Grand Rapids joins national community, hosts third annual Women’s March

GR Citizens. Womens March. 1/19/19 at 1 P.M. Downtown Grand Rapids. Protesting for rights. GVL / Ben Hunt

GR Citizens. Womens March. 1/19/19 at 1 P.M. Downtown Grand Rapids. Protesting for rights. GVL / Ben Hunt

Alexandra Loyd

On Saturday, Jan. 19, the city of Grand Rapids hosted its third annual Women’s March at Calder Plaza, one of the 673 sister marches held throughout the world reflecting the largest one that was held in Washington D.C. on the same day. The event was focused on advancing human rights causes and galvanizing that women will not be silenced. 

According to the Women’s March of Grand Rapids’ Facebook event page, the event gave voices to the multitude of issues that women/femmes experience on a daily basis and was inclusive as well as intersectional.

There were a number of speakers lined up for the event and the march lasted about 30 minutes, flooding through the heart of downtown before circling back to Calder Plaza. Soldadera Coffee also volunteered to bring hot coffee for all in attendance; the company is a champion for women’s struggles and said they were very excited to be a part of the event.

“The Grand Rapids rally and march featured women from the community who spoke on topics such as intersectionality, immigrants’ rights, the Black experience, public health, anti-Semitism, sex work, women in the workplace, sexual assault and more,” said Coordinator for the 2019 Grand Rapids Women’s March Raina Cook. “These speakers were able to relate with their personal experiences and give the attendees suggestions on where work needs to be done in these areas.” 

Cook spoke at the 2018 rally, where she spoke on the behalf of the 230 people who were mass arrested during demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s Inauguration who were still facing charges the day of the rally. 

Cook said that having Women’s Marches every year is important because women’s issues are not going away any time soon, especially if people aren’t continuously fighting for them. 

“It can be easy to look at small gains and think that our work is done, but we still have a long way to go,” Cook said. “Even feminism itself has a lot of work to do in dismantling white supremacy and making the movement a safe place for all. Marching every year is a call to each of us to continue working within our communities to create true equality.”

The Grand Rapids event specifically sought to highlight that there is a lot more work people can do to improve the current political climate than simply going out and voting.

“We hoped to connect attendees with sometimes lesser-known organizations and groups in the area that are continually fighting for equality and social justice,” Cook said. “In this way, people can continue the fight every day of the year while strengthening our community.”

Cook said that her hopes were that people would be really stirred by the speakers who shared their personal experiences. By handing the microphone to marginalized groups, she hoped to highlight the fact that while all women are oppressed in some ways, there are always multiple intersectional layers to the issues.