Against the rain, wind and dreary weather on Saurday afternoon in Lexington, one thing stood out: the brightly colored rain jackets, umbrellas, signs and hats of the fourth annual Lexington Women’s March.
A crowd of a few hundred people braved the cold for the event, hosted by the Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for Women.
The 2020 march, held in the plaza of the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse, expanded on the goals of the original march in 2017. That march was a reaction to the inauguration of President Trump and now the march has become an annual rally against gender and race inequality and a call for greater civic engagement.
Sisters Kennedy and Vannah Breeding, both UK students, attended the march with a group of friends.
“We’re really passionate about equality and even us as a small group, we represent a diverse group of individuals,” said Kennedy. For some of their group, this was their first march, and for others their second or third.
“It’s the idea of everyone coming in from different backgrounds to come together and remind each other that even though the fight isn’t over, we’re still fighting it together,” said Kennedy.
“We’re all from Eastern Kentucky, so it’s a big deal for us, and we’re engaged so it’s a big deal for the LGBTQ community and equality,” said Vannah Breeding, whose fiancée also attended.
The march opened with a feminist rendition of “America the Beautiful” and speeches from prominent activists, before marchers walked through downtown Lexington.
Kentucky Representative Attica Scott spoke about reasons to rise up, listing causes from free water in Martin County and free feminine hygiene products, to environmental justice and black lives matter.
“Your silence will not save you,” said Scott.
UK student McKayla Weaver gave a speech encouraging activism and unity among all women.
“Sometimes feminism isn’t necessarily inclusive of all different women and I wanted to make sure we had a call of action that stands out for unity and that we could all come together to fight against the oppressions we all face,” said Weaver.
Weaver, a freshman political science major, serves on the Board of Directors for the Bluegrass Activist Alliance, founded the Lexington chapter of Students Demand Action and has worked on numerous Democratic campaigns. She said one of the issues she thinks is most important at marches like this is belonging.
“We’re supposed to be a melting pot country, where we accept all different cultures, we accept diversity, but quite honestly that isn’t happening," Weaver said. "So I think when we work together we’re trying to ensure a future where everyone has promising opportunities."
Weaver said the march was important for the community because of how it shows unity.
“There’s people who are willing to fight for a better future for each other and that there’s people who are willing to stand their ground and stand up for others, even in awful weather like this, even when it’s not convenient,” Weaver said.
Other speakers included activists Shameka Parrish-Wright and Tuesday Meadows.
Meadow’s speech focused on President Donald Trump, and warning against the dangers she saw in his re-election.
At this year’s march, many march attendees held signs mentioning impeachment of the president and other Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Other speeches focused on voter registration, gun legislation and minority rights.
Groups like Planned Parenthood, Moms Demand Action and Free Mom Hugs attended the march, as did candidates in state and national elections.
UK Seniors Maggie Favier and Janice Chase attended the march in a group.
Chase, a political science major, said she attended the march to show support for the all the women in her life, because not all women can speak for themselves.
“It’s a good reminder to the community that women’s rights are always moving forward and a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do in the areas of healthcare, sexual education, health education, public education, rights for all women, disabled women, accessibility,” Chase said of the march.
“It’s just a reminder that we always have work to do, we’re never done.”