More than 100 people crowded Crescent City sidewalks Sunday, from Crescent Elk Middle School to U.S. Highway 101, sporting pink hats and spirited signs for the annual nationwide Women’s March.
“I get involved every chance I can, because this is our community,” said Sheryl Steinruck, a Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation tribal member and one of the protesters.
“Our community is what we make of it. So, if we do our part and share in that load, it makes it better, and then it gives pride to the younger kids that come along.”
The Women’s March originated in 2017 on the day following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drawing crowds in cities across the nation.
The official Women’s March website states its purpose “is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.”
Four years later, the march’s numbers have decreased in the major cities, according to National Public Radio, but Del Norte County succeeds each year in bringing a group of vocal protestors to the streets.
“To register the Democrat in Del Norte County is an act of resistance,” said Lynn Szabo, one of the women on the march’s planning committee. “I think this county gets overlooked… A lot of people here are Republican.”
Denise Doyle-Schnacker has been instrumental in planning Crescent City’s Women’s Marches in past years. Together with a group of women, she began planning Sunday’s protest last August.
“Denise is a wonderful organizer and she’s done a lot of these,” said Szabo. “She knows the community and has the exceptional talent of being able to talk with multiple people in the community.”
For the event’s organizers, the march means more than simply showing up. They challenged participants to dedicate 2020 to community and public service, citing the Facebook page Step Up Del Norte as a resource for finding volunteer opportunities.
“It’s important that we march, but I also think we use this as an opportunity to decide what we are going to do tomorrow,” Szabo said. “They look at this [as] what they are going to be doing on the next day to take action.”
Sunday’s event began in the Crescent Elk Middle School auditorium, with speakers presenting on LGBTQIA+ rights, Indigenous people’s rights, reproductive health care, racial justice, and immigration and environmental issues.
From there, the participants walked down G Street to Fifth Street and finished on U.S. Highway 101, all the while waving signs reading, among other things, “No Justice, No Peace” and “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”
“I’m following through with the things my parents and my ancestors asked me to do, and that’s pay it forward. Do your best to make this place a better place when you leave than when you came,” Steinruck said.
One of the milestones celebrated by the marchers was the State of Virginia signing the Equal Rights Amendment this week, a measure that commits to guaranteeing equal rights for all U.S. citizens regardless of gender.
The amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, but needed ratification by 38 states. Virginia became that 38th state.
On the back of the march’s program, the organizers advertised a time to thank legislators and state leaders for their support of the Equal Rights Amendment. They said those who would like to participate in making Valentine’s Day cards to thank leaders can join Nancy Stemkoski at 1303 Northcrest Dr. on Feb. 4 from 6-7 p.m.