Politics & Government

Hundreds rally for Women’s March Modesto as they celebrate their success at the polls

Rep. Josh Harder revs up Women’s March Modesto protesters

Women’s March Modesto returns for its third year. Hundreds took part in what has turned into a grassroots progressive movement.
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Women’s March Modesto returns for its third year. Hundreds took part in what has turned into a grassroots progressive movement.

After marching last year to get people to the polls, this year’s Women’s March Modesto celebrated their successes.

Hundreds came out Saturday morning for the third annual march, which originally began as a protest to Donald Trump’s election and since has turned into a grassroots progressive movement. Marches were held simultaneously in Washington, D.C., and across the country, though the local march is organized independently from the national organization.

At the Modesto march more than 400 people took part, starting at McHenry and Briggsmore avenues and ending at Graceada Park. While it was a drop-off from the 1,000 and 1,200 who attended the first two years, among the participants represented some of the hard-fought results of their organizing. They included newly elected officials Rep. Josh Harder and state Sen. Anna Caballero, who both flipped their seats from Republican to Democratic control in the midterm elections.

March chairwoman Patty Hughes said she was encouraged by the turnout and the enthusiasm in the crowd. Stockton held its first Women’s March event this year, which probably siphoned off some of the previous year’s participants. Still people came from as far away as the Sierra Nevada foothills to march, carry signs and chant.

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Protesters rally on McHenry Avenue before the during the Modesto Women’s March in Modesto, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

“The issues are still there, so we’re still marching,” said Jan Michel, 66, who came with a group of about half a dozen friends from the Copperopolis and Angels Camp area.

This year’s Women’s March Modesto was also a show of solidarity between the other progressive marches that took place in the past year including the March for Our Lives against gun violence and the Families Belong Together March against immigrant family separations.

Marchers stretched across about four blocks while many waved homemade signs and wore pussy hats, the now iconic pink knit caps popularized by the first march in 2017. Some pushed walkers while others pushed strollers. They were regularly greeted by a chorus of supportive honks from passing cars, and the occasional driver screaming pro-Trump slogans.

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Marchers walk along McHenry Avenue during the Modesto Women’s March in Modesto, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

This was the third march for Turlock couple Mario de sa Campos and Shannon Andrews and their three children, who have marched with them each year. Twelve-year-old Thea de sa Campos made her own sign, which read, “Don’t judge me by what my gender is.”

When the march reached Graceada Park, more than 20 booths were set up from nonprofit and political groups. Speakers included Harder, Caballero and event organizers. Harder, who was among several Democratic candidates running for then-Rep. Jeff Denham’s seat when he participated last year, called this year’s march “a celebration.”

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Congressman Josh Harder speaks at Graceada Park after the Modesto Women’s March in Modesto, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

“If we think back, I remember a year ago, when we were here — the last Women’s March a year ago — marching along with each and every one of you, there was so much energy, so much excitement, so much hope as we were walking and talking about the issues we cared about.” he said. “There were some folks who said the energy that was reflected at the Women’s March two years ago was not going to last ... We proved those skeptics wrong. We proved them wrong on Nov. 6, 2018.”

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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