Yorkers heading to D.C. for Women's March

Alyssa Pressler

At 68 years old, Alana Haag has been fighting inequality against minorities and women her whole life.

Her mother came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia during World War II as a war bride, and she was Haag's inspiration to become the strong woman she is today. To continue her lifelong fight, the Windsor Township resident will be among many members of the York County Federation of Democratic Women heading to the nation's capital Jan. 21 to take part in the Women's March on Washington.

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016, file photo, construction continues for the Inauguration and swearing-in ceremonies for President-elect Donald Trump on the Capitol steps in Washington. It’s typically an unquestioned honor to participate in the inauguration of an American president. This time, though, it’s different. The sharp divisions over Donald Trump’s election have politicians, celebrities and even high school students debating whether taking part in the inauguration is a political act that demonstrates support for the new president and his agenda or a nonpartisan tribute to democratic traditions and the peaceful transfer of power. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

"She always taught me that a woman should be strong, she should have her own career, she should not have to depend on a man for anything," Haag said of her mother. "I'm going to make sure that people understand that we're not going to sit back and let people take over who are not caring for us."

The Women's March on Washington was planned on Facebook shortly after President-elect Donald Trump's election. According to the Facebook page, the event was organized to show solidarity for women's rights and minorities' rights, which those planning the march believe came under attack during the campaign.

The march was conceived when a grandmother in Hawaii asked 40 friends to go march in Washington, according to information on the Women's March on Washington website. Within just a few days, the notion had gained so much traction that the official march was created.

Originally, the march was referred to as the Million Women March, but the name changed when founders were told that 2017 is the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Million Women March. Hundreds of thousands of African-American women marched together in Philadelphia for social, political and economic development in the black community.

Haag said she doesn't believe Trump has proven he will back women's rights once in office, and she's hoping the march will prove to him how important the issue is.

"My main purpose is making sure that all people have equal rights, and women haven’t had equal rights for a long time," she said.

Salome Johnson, another member of the Federation of Democratic Women, echoed Haag's sentiment.

The 69-year-old will be attending the march to protest Trump's election but also to show how unhappy women and minorities like her are with what he is saying he will do.

"I don’t think any government, state, local or federal, has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body and her life," Johnson said.

Deb Yonick, the president of the Federation of Democratic Women, is looking forward to marching in Washington with so many of the members of her organization. She said in an email statement that many more members wanted to go but couldn't because of health issues or old age. Yonick is the wife of Bill Kalina, The York Dispatch's digital content editor. She, Haag and Johnson also are members of the paper's community advisory board.

Deborah Yonick

Yonick is marching to spread awareness of issues such as sexism, homophobia, racism and xenophobia that she believes were rampant during the campaign, she said.

"I am marching to ensure the spotlight shines brightly on a range of issues raised by the incoming administration that will affect us all," she wrote. "I am marching against the staggering and dangerous conflicts of interest Trump and his team present."

It's not only members of the Federation of Democratic Women who are going. Jennifer Weitkamp, a 33-year-old social worker who lives in Spring Garden Township, will be attending the march with three of her friends. She believes the march is a way for her to take control because so much of the current political climate feels out of her control.

"I’m not a Trump supporter, and it’s so concerning to me that the country was able to overlook the blatant misogyny and his history of mistreating women," she said.

Women's rights are the primary concern for her, Weitkamp said, and she specifically mentioned Trump's promise to defund Planned Parenthood. As the mother of a newborn baby girl, she feels it's her responsibility to take a stand.

"It would be hard for me to look my daughter in the eye and say, 'We knew this could happen, and we did nothing,'" Weitkamp said.

The Women's March on Washington will occur at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Those marching will meet at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Third Street Southwest, near the U.S. Capitol, according to a news release.

The York Dispatch will be covering Donald Trump's inauguration as well as the Women's March. If you're a York County resident attending either, please reach out to reporter Alyssa Pressler at ajackson@yorkdispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter, @AlyssaPressYD, or the Dispatch's Twitter, @YorkDispatch, for constant updates the days of the events.