Yorkers rally for women in Philadelphia Saturday
Spring Grove Area High School senior Amy Gunzelman did not give up when she faced injustice.
At the Women’s March on Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 20, she spoke about her battle fighting intolerance when she organized more than 10 protests to remove her school district’s board member Matt Jansen after he made insensitive comments about minorities.
“Through all of this, I have gotten hate mail delivered to my house, threatening messages on social media and street harassment," Gunzelman said, “but I continue to persist.”
And it paid off, she said, because Jansen stepped down from the school board in August. Jansen said he resigned because he was moving out of the district.
“Even with the discrimination that women face every single day, I hope each and every one of you knows that you can make a difference," she said. "Me, a 17-year-old feminist that has to fight every single day to make her voice heard, made a difference."
Gunzelman, one of the 12 "everyday speakers" chosen for the march, echoed the theme of the march, “We resist, we persist, we rise.”
Nervous before speaking, she also had been feeling feverish that day.
"On the steps ready to go up, there were so many things running through my head," Gunzelman said. But once she got up to the stage in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, her anxiety and sickness dissipated, and she knew she could deliver her speech.
Seeing all the smiling faces and supportive cheers from the crowd energized her, and "a lot of people have come up and told me how much they liked my speech," she said.
One year of Trump: Thousands of women marched down Benjamin Franklin Parkway wearing pink “pussyhats,” which were prevalent at last year’s Women’s March on Washington, D.C.
The march in Philadelphia and others around the country — including one Sunday in York City — marked the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which motivated women to rally for women's rights and the rights of other minorities they felt Trump had ignored or disrespected.
Millions of women marched on D.C. one day after the inauguration, including many of those from York and Lancaster counties who marched on Philadelphia on Saturday.
About 50 supporters from York and Lancaster counties, led by the York County Federation of Democratic Women, were some of the most vocal in the crowd Saturday, leading chants of “This is what democracy looks like!” and singing “This Little Light of Mine and “This Land is Your Land.”
They referred to themselves as "the roar of the roses," uniting both counties.
One man, Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman, came with the group, to which one of the women said, "Right on, dude!"
Reasons to resist: “This is my way to resist,” said Barbara Bolt, who serves as Democratic committee woman for Springfield Township. “This is my way of having my voice heard. I will not stand by and let democracy be destroyed.”
She and neighbor Vernice Wilder do not agree with what Trump has been doing in office for the past year.
“We’ve gone backward,” Bolt said. “He’s undone all of the best things we’ve accomplished.”
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She hopes to vote for women such as Shavonnia Corbin Johnson, who is running in the Democratic primary for a chance to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry and state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, of York City, in the upcoming elections.
Tanya Rogers, of Hellam Township, said she came to the rally because Trump is not supportive of women, whether it's his comments, who he surrounds himself with or his history.
“It’s an ugly tide, and we need to turn it back," she said.
Rogers is hopeful for November's midterm elections. She would like to see many more women running and for Democrats to take back the House and the Senate.
She is impressed with the organization of women nationally and locally within York County.
Newly elected Hallam Borough Council member Samantha Fullam, who ran a free pop-up shop with items for those in need, was at the rally and is vice president of the York County Young Democrats, an active community group.
More than women's issues: Education and environmental issues were most important for Carolyn Daugherty, a teacher at West York High School, and Susan Gambler, a learning support assistant at Central York School District's Hayshire Elementary.
Gina Heysek came with her 9-year-old daughter, Stella, from Marietta, Lancaster County. It was the fifth rally for both of them — they attended a science march, climate march, equality march and the Women’s March in D.C. last year.
The rally focused on issues affecting not only women but minority groups. A diverse selection of speakers highlighted immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, the treatment of Puerto Rico by the Trump administration, minority treatment, Muslim treatment, police brutality, criminal justice reform, black women, rape culture and sexual assault, to name a few.
"We can work best together to learn about our shared humanity, and then we rise," said Fariha Khan, who serves on Gov. Tom Wolf's Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
Bolt said that though rallies like Saturday's might not make a difference to the people in power, they make a difference to the people who participate.
“If you thought you were an island and no one felt like you did,” she said, you would realize that millions did.
“It does matter to politicians because they know they can be voted out,” Wilder added.
A theme of coming together on issues that affect all people ran strong through the rally, and Bolt added that it was important to come together across the political aisle as well.
“I have family members who voted for Trump. I loved these people before they voted for Trump, and I love them still. I just think they're misinformed," she said. "We can’t vilify people for who they vote for.”
Ali Collier, of Codorus Township, and Bobbi Proctor, of Lower Windsor Township, went for uplifting messages on their signs rather than divisive ones, writing: "Let's root for each other and watch each other grow," and "The sun is rising over a sea of love and waffles and possibilities," a quote from can-do government gal Leslie Knope, of "Parks and Recreation."