Nashville’s sister event to the Women’s March on Washington was roughly twice as big as organizers expected. And the thousands of women and men who marched were there to champion a number of left-leaning causes.
Speakers representing numerous groups, including Muslims, African Americans and the transgender community, shared personal stories of exclusion and frustration before the march. Perhaps none were more intimate than Francie Hunt of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, who spoke of an abortion she had years ago.
“Some of you are like, ‘Oh my god did she just admit she had an abortion in front of 10,000 people? Absolutely!” she said to cheers. “We should not be ashamed of it, there is no shame in abortion.”
That humorous take on serious issues was also reflected in the sea of suggestive pink hats, crocheted for the occasion. And playful signs that took digs at President Donald Trump’s statements about women and minorities.
Many who marched across Siegenthaler Bridge to the Metro Courthouse said they were there to support equal rights for all. Retiree Julie Thoennes said she was demonstrating against some of the same types of “hate, violence and racism” she thought had been conquered in her youth.
“It feels like we’ve been catapulted back about 25 to 30 years, and it makes my heart hurt,” Thoennes said. “But if people do this, we can stop it now, nip it in the bud, right from the get-go."
A few counter-protesters showed up, and some onlookers argued that everyone already has equal rights. But there was virtually no antagonism at the event many hope will serve as a stepping stone to more involvement in local activism.