Across the nation, thousands of men, women and children walked in solidarity for women’s rights. Gulfport was no different. Mid-Saturday morning, January 18, more than 600 people flooded the common ground outside the Gulfport Casino on Shore Blvd. S. for one purpose: to express their desire for equality.
Susan Koenig, organizer of Gulfport’s second Women’s March for Social Justice, the only women’s march in Pinellas County, was astounded by the turnout, which was three times greater than the previous year.
“I didn’t feel like getting on a bus and going to Washington, D.C.,” stated Koenig. “People seemed so grateful that we had our own march and [that we] didn’t wait for other cities to do it for us. Everyone wants to have a chance to express him/herself and all feedback was wonderfully positive.”
As the crowd continued to grow, pre-march speakers Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, Pinellas County School Board member and 2020 Democratic candidate for District 7 County Commissioner Rene Flowers, and former Gulfport City Councilmember Yolanda Roman pumped the crowd up.
“I am the product of some very strong, compassionate and resilient women,” stated Mayor Henderson. “I’m not here to lead you. I’m not here to follow you. I’m here to walk with you. I am here to tell you I couldn’t be prouder of Gulfport to host this.”
A few folks with opposing views rode by in their vehicles, yelling “It’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” through a bullhorn. The crowd responded with deafening chants of “This is what democracy looks like!”
“The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change,” according to womensmarch.com, the organization that started this event four years ago in Washington, D.C. “We believe that Women’s rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.”