2019 National Women’s March
By Alexandra Hoethke, George Washington University Online High School Journalist and K12 International Academy Journalist
Sat January 26, 2019
Charlotte Women’s March
(YAWP) On January 26, 2019, I attended the Charlotte Women’s March and had the privilege to interview North Carolina’s Congresswoman Alma Adams, North Carolina’s Senator Jeff Jackson, and many other women’s rights activists.
The National Women’s march originated in 1913 and has grown each and every year with the purpose of pressing for equality among genders. In 2017, after President Trump’s inauguration, women across the nation feared that all their past efforts to gain equality as human beings, would fade and cause our current society to return to a discriminatory society. Women’s voices across the nation intensified expressing the need to unite strongly with one another and continue to fight for equal rights that our Constitution grants to all human beings. With President Trump in office, the Women’s March now not only focuses on equality for women and the need for equal pay, but it has also broadened the march’s intentions to unite all Americans, encouraging them to stand up and voice their positions on how the current administration seeks to disregard important matters which currently face the nation, including but not limited to, the right for a woman to choose what is best for her body, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, the Family Leave Act, Planned Parenthood, Equal Pay for women and minorities in the workforce, and many important matters which are threatened under the current administration.
On January 19th and 26th, 2019, the Women’s March took place in many cities and states across America including, Charlotte, Washington D.C. and New York City. The message conveyed throughout the marches was that America is capable of standing united and the fight for equality will not dissolve under President Trump’s administration. Many feel the standards within the nation are going backward instead of moving forward for equality, which would ultimately benefit every person, child, and families.
The streets of Washington, D.C. were filled with women, men, children, and women’s rights activists as they demanded equal rights within their nation. In preparation for the 2020 presidential election, women’s rights activists gathered in the cold to educate the nation on important issues women have to face on a daily basis such as violence, harassment against women and minorities, and racial discrimination in the workforce. Speakers from women’s rights organizations discussed the lack of equality for women within America and how our representatives enforce laws which deplete women from obtaining the ability to reach their full potential.
The attendees for the Women’s March in Charlotte, North Carolina consisted of thousands of women, men, children, and state representatives. Among the thousands of attendees was the Democratic Congresswoman Alma Adams, from North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House, and the Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate, Jeff Jackson.
I had the privilege of interviewing, Congresswoman Alma Adams. During my interview with Congresswoman Adams, she expressed her opinion on why people should attend the Women’s March. Congresswoman Adams was a speaker at the march and encouraged other women to run for office and help make a difference in our world. When interviewed she stated,
“We can be what we see, encourage other women to not only run for office, to help make a difference, you know, that’s where policy is made and so I tell people all the time you don’t change policy until you change policymakers.”
She inspired and encouraged the attendees by providing them with strong mentoring. She then discussed the historic accomplishments made by women during the 2018 Mid-Term Election:
“Look at this past election, so many women running for the first time…that’s what’s important.”
Congresswoman Adams exemplified the need for a mentor to encourage young women who are interested in making a difference by running for office and making a change in America.
Along with the thousands of attendees, I also had the privilege to interview Senator Jeff Jackson. During my interview with Senator Jackson, he expressed how he was also in support of the need for equality for all by stating,
“I believe in what they’re doing, standing up for women and standing up for the basic principles that our country was founded on, equality for all.”
Having so many strong leaders attend the march inspired all attendees and reassured them that their voices would be carried and heard by our legislative leaders.
Vibrant Issues Addressed By North Carolina’s Congress and Senate Representatives
When discussing the issue regarding gender pay inequality, Congresswoman Adams expressed her position on the urgent issue by stating,
“When you get out and you start working, you want to make the same thing that a man makes who’s doing the same job that you’re doing.”
She urged the need for women to support businesses founded by women. She also expressed the need for mentoring. Congresswoman Adams discussed with me her view on the Equal Rights Amendment.
“We passed the Equal Rights Amendment, but rights are still not equal for women.”
All throughout America, women and men are treated differently. Society has placed a constraint upon women which labels them as the weaker gender in comparison to men. However, the current generation is fighting against unjust standards, as women fight against them daily. The continuous issue of discrimination against women in the workforce is decreasing, however, at a slow rate. Many believe that by having a strong mentor such as Congresswoman Adams, women are able to pave the way to acquire equal rights in the near future.
I had the opportunity to interview the president of a local North Carolina committee that works to ensure the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. During my interview, she said,
“I’m here to collect signatures for the Equal Rights Amendment…I support the Women’s Movement and equal rights for all.”
She accumulated many signatures from the attendees who supported the need for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, as many believe without the ERA being ratified, women would be prevented from the right to fully acquire equal rights.
During my interview with Congresswoman Adams, we discussed the importance for women to be encouraged to run for office and acquire a seat at the table:
“Everybody has to have, we including women, a seat at the table. And we as women have worked to make sure that we are seated there.”
She explained how women have had to work hard to obtain a seat at the table, in the U.S. House and Senate. She referenced a meaningful message originated by Shirley Chisholm:
“Shirley Chisholm, who was the first woman and the first African American to run for President. She said, if there’s no seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.”
I immediately felt inspired as she mentored and encouraged women to fight for change and to always remember to pull up a folding chair in office. Congresswoman Adam’s goal was to encourage women to know that they don’t have to feel or be left out unless they want to because you can always bring in a folding chair if one is not provided.
Congresswoman Adams also discussed with me the importance of issues such as healthcare, childcare, paid family leave, and equal pay.
“So many women have come together to unite within organizations from all races…colors, from all backgrounds, who come together to work on those issues that are important to them like healthcare, childcare, paid family leave.”
Approximately 44 million Americans do not have health insurance. This is an urgent issue because families who do not have healthcare face the daily fear of the unknown of how to receive medical care and treatment. In reality, no person, man, woman, or child should be denied medical treatment.
During my interview with Senator Jackson, he stated, “I’m passionate about early childhood education.”
This leads to another important matter, the Paid Family Leave Act. In further reasoning, families who are expecting a new baby or who experience an ill family member are unable to take time off work due to the burden of not being paid. The Paid Family Leave Act enables families to be paid while taking time off of work to care for their family needs; this issue is still present throughout the nation as many states do not provide Family Leave benefits.
Senator Jackson discussed issues which he is most passionate about such as, early childhood education, redistricting reform, and resorting basic reasonability and decency in political leadership.
“I’m passionate about early childhood education. I’m passionate about redistricting reform so we have fair elections, and I’m passionate about restoring basic reasonability and decency in political leadership.”
Early childhood education has been discussed on many occasions. The ability to access childcare is important, as it enables children to have access to resources which would allow them to acquire early childhood education and protection. Congress has elevated the funding for early learning and care programs for children, however, the issue is still a problem throughout America as many programs are under-funded, resulting in a lack of early childhood education programs and facilities.
In North Carolina’s past elections, there have been several claims stating the current districts are partisan gerrymandered which violate the state constitution. This issue has been present throughout North Carolina for several years and recently many organizations such as Common Cause and the North Carolina Democratic Party are fighting against this act of gerrymandering by filing a lawsuit against the state elections board and the state legislative leaders. Senator Jackson is one of the supporters who are in support of North Carolina pursuing the redistricting reform.
Senator Jackson feels the basic responsibility and decency in the current political leadership is substantially low.
“It’s a low bar, frankly, to impress people these days. You just have to be basically reasonable.”
Along with Senator Jackson, many Americans feel the current administration and political representatives are not fulfilling their responsibilities as strong respectful leaders of America.
Many attendees at the Charlotte Women’s Rights March expressed their opinions and positions through artistic posters. A group of four College students, who remain anonymous, expressed their message behind their posters. They wanted change in the workplace. They expressed that many women in the workforce are confronted daily by men telling them to smile more. Marchers felt very strongly about the need for this verbal degradation within the workplace to end. They felt very strongly about expressing their need to be treated respectfully and equally, just as men treat other male co-workers.
They shared that they do not want to be viewed differently as a female and judged based on their sex. They also stated that women need to be respected even if they choose not to be a housewife.
Another group of activists expressed the need to end harassment in the workforce and shared that they should not be treated as objects. Their posters read, “Our rights are not up for grabs and neither are we.” They expressed their concern that women and minority rights are moving backward rather than striving forward.
When asked, a group of women, exemplified issues that they were most passionate about. One woman said, “We really think that women’s rights are very fundamental. There are a lot of women of different race, different gender, different social economic status, who really face – not only being a woman – but other types of oppression and it’s really important to make sure that we advocate for them as well, because even though we may be privileged and we may be well off, it’s still important to speak for others who can’t speak for themselves.”
Among the many speakers at the Charlotte Women’s Rights March, many expressed other equally important issues we face today that must be addressed such as, access to credible reproductive healthcare services, sexually transmitted disease prevention and care, birth control, access to sexuality education, and racial/gender discrimination. Many speakers supported their demands and stated their opinions by sharing their own personal stories. One speaker discussed the need for gun reform as her eleven-year-old son witnessed the shooting of his best friend. Another speaker demanded equality in the workforce as she was being paid less than her male coworker who held the same job position and completed the same work. Speakers also discussed ways in which violence can end in America such as, ending radical profiling and targeting of specific races and genders. The message conveyed from the speakers was, women’s rights are human rights.
Throughout these marches all over America, all the attendees united with one another in support of strong messages that proved that as a nation, we need to move forward, not backward and that both genders are humans and need to be treated equally in the workforce and at home. In the end, respect for all will benefit our children’s futures and the world they live in.
I was proud to be part of the Charlotte Women’s March and to have had the opportunity to interview strong political representatives. I was honored to march in this historic march with my great-grandmother who is 93 years old, born in 1925. When I interviewed my great-grandmother, she expressed how she suffered hardship as she came to America for freedom and to be part of what America stands for, equality for all. She wanted to ensure that her voice will carry forward to future generations such as mine and to hopefully be a mentor for the next generation, to encourage them to continue fighting for equal rights and to have their voices be heard. My great-grandmother brought her own folding chair to the march, her wheelchair, just to make sure she had a seat at the table.
Congresswoman Alma Adams and Student Journalist Alexandra Hoethke
Senator Jeff Jackson and Student Journalist Alexandra Hoethke
“Healthcare Crisis.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,