An estimated 200,000 people took to the streets of Seattle on Jan. 21 to stand up for the rights of women, minority groups, the LGBT community, the environment, healthcare, basic human kindness and a whole host of other issues in the Women’s March on Seattle.
And of the marchers, 952 came from Sammamish, Issaquah and Bellevue in buses with Sammamish-based Plateaupians for Peace, a group that focuses on treating others with respect and moving forwards in making the world a better place.
Plateaupians founders Sarah Hawes Kimsey, Cathia Geller, Liz Faaland and Kate Gordon organized 19 charter buses through Pacific Alaska Tours, Shuttle Express Tours and Beeline Charters to take the marchers from the Eastside to Judkins Park, the starting point for the event.
Saturday morning may be a traditional time to sleep in, but on the day of the Women’s March, 258 people were lined up and ready to go at the Issaquah Transit Center as the sun was rising. The line of marchers clad in “Pussyhats” (hand-knit pink stocking caps with cat ears worn by marchers to symbolize women’s rights) wrapped around the transit center.
Samantha Cook, a senior at Western Washington University, decided to forego the Women’s March in Bellingham to come down to Issaquah and join her mother, Donna Messner.
“I wanted to be with my mom — she’s the strongest person I know,” Cook said. “I’m marching because I want women to choose who and what they want to be. I feel [under the current administration] we’re forced to be lesser.”
Messner said that she was marching to “make love a verb. Love trumps hate.”
Cook and Messner were not the only mother-daughter duo from Issaquah. Plenty of teens and even children came out to join their moms in fighting for what they believed in.
“I’m a mom first, and my daughter is a teenager and she needs her needs represented as my mother represented mine in the 1970s,” said Julianne Pierson. Pierson said that she was “mostly worried about healthcare options,” a sentiment that her 11-year-old daughter, Riley Anne, echoed.
Riley Anne said that she once fractured her foot in a bicycle accident, and didn’t know what she would have done if she did not have access to good healthcare.
“My daughter … heard what was said on the campaign trail,” Julianne Pierson said. She said that a message she wanted to carry with her was, “Fear makes us stupid — don’t operate under fear.”
Thirteen-year-old Tayla Belikoff, who emigrated to America from South Africa when she was 4, said that she was “here to support all races, genders and religions.”
Her mother Sharice Belikoff witnessed the Apartheid era in South Africa and said that freedom for all different groups of people “is what brought us to this country nine years ago.”
“It’s really important that people in my age group are informed and educated about what’s going on in the world, the rights we don’t have,” said Olivia Sharek, a student at Issaquah High School. “There are a lot of people our age who don’t understand how important it is.”
“It feels like it’s time to stand up for what I believe in,” said Yvonne Grimes, who knitted the Pussyhat that she was wearing.
After the march finished up in the late afternoon, the Issaquah participants gathered in the buses with windblown cheeks, basking in the glow of the unifying experience.
“It felt like I was helping to change something,” said Jocelyn Simpson, 13. “We’re all standing together.”
Just because the march is in the past, however, does not mean the ladies will take a break from taking action.
“We are all working on putting together a list of links and action items for all of the people we helped to get to the march,” Geller said on the Monday following the march. “Many asked us what was next and what they could do; they were so energized after the march … We plan to put together whatever information we can find that will give people concrete opportunities to make a difference and harness the energy released by the march.”