know, white women, who care about their rights.
Last year I was not at the women’s march, I was working at Starbucks and we had a lot of women’s march folks come in. And it seems like—I’m feeling the same energy. There’s an overwhelming amount of white folk—of white women here today. Very few black and brown folk show up. That says a lot.”
“Last year I spoke at the Women's March in San Jose. I was one of the few men and proud to be involved. We spoke about voting rights. Our message was that we really need to make sure the votes are counted properly if we're going to empower women by having them take their appropriate positions as officeholders.
I think there has been a growth, but my concern is that there might be a corporatization of movements currently going on in the United States. So we’re not getting individual leadership but more sort of brand-name activism. So we’re always sensitive to that and just making sure that movements don’t get co opted but rather stay strong and very people powered. I think we just need to pay attention to the people behind the curtain and just make sure that we’re staying true to the cause of the movement and not get lost in bureaucracy within these movements.”
PJ Hirabayahsi, from San Jose:
“I’m a founding member of San Jose Taiko ... We come her in unity, basically to bring uplifting spirit for this march. And basically we are here to contribute to change. I think we’ve had a whole year as individuals to think about that unity, you know in motion for the first time. It was so beautiful. I think what a lot of us walked away from was like, ‘now what?’ It’s more like an initiation. It’s like it’s the, ‘what?’ Motivator? It’s the activator to really kind of create change for the positive and take and break down those old systems that no longer work for us.”
Lauren Hwong 28, from Alameda:
“One of my signs says ‘hands off my birth control,’ and I think last year, just thinking about all the things that are going on just made me really nervous, like where, my rights stand. So it’s just really good to be out here with everyone who has the same sentiments as I do.”
Anita Cadenas Sanchez, from Oakland:
“I’m here because we women must speak out. I’m really sad to see us back here in 2018, but we are, so my sign reads ‘2018: Main Street Reunited We Resist, Proudly We Persist.’ And my poster, if you take a look at it, the letters are made out of people’s faces, so I really want to show that. This is a march of the people, for the people and we are the people and we must resist and persist.”
Jenifer Gomez, 48, from Healdsburg:
“I want women to take that same amazing empowerment feeling we had when we were in DC, Los Angeles, in the big cities, and to know that we still have that power. I think sometimes we get bogged down listening to the news and you get so hopeless and powerless and it's not the way i want my country to be represented or to go out into the world.”
Valerie Hobbs, 63, from Moraga:
“I hope that people turn their dismay into action, I hope that they vote, I hope they show up at school boards and city town halls and mayor races and city councils, and congressman, and senate. I just hope that people understand that they count, that we have to change the face of America from hate. I hope that they understand that we are each other’s support. And, they show up.”