Text and photos by Connie Leinbach
Songs of peace and encouragement, words of wisdom and calls to activism were highlights of Ocracoke’s version of the Women’s March Saturday afternoon.
About 120 islanders and some visitors—women, men, children and dogs—gathered on School Road at 1 p.m. to join in similar marches across the country the day after a new U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, was inaugurated.
“It’s our moral obligation,” said Brandon Benecki while he and his wife, Kara, waited for the march to begin.
The marchers walked, rode on bikes and scooters or were pulled in wagons while carrying home-made posters with a myriad of sentiments.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept,” “Respect for All,” and “We are the Change” were just some of them.
“There were more people standing up (across the country) for women’s rights today than were heralding a new administration yesterday,” said Jenny Starr, one of several who spoke after the group made a brief march along Lighthouse Road and back to the stage on the Books To Be Red lawn on School Road.
Starr, who works for Greenpeace, urged the group donate to the causes they believe in and to call their Congressional representatives every day to tell them how they feel about their issues.
She gave out the number 202-225-3121 that folks can simply call, key in their zip code and ask to connected to their representative.
“It’s time for power to come back to the people,” said islander Mitzi Crall in an interview before the march. “We just need to be heard. Donald Trump is mouthing those words. Let’s just see what happens.”
Antonia Ortiz, speaking through an interpreter, said she and her son, Angel Hernandez, and daughter, Amy, attended the march to prove that she is not going to follow what some current voices are promoting.
“Just because the President says (something), I believe that women have rights and will follow that,” she said. Her poster said, “We will not accept ‘He won. Get over it.'”
Sundae Horn, owner of the online newspaper Ocracoke Current and who organized the effort and led the activities, said the march was close to her heart.
“My husband talked me out of going to Washington, D.C.,” she said. “We were looking for local rallies but decided to do one here. I did it for my college daughter, Caroline. I’m glad we had it here.”
Caroline and her friends Jordan Novak and Abby Gregson also had created lots of posters to carry in the march.
Rob Temple, Horn’s husband, noted that it was better to have more rallies across the country than more people in the nation’s capital, which news sources reported estimates of about 450,000 attendees on Saturday.
Across the nation, major and minor cities also had their own rallies.
“Boston was expecting 20,000 people and had 200,000,” noted Mary Vankevich, who also read “Still I Rise,” a poem by May Angelou.
Horn, Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro led off the remarks with a rousing rendition of “Sister Suffragettes,” from the movie “Mary Poppins.”
Pat Garber, who helped organized the event with Horn, sang a few songs with Brenner and Castro; Liz Hotchkiss read the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty; Betty Lease read an excerpt from former President Barack Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope”; Nancy Aldridge recited a piece by Rose Pere, a Maori native of New Zealand; Horn read a piece on feminism by Belle Hook; and Leslie Lanier, owner of Books To Be Red, read a piece by Nelson Hopkins Jr, a 17-year-old who was shot dead in December 2009 as he was walking home from a bus stop with his college application in his pocket.
Though Lanier’s family has guns for duck hunting, she said they do not have handguns.
“Our kids need to be safe,” she said.
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