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Thousands at Women’s March in Charlotte: ‘Fired up, ready to go’

Huge crowds at Charlotte Women’s March 2018

Thousands march Saturday in the Charlotte Women's March through uptown Charlotte
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Thousands march Saturday in the Charlotte Women's March through uptown Charlotte

A crowd estimated at more than 5,000 people filed into uptown Saturday for the second annual Women’s March in Charlotte.

They packed into First Ward Park to hear two hours of speakers, then marched through uptown. Waving their signs and hoisting a banner, they chanted phrases such as, “Fired up, ready to go,” as they walked.

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Donning their signature knitted pink hats with kitten ears (playing on the vulgar phrase made famous by President Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape) they hoisted signs with messages such as, “In our house, we believe women’s rights are human rights” and “science is real.”

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The march gained global prominence following Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Last year, Charlotte joined cities across America in record-setting turnouts, with an estimated 10,000 participants.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles is asked if the parade of Women Marchers can begin and she enthusiastically gives the order. Jeff Siner-jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Marches and rallies also took place in hundreds of U.S. cities and towns, from New York and Washington, D.C., to Raleigh and Asheville. The New York times reported that women’s marches also took place in Rome; Frankfurt, Germany, Kampala, Uganda and Osaka, Japan.

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Many in Charlotte came early enough to hear speakers extol the value of working together and the importance of turning out to vote.

“We must support each other,” said organizer Regina Stone-Grover. “The struggles are hard. That’s why we’re here today.”

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“There is an indescribable power that comes when the huddled masses come together for the common good,” said Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield, who talked about looking out at a “beautiful rainbow” of people.

Carolyn Logan, a speaker from the Black Women’s Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, called on women to support each other in the workplace and resist harassment of all kinds. “Don’t let this movement die,” she told the crowd. “Stand up. Speak up.”

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, who was also a speaker, tweeted, “#CLTWomensMarch ready. WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for. The time is now.”

Others took to social media as well to show their enthusiasm for the march.

Stephanie Lee, a mother from Stallings, joined the crowd with her 2-year-old daughter, Katelyn. Lee wanted to attend last year’s march but couldn’t because Katelyn was too young.

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This year, she said it was important to bring Katelyn — who sat in a stroller holding a sign that read, “Though I be but little I am fierce.”

“This is her first march, and it couldn’t be a more important cause,” Lee said. “I want her future to be brighter than what mine is or her grandmother’s.”

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Tanja Buchanan said she attended last year’s march. This year she brought her two teenage daughters, her fiance and a neighbor.

Christina Ihle, the neighbor, said she came because she’s frustrated by “just the lack of respect that seems to be pervasieve. We’re all human beings who care about our famlies.”

The march, like last year’s, had a commitment to inclusiveness and a mix of ideas, and many men joined the crowds as well. Nate Turner, a representative of the LGBT Democrats of North Carolina, appreciated the mix, but said it’s important to make sure women’s voices were being heard.

“It’s not to speak to (men.) It’s for us to support the movement,” Turner said. “It’s a women’s movement for all. And we should support it.”

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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