How women's marches became a uniting force in a divided country

By Jose Del Real

Demonstrators depart from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, Tennessee. Photos / AP
Demonstrators depart from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, Tennessee. Photos / AP

Ashley Donnert was unsure what to expect before she arrived for the Women's March in Wichita, Kansas.

And she was a bit nervous; in her deep-red home state, where pro-Trump slogans and merchandise are a common sight, she is largely outnumbered in her objection to US President Donald Trump.

What she found were hundreds, if not thousands, of smiling marchers, chanting as they carried homemade signs demanding equal rights for women and protesting against the President.

"It was amazing. I was not expecting a turnout like that in Wichita," said Donnert, 27. "It was a day of hope. And I hadn't really felt that in a while."

The record-breaking participation in women's marches across the country yesterday has drawn attention to the sharp opposition facing Trump across liberal American cities, which pushed Democrat Hillary Clinton to a strong popular-vote victory against him even though he won in the decisive Electoral College.

But the demonstrations weren't just confined to liberal enclaves.

Protesters also gathered in red states and small towns across the country - in villages on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, in conservative pockets across the heartland, in rural towns in states like Virginia, and down throughout the South.

In Anchorage, thousands of protesters gathered despite an unforgiving snowstorm and freezing temperatures, holding signs with slogans such as "My body. My rights. My choice". Farther north, in Fairbanks, thousands were undeterred by the extreme cold.

At the same time, thousands marched outside the Idaho Statehouse in Boise as snow fell over them.

Even in rural Onley, Virginia., dozens of men and women gathered along a highway in solidarity with the larger Women's March on Washington.

Asked how she would sum up the day, Donnert said it was "hopeful."

"There are Trump supporters everywhere here, and so I expected some of them to turn up and be angry. But it was a very peaceful day," she said.

"The people of Wichita and the people of Kansas are generally very friendly people. I was very grateful it was such a peaceful day."

Tai Simpson from the Nez Perce Tribe in Lapwai, Idaho speaks as supporters gather at the steps if the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March in Boise.
Tai Simpson from the Nez Perce Tribe in Lapwai, Idaho speaks as supporters gather at the steps if the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March in Boise.
Hundreds of people march in downtown Sitka, Alaska, during the women's march.
Hundreds of people march in downtown Sitka, Alaska, during the women's march.
Tracy Williams, 76, from Austin, created her personalised hat to wear for the women's march in Austin, Texas.
Tracy Williams, 76, from Austin, created her personalised hat to wear for the women's march in Austin, Texas.

- Washington Post

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