On Saturday, January 21, Mint Hill residents joined with men, women and children from all over the city for the Women’s March on Charlotte.
CMPD estimates that the Women’s March brought over 10,000 people to uptown Charlotte, more than double the amount organizers expected. Charlotte marchers joined over 2.5 million people worldwide who gathered to raise awareness of various women’s rights issues.
For many, it was important to be seen and heard. “We don’t want to let anyone down,” says Mint Hill resident Jennifer Kant. “We’re there for all of our friends, people we care about, because they’re getting silenced over and over again.”
Many women who lived through significant strides forward for women in the 60s and 70s marched because they don’t want to see those gains eliminated. “We’re marching to sustain the rights that we’ve worked hard to get for the last fifty years,” said Esther Kant, who drove from Raleigh to support her daughter Jennifer. “We don’t want to turn back the clock.”
The peaceful march was marked by its positive spirit and reception. CMPD worked quickly to adjust for the large crowds. Construction workers across from Romare Bearden park lined up at the windows to wave and cheer on those marching. Omega Psi Phi’s Queen City brothers handed out bottled water. “That was the best part of the march,” says Kant. “Everyone was so supportive of each other.”
Many people brought their children to the family-friendly event. “When I tried to explain to my 6, 4 and 1 year old what we were going to do today, it came down to some of the most basic ideas we try to instill every day,” says Mint Hill Mom Cassie Dooling. “Be kind to one another, be fair, and be responsible for your own body.”
For Dooling, it was equally important to let her kids see her be a part of the march. “I voted in this past election, but I do not feel confident that these basic ideas will be protected,” Dooling continues. “I wanted to know that I was part of something bigger than myself and let my kids see a glimpse of how big their little world and voices can be.”
One criticism of women’s marches both in Charlotte and around the world is that there isn’t a single issue unifying those who march. Signs carried at the march referenced diverse causes like Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act, marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, and climate change. Kant, however, sees the marchers’ diversity as a strength. “We have a unified method that we want to support each other,” says Kant. “That’s our message. We’re here together, and we’re going to watch out for each other. As a group, there isn’t just one thing we’re about, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Some locals decided to make their voices heard in other cities. “I decided to go to DC to march because this feels like a potentially scary time for women,” says a Mint Hill Mom. “I felt it was important to be a part of a movement that was fundamentally important to me. I marched for all the women I know now and for future generations. I think it’s important that the voice of women be heard, and the best way to accomplish that is participating in something big.”
Like the Charlotte March, the Women’s March on DC was characterized by a positive atmosphere. “The atmosphere was one of love, power and acceptance,” says the same mom. “It was powerful to see women and men of all ages, genders, races, sexualities and religions come together on the issues in a peaceful way.”
Queen’s Grant High School Latin Teacher Ben Henkel joined over 60,000 people in Atlanta who congregated at the Center for Human and Civil Rights for the walk to the Georgia State Capitol. Though marches across the country were scheduled to coincide with President Trump’s inauguration, for Henkel, the march wasn’t necessarily about reacting to Trump’s presidency. “I joined the March because I am not happy with the direction the country is taking in regard to civil rights for minorities and women,” says Henkel. “My parents raised me to stand up for equality for everyone, not just Americans. I felt it was especially important because I was raised in a household where my mom was the main breadwinner of the family.”
Although the march has ended, you can still get involved with the cause by finding the Women’s March on Charlotte on Facebook.