The New Suffragettes: Thousands Of Conn. Women Bound For D.C. Protest

By Neil Vigdor
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While approximately 1 million people are expected in the nation’s capital for next weekend’s women’s march, plenty of towns and cities across America (outside Washington D.C.) are preparing their own marches to mark the day.


Lisa Boyne won’t be just another face in a sea of humanity.

When she heard that there was nothing in Stamford to resemble the Women’s March on Washington, she rushed to fill the void.

She pulled together figures from Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the LGBT community for a forum Saturday at UConn-Stamford.

It will be followed by a march — fittingly along Washington Boulevard — and past Trump Parc. The luxury condominium high-rise has frequently been the target of protests against Donald Trump, who received a seven-figure sum for use of his name on the city’s tallest building.

“It’s really for people to say how they feel about the incoming administration,” said Boyne, 50, a Fairfield resident. “We want to give anyone that feels marginalized a voice. We’re not calling it an anti-Trump protest. (It is) a women’s day march. We want to be part of that movement.”

The main event in Washington, D.C., could draw up to 1 million people to the nation’s capital. It is evoking comparisons to other transcendent marches, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to Vietnam War protests.

“We’re not going to sit quietly at home,” said Mary Himes, a Greenwich mother of two who works in interior design and is the wife of Democratic Congressman Jim Himes.

Himes, 50, gave away her ticket to Trump’s inaugural, which will take place the day before the march.

“I personally am going both as a protest of Trump and as a way to show support for issues that I feel are under attack by the incoming administration,” Himes said.

It will be a feminist tour de force, but participants say their end game isn’t just about denouncing Trump as a misogynist.

It’s about raising awareness for issues such as reproductive rights, immigration reform, equal pay, universal health care and, one intertwined with Connecticut, gun control.

They will ride on buses, trains and, for the audacious, cars. They will come in pant suits — a nod to Hillary Clinton — and parkas. They will wear green wristbands for Newtown and pink “pussy hats” in a dig at Trump.

“The sexism is something that cannot go unnoticed and unflagged,” said Kara Baekey, of Norwalk. “I’m marching in D.C. for my daughter. I’m marching in D.C. for my son and for all of the other Americans who are gravely concerned about the what the next four years could potentially bring.”

Baekey, 44, founded the Connecticut chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shortly after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.

The organization endorsed Clinton during the campaign.

“That loss was very devastating to our movement,” Baekey said.

Early start
Connecticut is sending a convoy of 80 buses to Washington, according to organizers, who used social media to update participants on the march. Individual round-trip bus fares range from $61 (Greenwich) to $180 (Hartford). The march is open to men as well.

While inaugural revelers are retiring to their hotels from black-tie balls, a marathon day will just be starting for thousands of Connecticut marchers, including Po Murray, 50, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots gun control group.

“We’re leaving at 1:30 a.m.,” Murray said. “Women’s issues are intersectional. It’s just in unprecedented times we need to rally together to make sure that our rights are not rolled back.”

State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, will be retracing her steps Saturday — in the shadow of the Washington Monument and past the Reflecting Pool.

But this time will be a stark contrast to Jan. 20, 2009, the first inaugural of President Barack Obama.

“I wouldn’t call this joyful,” she said. “I would call this critical. For me, I have to stand up and say, ‘Our voices will be heard.’ We have to make sure that, not just as a women, that groups that are traditionally less powerful are not shut out of the process.”

McCarthy Vahey, 46, is part of the grassroots women’s group Pantsuit Nation, which will be well represented.

“My family and I went down for Obama’s inauguration,” McCarthy Vahey said. “I remember taking my daughter to the concert, standing by the Reflecting Pool, listening and thinking about what it was like for the people who were there for Dr. King.

That obviously was a very joyful moment.”

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