ITHACA, N.Y. — On Jan 21, more than 400 Ithacans will board 12 buses to Washington D.C., taking to the streets as part the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. to demonstrate that women’s rights are humans rights, and that people will stand with the most vulnerable community members in the face of hardship.

For the people making the hours long trip and braving the cold, those aren’t just words. Those are values some people feel are under threat by the impending Donald Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, a woman named Teresa Shook started a Facebook group to organize people to march in Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration as a show of solidarity. More than 100,000 people are now expected to attend the unprecedented event.

The Washington Post reported, “The march has become a catch-all for a host of liberal causes, from immigrant rights to police killings of African Americans. But at its heart is the demand for equal rights for women after an election that saw the defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major party.”

Ithacan Shawna Black was one of the people who saw the march on Facebook and felt compelled to take action locally.

“For us, it was really a way after the election to do something positive and do something — a way to have an impact,” Black said. “I feel like everyone has different reasons why they are marching.”

She said she is a lesbian who has been married to her partner for 21 years. The two women have three half-Chinese children.

“I feel like my family has a lot at stake,” she said, adding that many people feel the same way.

So she pulled out her personal credit card, booked a charter bus to Washington D.C. and started a Facebook group so people in Ithaca could coordinate a group trip.

“That one sold out in, I think that one took a few hours,” she said.

She booked another bus that took about four minutes to sell out, and by the time she booked a few more, they sold out within 45 seconds, Black said.

“I feel like instead of hanging out at home and being angry about what’s going on…this really gives us a voice,” she said.

Since then she has gathered with a slew of other activists and participants, including co-organizers Erin Kerr and Laura Whiting Dolch, to prepare for the trip — making posters, soliciting donations for snacks and drinks, and most importantly, ensuring that scholarship seats are available for those who cannot afford the $75 ticket.

About 412 people are slated to travel to D.C. with the group and about 10 percent of those bus seats are scholarship seats. Black said the intention behind the seats was to lend a hand to people who might otherwise not be able to attend the event, particularly low-income women of color.

Also helping with the trip by funding items, such as hand warmers and snacks, are GreenStar Cooperative Market, Moosewood Restauran, Shortstop Deli, Emmy’s Organics and C.S.P Management.

The diversity of voices is what she and other organizers wanted, and they’ve been able to hear some of those voices at meetings.

“It was eye-opening to hear everyone’s story,” Black said about a meet-up about a month ago.

Since then, she’s met more participants at sign-making and organizing events.

“I think whenever you have such a passionate group of people, whether it’s 100 or 500 or 2,000…the whole idea is really for our voices to be heard.”

For information about carpooling to D.C. with an Ithaca group or to make a donation, visit the Woman March on D.C. — Ithaca Group Facebook page. 

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.