Organizers aim to tap into energy
Event puts focus on first-time voters
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