AUGUSTA— Police estimate that between 3,000 to 4,500 men, women and children went to the Maine State House on Saturday, Jan. 20, as part of a nationwide ‘Women’s March’ rally held in 35 states in support of women's rights, civil liberties and to encourage more women to vote, and to run for political office.
The rally was organized by March Forth Maine, and co-sponsored by Maine Democratic Party, Suit Up Maine, and Capital Area Indivisible, titled “Maine Women’s March 2.0: Power To The Polls.”
Similar sister marches were held Saturday in Bangor, Bar Harbor and Gouldsboro, while Portland participants of Women’s March-Maine were encouraged to come to the Augusta rally.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets nationally over the weekend amid a government shutdown and on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Authorities estimated 100,000 people attended the rally in New York and 500,000 people attended in Los Angeles.
The event in Augusta began at 11 a.m. with speeches from lawmakers, activists and artists. A number of community organizations set up tables and campaigners worked through the crowds collecting signatures for the Ranked Choice Voting Maine petition.
The march began around 12:30 p.m. with thousands streaming around Capital Park as far as the eye could see before passing the Blaine House and resuming back at the State House for follow-up speeches. The walk was peaceful with only a handful of counter-demonstrators.
The overall theme of the event was about how much women have galvanized their collective energy and power all over the United States in one year.
One speaker, Emily Cain, a former Maine House minority leader and state senator, stood before the crowd and said, “What I saw a a year ago and what I see today are women standing together making a deliberate choice to stand up and to fight back.”
Cain, who was chosen as executive director of Emily's List, a political action committee that started 33 years ago to encourage pro-choice Democratic women to run for office, told the crowd that in 2016, 920 reached out to Emily’s List to run for office.
“As of this morning, I got an email that totaled that number to more than 26,000 women intend to run,” she said to a loudly cheering crowd.
“In the last year, we have marched; we have made calls and and signed our names on petition after petition,” said Cain. “We have stood up and we have shown up and we are not stopping. Did you know 2018 is already being called ‘The Year of the Woman’?.... Women voters and those who support them are poised to transform our politics at every level.”
Lucie Bauer, a member of the First Universalist Church in Rockland, who also attended last year’s inaugural rally in Augusta, held up a sign with her group titled “Standing On The Side of Love.”
“This is all about keeping the momentum going,” she said. “Keep calling and writing to your legislators, and don’t get complacent,” she said. “Keep voting.”
All photos by Kay Stephens.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com