Women's Marches end with eyes on the midterms

Protests continue on anniversary of first march

By DAKIN ANDONE, CNN
Headline Goes Here Jordan Bebout via CNN

People gather in Jacksonville, Florida for the 2018 Women's March.

(CNN) - Thousands of demonstrators filed into the Sam Boyd Stadium near Las Vegas on Sunday, the culmination of a weekend in which dozens of Women's Marches took place in cities across the United States. At each of them, attendees called for women's rights and equality while urging supporters and allies to make their voices heard by voting in this year's midterm elections.

The Las Vegas rally -- expected to be the largest on Sunday -- was the official anniversary rally of last year's Women's Mach in Washington, and was largely focused on using activism to generate concrete action at the ballot box.

"We have to march together, we have to organize together, we have to mobilize together and we have to vote together, even when we don't like one another," said Tamika Mallory, co-chairwoman of the national Women's March organization, in Las Vegas.

"We have the power to change every policy and make every elected official work for us, but they cannot see division among us, because they will go and do nothing for the people," she said. "We must stand up and be loud and be bold."

Sunday's marches were held one year from the day that hundreds of thousands of women, donning pink hats, took to the streets of Washington in a stunning display of resistance to President Donald Trump, whose administration many feared could threaten women's rights.

Besides Las Vegas, marches were schedule in Seattle, Miami, Phoenix and many other cities across the country and around the world.

The demonstrations came one day after hundreds of thousands of men, women and children took to the streets in Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and other cities Saturday on the one-year anniversary of Trump's inauguration.

Marches weren't limited to the United States. Over the weekend, activists gathered in cities across Europe, including London on Sunday and Rome on Saturday.

#PowerToThePolls

Speakers at the national Women's March rally in Las Vegas turned their gaze on midterm electoral races in Nevada and other states.

"Today is about what we are really gonna do," said Cassady Fendlay, a spokeswoman and board member for the national Women's March organization, about the Las Vegas rally. "It's really about electoral engagement in 2018."

The national organization anticipates holding events similar to the one in Las Vegas in battleground states throughout the year as part of a national effort to energize female voters, said Fendlay.

Nevada was picked as the site of the official anniversary rally in part because of the upcoming races for the US Senate and the governor's office, Fendlay told CNN. It's also a state that has a strong showing of female politicians.

"Today, we march in the streets, then we march to vote, then we march into the halls of government -- into statehouses, school boards and the US Congress," said Rep. Dina Titus, who serves the 1st Congressional District of Nevada, via video statement. "So much is at stake, and women can make the difference for our children, our Dreamers, our environment and our economy."

The singer Cher made an appearance late in the rally, opening with a condemnation of the President and his behavior.

"I have never seen anyone like the President that we have -- I can't even call him the president -- that has been willing to destroy our country for money and power," she said.

Cher encouraged women to get out and "own" the vote, adding, "if you don't have a vote, you don't have a voice."

"This is one of the worst times in our history and that's why I honestly believe that women are going to be the ones that fix it," Cher said. "And that's no b******t because, you know, if you want a job done right, get a woman."

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, celebrated the efforts of women of color in elections last year, while urging white women to recognize the role they have to play to help bring change to women of color and their communities.

"It is not up to women of color to save this country from itself. That's on all of us. That's on all of us," Richards told the crowd. "The good news is, when we're in full-on sisterhood, women are the most powerful political force in America."

Why they marched

Politics weren't the only thing on demonstrators' minds. The marches also coincided with the recent #MeToo and Time's Up movements against sexual assault and harassment. Carrying signs, demonstrators voiced their support for women's rights and equality and the cultural shift that has rocked numerous industries and communities in the past few months.

Rachel Baxa marched in Boise, Idaho, with her 2-year-old daughter Georgia in tow.

Baxa said she was motivated to march "by a myriad of things," including a certain "horrific phrase" said by the President.

"The fact that my daughter would grow up to be something that could be reduced to mere gruesome locker room talk by the type of man who could earn the presidency in this country. I was terrified," Baxa told CNN via Instagram. She said she herself had been sexualized and seen her ability to make choices about her body taken from her.

"I want to take steps to make it clear that subjecting my daughter to the same was not an option," she said. "This is her second march, it will not be her last."

Kari Whaley, 30, brought her 8-year-old son to Sunday's march in Orlando.

"I did not march last year," Whaley told CNN, but "I'm marching this year to empower women to go to the polls in this midterm election."

Ellen Bowen participated in her second march this year, also in Miami. But it was her first in the United States, she said. Last year, she was in Toronto "as I couldn't bear being in the USA on Inauguration Day."

Hollie S. Chambers marched in Miami, carrying a sign that said, "A woman's place is in the revolution!"

This year's march was Chambers' first, she told CNN via Instagram. "I recently moved to Florida from NJ," Chambers said, "and wanted to get started in advocacy in my new community."

Anna-Maria Watz joined the Women's March in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sunday. It was her first, she told CNN.

"I attended this year because 2017 really demonstrated that we need to speak up; raise our voices and opinions," the 45-year-old said, adding that the dawn of the #MeToo movement was a powerful and eye-opening moment for her.

Together, the #MeToo movement and the Women's March has given Watz a new perspective.

"And that's why I will take every opportunity to show support in forums like this one today," Watz said. "Every little step we take together for a good cause will take us into a better future."

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