Island women’s march makes advocacy accessible

Shown here at the 2017 Women's March at Five Corners, high school students stand with signs at the rally. There will be another Women's March held on Sat., Jan. 19, at 1 pm, going from Five Corners to Washington Park in Oak Bluffs.

As an extension of the women’s marches in Washington and Boston, a group of Island women have organized a smaller-scale march on Martha’s Vineyard to bring attention to a number of issues such as women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigration.

The march is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, from 1 pm to 3 pm. People will gather at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven and march to Washington Park in Oak Bluffs.

The organizing group consists of Margaret Emerson, Holly MacKenzie, Carla Cooper, and others. According to Emerson, who is chair of the Chilmark Democratic Committee, the group hopes to empower folks who can’t travel to attend larger national marches, but still want to stand in solidarity for a cause they believe in.

The 2017 Women’s March in Washington was a catalyst for women to resist the Trump presidency and the misogynistic viewpoints it represents, according to the Women’s March website. The 2019 march will mark “two years of training new activists, and two years of building power,” according to the website.

Emerson told The Times she registered the march as a “sister march” on the website.

Sister marches are organized by volunteers around the world.

According to the website, there are over 670 community-organized marches across the globe that allow those who can’t make it to the march in Washington on Jan. 21 to come together. Almost 5 million people are registered to march in various sister marches, according to the website.

Emerson said she got the go-ahead from the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs police to hold the march.

She will be marching in support of women’s reproductive rights, but said, “Everyone is encouraged to make a sign for whatever they want to represent and support. This march represents a broad array of issues, it’s not just about women’s rights.”

Another Island woman, Cathy Walthers, attended the last march in Washington, and said she will attend the 2019 national march as well.

After returning from the national march, Walthers said many women — including herself — became more actively involved in politics.

“A lot came out of the last march; many women came back inspired and wanting to help,” she said.

For Walthers, women’s marches are a way to “stand up to a bully, and to stand up for democracy.”

But she also mentioned a variety of problems that have engendered the need for these marches, including the current climate crisis, gun violence, and anti-Semitic ideologies.

“I would love to see 50 percent women in Congress, as opposed to one in four [being] women,” she said. “We are in a movement right now in this country, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.”