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Illinois Women Make Their Voices Heard

Thousands participated in marches for human rights in Illinois this weekend, and were urged to stay involved in their communities and in politics. (V. Carter)
Thousands participated in marches for human rights in Illinois this weekend, and were urged to stay involved in their communities and in politics. (V. Carter)
January 23, 2017

CHICAGO -- Illinois had one of the largest Women's Marches in the country over the weekend, and organizers say their next goal is to make sure the calls for equal treatment and social justice continue.

Marches were held across the state on Saturday, including in Carbondale, Rockford and Springfield. The event in Chicago was so big that the group didn't march to Federal Plaza downtown as planned due to safety concerns.

Organizer Ann Sholhammer said she and her colleagues adjusted the plan after Chicago Police told them there were about 250,000 people at Grant Park.

"They just said, 'Look at what you guys did' - I mean, they were so overjoyed themselves - and they said, 'What do you want to do?' And I went back to my co-chairs and we were just like, 'We broke Chicago, I think!’” Sholhammer said.

Organizers from around the country estimate that crowd totals were in the millions at Women’s Marches from the nation's capital to cities around the world on President Donald Trump's first full day in office. The rallying cry at many of the events was, "Welcome to your first day - we will not go away!"

Thousands of men and children joined the women at the marches. Participant Pete Koenig said he came to support his wife, his mother, and his daughters.

"I think it's really important to remind Washington that there were almost 3 million people more that voted for Hillary than Donald Trump,” Koenig said, "and it's really important that all voices are heard with the new administration."

Illinois State University student Dani Black said she couldn't join a bus caravan that left from Bloomington/Normal for the Washington, D.C., rally, so she traveled to the march in Chicago. She said she's still reeling from November's election.

"It was my first time being able to vote,” she said. "I voted in New York City, and I was so proud walking out of there with a bunch of girlfriends, voting for what we thought would be the first female president of the country - and waking up the next morning and knowing that we were walking to class teary-eyed."

Speakers at many of the rallies urged people to channel their energy into work that improves their communities - including running for office.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL