Thousands Gather For Women's March In Atlanta | WABE 90.1 FM

Thousands Gather For Women's March In Atlanta

Jan 21, 2017

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Atlanta, despite pouring rain and thunderstorms Saturday morning and early into the afternoon in response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

It was a sea of colors in front of the Center for Civil and Human Rights as people brought their handwritten signs, some wrapped in plastic for the rain.

Speakers, including Congressman John Lewis, rallied the crowd as they readied to march towards the Georgia State Capitol. Atlanta police estimated the total number of demonstrators to be around 60,000 people, having estimated about 10,000 people earlier in the day.

Lewis told the crowd they couldn’t afford to be silent.

“We’re going to send a message,” Lewis said. “I know something about marching.”

As Lewis took the stage, the crowd chanted “District Five! District Five!” in support of Lewis and in reaction to tweets Trump wrote about Lewis’s congressional district being “in horrible shape and falling apart.”

“I come here to say to you, don’t let anybody, anybody turn you around,” Lewis said. “And never, never ever give up, and never lose hope.”

Lewis boycotted Friday’s inauguration. In an NBC interview, Lewis said he didn’t see the President as “legitimate” because of questions about Russia’s interference with the U.S. elections.  Trump, in response, said in tweets that Lewis was “all talk” and that he should focus on his district.

Lewis, told the crowd to organize and register to vote, before he headed to the front of the crowd to be among the ones to lead the march.

“The next election we must get out and vote like we never ever voted before,” Lewis said.

Up at the very front of the march was Atlanta street performer, Baton Bob, wearing a corset and a red, sparkly masquerade mask, twirling his baton and blowing his whistle as led thousands of marchers through the streets.

Suzette Hearn of Lilburn came to the demonstration with her daughter Anne Huff, donning bright pink, cat-eared "pussy hats" that she knitted.  She said the hats that some others in the crowd and in marches across the country wore, were a symbol for women’s empowerment.

“I think it’s important to be ever vigilant, because you can so easily lose your rights,” Hearn said.

Other signs alluded to Trump’s comments about groping women’s genitals, made in a video that surfaced during the campaign. Trump has denied accusations of sexual assault.

One sign, held by a young girl, read “Keep your tiny hands off my rights.”

Among the crowd was Jimmy Kamanjoh of Lawrenceville, who held his 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, high up on his shoulders. He said he was marching in solidarity for women’s rights, but also for the rights of minorities and immigrants as someone who immigrated to the United States from Kenya.

“We want him to know that we are here, and we’re going to hold him accountable to his actions,” he said.

Rita Winings of Atlanta said the severe rain almost deterred her, but she was determined to march. The last time she marched, she said, was in the 60s against the Vietnam War. She said she came on Saturday because she was concerned about today’s political climate.  

“I have three little granddaughters, and I want the world to be a nicer place for them than it has been for me,” she said.

Her friend, Larry Wood, of Atlanta, said he was concerned about Trump’s agenda on issues including healthcare and gay rights.

“My husband and I were married about a year and a half ago, and I don’t want that overturned,” he said.

Wood said  he also disagrees with Trump’s characterization of the country.  In his augural address, Trump vowed to end what he called “American carnage.”

“There’s no carnage – it’s a beautiful place” Wood said. 

See more scenes from the Atlanta march below. 

[View the story "Atlanta Women's March" on Storify]

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