Seven women met at Barnes and Noble in Augusta Sunday, hoping to get to know some of the people they would be marching with in the Women’s March on Washington, a grassroots effort to defend human rights, on Jan. 21.

While some Mainers are flying or driving down to the capital, six of the women who met on Sunday talked about how they would get sleep on their two 11-hour bus rides, what kind of bags they were allowed to bring and how crowded the metro stations would be.

They also talked about why they decided to march with thousands of others the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president.

Lisa Covey, of Winslow, said that when she heard about the march, she thought, “Thank God, finally there’s something I can do.”

Nancy Kelly, of Augusta, said she has dedicated her life to working with immigrant and refugee families in central Maine, and now she feels that she can’t reassure them when they worry about the future.

“This is my opportunity to show up,” she said.

Lynn Murphy, of Hallowell, spoke about how the election and recent events have affected the people she works with as a licensed clinical social worker. Some of Trump’s comments have triggered anxiety in people she works with, especially those with a history of sexual trauma.

“Our society is still in denial over its paternalistic structure,” she said. “Really, how many men have I gone up to and ‘grabbed?'”

The Women’s March is a grassroots effort that started as an idea on Facebook to march and rally the day after the presidential inauguration, Jan. 21. After organizers obtained permits for both the march and rally, it has gained international interest. The purpose of the march on Saturday, as laid out by its national committee on the event’s website, is for those who feel threatened by recent political rhetoric, like immigrants, women, minorities and LGBTQ people, to stand up and defend human rights they feel could be lost with the incoming administration.

Organizers estimate that 300,000 people will attend the march, and the police force is preparing for a half-million.

In addition to the march in Washington, D.C., which will start at Independence Avenue and Third Street, an estimated 386 “sister marches” will be held in cities around the world, including in Augusta, for those who can’t make it to the nation’s capital. The organizers estimate those marches, mostly in the United States and Europe but also in Africa, Australia and South America, will have nearly 1 million total participants.

Genevieve Morgan, a march organizer for the state of Maine, said an estimated 5,000 Mainers will be at the march, based on registration and carpool information. The state organizers also raised about $25,000 in donations that helped more than 150 Mainers pay to travel to the march. Nathaniel and Anna Clark, the grandchildren of the late state Rep. Marion Fuller Brown of York, who sponsored a law that banned billboards throughout the state, donated $20,000 to sponsor Mainers and to fund six de-escalation trainings.

Morgan said there is safety in numbers, though she can’t say for sure that something bad won’t happen. Four different branches of law enforcement will be enforcing the event’s permit, essentially protecting marchers’ legal rights to be there peacefully, and the national organizers have also hired a security force that will blend in with the crowd.

“We are determined to have a non-violent, peaceful rally,” Morgan said. While the organizers have taken “every precaution,” she said, they are bracing for the possibility of infiltrators entering the crowd and trying to spark a riot. “We won’t be tolerating any of that,” she said.


Morgan said there has been a common element to people’s reasons for marching.

“People are truly terrified … that the values that they hold dear as citizens are being undermined and threatened by the rhetoric coming out of the incoming administration and the late night bills being passed,” she said.

Many women marching have not done so since the Vietnam War era, Morgan said, but feel they need to now as they see the rights they took for granted — healthcare, reproductive choices, marriage equality — possibly coming under attack.

“Many of my marchers — and I would include myself in this — are extremely patriotic,” she said. “We now have an incoming administration that’s doubting our own intelligence agency, making statements over (Atlanta, Georgia Rep.) John Lewis, and seeming to side with a foreign country — and this doesn’t seem very American to us. We’re all here looking for our Americans.”

In an interview Monday, Lynn Murphy said she decided to join the march partly because of Trump’s statements on women and partly because of the public’s reactions to them — or lack thereof.

“The defining moment for me was when he talked about his power position over women in our culture. I could not believe that people at that point did not choose to disavow from him, because that is what perpetuates so many crimes towards women,” Murphy said. “And people’s complacency about that — the very fact that it didn’t cause people to distance themselves from him — showed me the pervasiveness, that it’s still in our culture. That’s what made me decide to go to the march.”


However, Murphy said, she does want to keep her mind open and try to understand why people voted for Trump.

“I want to understand other people and it serves me no interest — and I don’t think it serves any of us any interest — to be rude, arrogant,” she said.

Murphy voted for independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic primary election because she felt the issue Clinton championed eight years ago in her campaign against Barack Obama had changed. She saw Democrats and the Clinton campaign as “very arrogant” at times, reaffirming the stereotype of the “liberal elite.”

“It was a huge mistake,” she said. “Everyone has a voice. There’s fear there, there’s very real fear on both sides. It’s important to have these dialogues to find out what people are very afraid of.”

Carolyn Jones, a Colby College sophomore studying government, has been planning to attend the march since November. Now, less than a week until the march, she said she feels even more strongly about her opposition to the incoming administration and its beliefs.

Jones is particularly upset about Trump’s appointments for cabinet positions, which she said “have really represented my worst fears coming true” because they are unqualified and would almost always block “the advancement of progressive values.”

Jones is also co-editor-in-chief of Outside Colby, the college’s bipartisan political magazine, which she hopes to use to promote conversations between those with differing political leanings around campus.

“I can’t predict the fight, but it seems impossible to assume that there won’t be something to fight for,” she said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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