Courtney Holman is a first-year biology student at the UO, and she attended the Women’s March for Action in Eugene on Saturday, Jan. 20. This isn’t the first Women’s march that she’s attended, but for Holman, the Women’s march in Eugene is different.
This year’s Women’s march in Eugene was organized by activist group Indivisible Eugene. It was one of many women’s marches across the nation. The event began with a short rally at the federal courthouse on East 8th Avenue at 1 p.m., and the mile-long march ended at about 3 p.m. with a brass band and dance performances by Samba Já, a Eugene bateria — a 15-or-more member Brazilian ensemble. Indivisible Eugene’s theme for the march is “power to the polls,” and Lin Woodrich, one of the organizers of this year’s march, said that Indivisible Eugene is working to flip the U.S. House of Representatives to a Democrat majority.
“Everyone needs to vote,” Woodrich said. “It’s so important to vote. I think that was made very, very clear in the last election that voting is so important, and we just can’t emphasize that enough.”
“For this march, the emphasis was on the fact that we, as a movement — the women’s movement — haven’t died down,” said Holman. “If anything, we’ve gotten stronger because of all the women that are now in office and are running for office and are getting into government positions… and I’m celebrating those strides.”
State Representative Julie Fahey, of House District 14 — which includes West Eugene, Bethel and Junction City — also spoke at the pre-march rally.
“The reckless Republicans in D.C. have shut down the federal government,” Rep. Fahey said.
However, some groups disagreed with Indivisible Eugene’s methods.
On Facebook, Lane Community Defense Network said that there are “better ways,” and Lane Community Defense Network criticized Indivisible Eugene for having U.S Rep. DeFazio speak at the pre-march rally because he is a white male.
— GOODWOOD (@sophiewoood) January 21, 2018
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, of Oregon’s 4th district, was one of the speakers at the pre-march rally; however, due to the federal government shutdown, he was not able to leave Washington D.C. and instead spoke via phone. He advocated for marchers to vote yes on Measure 101, the referendum on healthcare insurance premiums tax for Medicaid. American Sign Language and Spanish translation were provided after each speaker.
“As such, we are organizing to raise the voices of all women left out by the March itself,” said Lane Community Defense Network on a Facebook event page for an intersectional women’s protest. At the time of publication, 83 people have marked that they have “went” to the event.
“To the person who tried to keep me and my kids included, I appreciate you,” Rowan Mason said in a Facebook comment on the event page.
Lin Woodrich and Karen Myers, two organizers of this year’s march, said that the march was open to all.
“I understand last year there were men who felt they were not invited or some [people] had even told them they couldn’t come, which was absolutely erroneous,” said Karen Myers, who was also one of the organizers of the 2017 women’s march in Eugene. “We’re looking for support for not only women’s rights and against sexual harassment, but also human rights, immigration rights and religious freedom.”
Some marchers echoed these sentiments.
“The misconception is that the march is just for women,” said Hannah Lyon of Eugene. “But I think we’re here to support all rights. All human rights and all environmental rights because those are being stripped from our communities right now.”
Cathy Ingman, 33 and of Eugene, was marching with her 9-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, to support her fellow women and to be “a voice for everybody.” She attended Eugene’s 2017 women’s march and was “drenched” in rain by the end.
“It wasn’t until last November where I opened my eyes and realized that we’d been asleep for awhile thinking that things were okay and we were on this good path of progressiveness and that all changed,” Ingman said. “It opened my eyes up to realize that things weren’t as good as I thought they were, and I felt like I needed to get out and have my voice heard and be with fellow people that share the same views as me.”
Ingman has been politically active in the past, but she said that it was mostly limited to the bumper sticker on her car. Her daughter has been vocal in her class about President Donald Trump, according to Ingman.
“I see people fighting for their rights,” said Brooklyn Ingman of the march.