Or­ga­niz­ers aim to tap into en­ergy

Event puts fo­cus on first-time vot­ers

Chicago Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Angie Leven­tis Lour­gos

Charles Ham­mer­slough plans to take part in Satur­day’s Women’s March at Grant Park in Chicago and says he be­lieves all men should join the crowd, be­cause the event ben­e­fits them equally.

“Fem­i­nism is about free­ing men from the wounds of gen­der ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Ham­mer­slough, 60, of Chicago’s An­der­son­ville neigh­bor­hood. “It is im­por­tant for boys to at­tend so they can see women in their lives and so­ci­ety as pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal ac­tors. … I par­tic­i­pate so our so­ci­ety will some­day be more in­clu­sive and kind. That’s for ev­ery­one.”

Or­ga­niz­ers say this march and rally, dubbed “March to the Polls 2018,” is de­signed to honor first-time vot­ers —

young peo­ple and im­mi­grants in par­tic­u­lar — who will lead the pa­rade of at­ten­dees and have a chance to cast bal­lots at early vot­ing sites down­town. This is the third lo­cal event of its kind. While or­ga­niz­ers haven’t made any crowd pre­dic­tions, pre­vi­ous Women’s Marches have flooded down­town.

The first rally un­ex­pect­edly drew a quar­ter-mil­lion women and sup­port­ers in Jan­uary 2017, fol­low­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Then the sec­ond Women’s March ex­ceeded that with an es­ti­mated 300,000 par­tic­i­pants last Jan­uary, amid the #MeToo and Time’s Up move­ments against sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault. Those marches were held in con­cert with sim­i­lar events across the globe, while Satur­day’s march is a lo­cal event.

Sara Kuren­sky, out­reach co­or­di­na­tor for Women’s March Chicago, said she be­lieves the march will bring peo­ple to­gether so they can “feel the power and en­ergy that comes from not be­ing alone.”

She hopes marchers will wake up the next morn­ing “and reen­gage, so they will vote in large num­bers and con­tinue to fight against the death of what is de­cent in our coun­try,” Kuren­sky said.

Kait­lyn Hwang at­tended the pre­vi­ous two marches and pre­dicts the crowd will swell again this time — but if it doesn’t, she be­lieves “it is not be­cause of lack of in­ter­est.” She added that many sup­port­ers are busy can­vass­ing and phone-bank­ing, or do­ing po­lit­i­cal work in their com­mu­ni­ties in prepa­ra­tion for the Nov. 6 midterm elec­tion.

“The Women’s March is not a one-day event,” said Hwang, who owns the small busi­ness Art De­con­structed. “It is a move­ment and a re­minder that there is hope. It is not easy to get up ev­ery day and have un­wa­ver­ing pas­sion to fight for (women’s) equal­ity and rights. I show up when other women can’t. They do the same when I can’t.”

STACEY WESCOTT/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

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