Hundreds of people gathered Saturday morning for the third annual St. Louis Women’s March, as a winter storm crept toward the city.
Some, like 23-year-old Mckenzie Eston, attended the march for the first time.
“If you want your voice to be heard, then you actually have to speak,” said Eston, who lives in Cape Girardeau.
The Women’s March is part of an international movement launched in 2017 after the inauguration of President Trump. In the years since its conception, the national Women’s March chapter in Washington, D.C. has faced criticism over an alleged lack of diversity within its ranks. Organizers of the St. Louis Women’s March, however, say they place a high value on all forms of diversity.
Lauren Kohn Davis, a St. Louis Women’s March organizer, said everyone has a role to play in the event, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
“I think it’s important that we show up to stand in camaraderie and to say, ‘While I might not feel what you’re feeling, I can be an ally,’” said Kohn Davis.
St. Louis resident Prianna Winkelmann said the lack of racial diversity among Women’s March participants has been on her mind since the movement first began in 2017. She attended Saturday’s march as part of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action.
African-American women in particular, said Winkelmann, have to cope with the deeply ingrained stereotype of “already being so loud and opinionated.”
But the irony, she said, lies in the fact that many have a hard time speaking up.
Still, Winkelmann said she feels encouraged that more and more African-American women are joining the St. Louis Women’s March each year.
“If there’s another march next year, you’ll see more,” she said.
Like Winkelmann, Kirkwood resident Marie Romano said gun control was a key issue that brought her to the St. Louis Women’s March this year.
Romano bundled up her two young daughters, Molly and Jill, and brought them with her.
“They need to be a part of it,” she said. “They need to see that it’s not just mom and dad who care.”
Marchers congregated in Aloe Plaza, across from Union Station, and walked along Market Street, chanting and carrying signs.
Ruth Ehresman, who lives in Benton Park, marched alongside her friend Anne Ross. The pair has been attending the St. Louis Women’s March since 2017.
Ehresman said the march has generated a “sense of empowerment” and motivated more women to become activists.
“My vision of the world is a place where there is acceptance and equality and social justice,” Ehresman said. “I hope that this march continues to inspire women – young and old – to stand up for what we believe in.”
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