Women United March Fills Charlotte's First Ward Park
Updated: Saturday at 5 p.m.
Crowds packed into Charlotte's First Ward Park Saturday for the Women United March, the third such march since the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017. This year's event was billed as more diverse and less partisan than in past years.
For some attendees, Saturday marked their third time participating in Charlotte's annual march. For others like Anna Marachio, a Charlotte Catholic sophomore, it was their first time.
"I think our generation has really learned from the past what problems have come up in the past with sex and gender and everything," she said. "We really want to stand up for them and our future."
In a break from previous years, speakers were asked to refrain from criticizing or promoting political figures, and instead focus on political issues. Organizers also sought a diverse line-up of speakers to make the event more inviting to minorities.
"This year we're really trying to add some diversity to the crowd, and we really want women to be celebrating women as opposed to reacting to what's going on in Washington," said Renee Hill, a co-chair and organizer of this year's event.
The lineup of speakers was diverse. It included people like Mykah Johnson, a trans activist with the group Charlotte Uprising.
"We are organizing at the intersections, and we are wondering who will fight alongside us," Johnson said, "The revolution is not white. The revolution is not cis. The revolution is not pussy hats. The revolution is and always will be intersectional."
Cis refers to a person who identifies with the gender they were born with.
Other activists representing immigrant rights groups also spoke, echoing support for immigrants, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups.
View this post on Instagram Reverend Johnson from Marion SC #womensvoiceswomensstories #womenunitedmarch A post shared by CLT Womens March (@charlottewomensmarch) on Jan 26, 2019 at 10:11am PST
In addition to activists, elected officials were in no short supply - among them Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Harden, who won her first election in November.
"One year ago today, at this march, I announced my candidacy for office," she said told the crowd, "I had never run for office before and guess what? I won!"
Harden was one of three Democratic women who took the county commission by storm this past election, picking off the commission's three Republican men. She said she was inspired to run partly because of past marches, and the election of Donald Trump.
"You will find that if you run for office, people will support you," Harden said, "People thanked me for standing up and running for office. People will stand behind you."
She said she hoped this year's march will inspire even more women to run for office in 2019.
City Council member and Mayor Pro-Tem Julie Eiselt also spoke at the event. During her speech, she urged bankers to help women access loans to build businesses.
"There's a lot of bankers in the crowd. Use your position to help women access capital for small businesses," Eiselt said.
Marches were also held Saturday in Raleigh and Wilmington. Other cities in North Carolina, including Winston-Salem and Asheville, held marches last weekend.
Additional reporting was contributed by Sarafina Wright.