Women’s March in the San Luis Valley draws hundreds

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by Lori Nagel

On January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of our new US President, millions of women and men around the world gathered to march, speak and collaborate in the pursuit of peace and equal rights, in what was known simply as the “Women’s March.”  The message was one of equality for all, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, medical history, or bank account size.

While many San Luis Valley (SLV) residents went to Santa Fe, Denver, and even DC to march, there were over 350 of us who marched down Hwy. 160 in Alamosa, near Adams State.  Led by a group of drummers from the college, those who marched were in good spirits and carried their handmade signs with pride.

The organizers of the event stressed beforehand that this was not meant to be an anti-Trump protest so much as reinforcing topics we’d like to see promoted and ensuring our voices are heard going forward, especially with this recent transition in government.

One Crestone woman who attended, Christine Canaly, said afterwards, “What the march meant to me was galvanizing energy to create more courage and insight, and consolidating our collective public power. What concerns me the most, and I know there are many issues to feel concern about right now, is the privatization of our public assets. The sign I made said ‘Keep your privates out of our Public ASSets.’ This includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, the military and of course, what I work to protect, our beloved public lands. Make no mistake, this is a movement by billionaires in this country to privatize profits and socialize losses. They are coming in to assume control of our assets and redirect our collective wealth into their own pockets. We must fight them every step of the way.”

Charlotte LeDonne, longtime resident and founder of the SLV Women’s Conference, was  the instigator for this local Women’s March.  Jan Oen, Shirley Atencio, Patricia Eagle and Alice Price were the main organizers of the event, which began at the corner of Hwy. 160 and Richardson Ave. in Alamosa, went down and around the hospital, and then back to the campus.  Originally,

they were planning to have the after-gathering at McDaniel Hall, but relocated to Richardson Hall as a result of the large number of people in attendance.

The march itself was incredibly inspiring and upbeat, and the auditorium gathering built on that momentum.  They reiterated that the goal is not to focus on what we’re against, but what we’re for.  They discussed humanity finding a deep genuine solidarity, and that our colors and creeds are not a threat to who we are, but actually make us who we are.

It was educational as well, as Alice talked about many equal rights movements over the past century that have either made real differences or have not been enforced.  A quote from Dr. Martin Luther King was cited: “Now let us begin. Now let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”

Someone talked about local social justice issues, and Dr. Elizabeth Kinney spoke about healthcare and overcoming the barriers to healthcare access for all.  Congress is moving to abolish the Affordable Care Act as well as stopping any funding of Planned Parenthood, where abortion constitutes only 3% of its services and is not funded by the federal government.

The SLV Immigrant Advocate spoke about the separation of families, how children are terrified they’ll be separated from their undocumented parents.  The Student President of Immigration Affairs announced they’re presenting on Monday to make Adams State a sanctuary campus, and are planning a postcard campaign to block bills that defund sanctuary campuses.

They quoted Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”  That’s the very energy that engulfed that entire auditorium, including the balcony!

After all the planned speakers, participants got a chance to speak and/or make announcements.  Sharing their feelings and announcing events, people talked about solid actions we can all take to create real change in our communities and in the world.  KRZA pledged their willingness to be a part of it by encouraging any future event organizers to email news@KRZA.org, and they will help spread the word.

The gathering concluded with a beautiful singing meditation, repeating, “We are the people, the people of love.  Let us people love today.”  All in all, a very beautiful and positive experience of which everyone seemed genuinely inspired and glad to be a part.

Lori Nagel is a professional photographer. She also is a writer for The Crestone Eagle.

 

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