By Selene San Felice
The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Signs at the Annapolis Women’s unity march included: “Build up women, not walls,” “Our planet matters” and “Stop jailing immigrants.”
While a lot has changed in the last three years, the face of the Annapolis Women’s Unity March is still the same: pink and angry.
The crowd of about 200 women, men, children and dogs took to the streets of Annapolis for the third year in a row on Saturday to demand equality for women and underrepresented populations.
Keeping with tradition, bold homemade signs were held above bright pink hats.
The signs read: “Build up women, not walls,” “Our planet matters,” “Stop jailing immigrants. They pay more taxes than Trump,” “Support your sisters, not just your cis-ters” (in support of trans and non-binary rights), and “Don’t tread on me” with the famous Gadsden flag snake turned into a female reproductive system.
Among those holding a pink and white “I stand with Planned Parenthood” / “Together we fight for all” sign was Planned Parenthood of Maryland President and Anne Arundel resident Karen Nelson. Signs from her organization filled up most of the crowd, as well as black and white signs from the documentary “Equal Means Equal.”
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley kicked off the event outside the Civil Rights Foot Soldier Memorial before the crowd began marching to City Dock.
Buckley pointed out Maryland’s past hesitancy and recent progress, noting the state didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment until 20 years after women in the state had already started voting.
He also noted Annapolis elected half of its City Council as women and mentioned there are more women running for president in this election than ever before — but that the fight for equality is far from over.
“You showing up today is another step in this progress,” Buckley said. “You give voice to this movement, you give voice to a better future for our daughters and sons.”
Mount Airy couple Sandy and Carl Graziano went to the first Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in 2016 and attended last year’s Women’s Unity March in Annapolis. They were back in Annapolis this year, saying they were still concerned for the future of their two daughters since the election of President Donald Trump.
“This is the only time you can feel good among people who feel the same way you do,” Sandy Graziano said.
She held a sign that read, “My sign is too small to express all my anger,” and also pinned a sign to the back of her pink hat that read, “This is what democracy looks like.”
Jennifer Haber was among the members of Severna Park group Women Indivisible Strong Effective in the crowd who held signs in support of the Maryland Senate Bill 419. The bill requires prerelease units to help women transition into civilian life while completing jail sentences within months of their release.
Haber carried a neon pink sign that read, “Busch, Miller, Zirkin and Clippinger: Why is the bill for 1 Women’s Prerelease Center just sitting in committee? Men have 9, Women have 0!”
“This is a no brainer but yet it’s just sitting in these committees,” Haber said. “It’s just inexcusable.”
Rose Bean came from Ocean City with her friends and a “Fight like a girl” sign.
“We need to stand up for all women: transgender, gay, lesbian, whatever. Stand in solidarity,” she said. “I want to stand up for our rights and tell our president that he cannot tread on us.”
Once the group marched down Main Street to City Dock, Annapolis activist and musician Skye Bailey read the names and stories of black women and children who died in police custody or were affected in racial incidents before former Democratic gubernatorial primary contender Krish Vignarajah spoke.
Vignarajah called for more women in political office while voicing her anger at the president.
“It’s not just about representation. It’s about results. Women would never prioritize polluters over the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Women would never build more prisons over better schools. Or steal education funds and put them into special interest priorities,” Vignarajah said.
“Women would never tear families apart and put kids into cages, just as women would never violate the Constitution because building a border wall and appeasing right-wing talk radio shock jocks is more important than serving our nation.”
Leading organizer of the march Eve Hurwitz recognized criticism the march has gotten over the years. She also clarified that the Women’s Unity March has no ties to the national Women’s March, which was recently the subject of controversy over claims of anti-Semitic leadership.
“In the past, there has been some pushback with the march. It felt like in a lot of ways it was a white women-led movement. We’ve been working very hard to make sure that is not the case. We need to make sure we are inclusive and we are amplifying voices of the communities that need it,” Hurwitz said.
“In the past, when we have had events downtown, there have been a lot of people who have said this is not necessarily a safe or comfortable place for people of color. So what I wanted to do was instead of not doing it here, I wanted to talk about why.”
She then introduced Annapolis historian Janice Hayes-Williams, who talked about the history of racial and gender discrimination in the city before asking the crowd: “Bring someone to the women’s march who doesn’t look like you so we can fight for the betterment of our state and for our nation.”