Thousands of Pittsburghers congregated at the City-Council Building Downtown Sunday, Jan. 22, 2018, carrying signs supporting women’s rights, wearing “pussy hats” and gathering support for local candidates.
Held one year after the first march, the 2018 Women’s March pushed concrete changes through activism with the organizers adding a theme to the event — “Power to the Polls.”
Here are a few of the marchers in Pittsburgh reflecting on how they’ve tried to create change since President Donald Trump’s election.
Polly Whitehorn, 66, Mount Washington
Whitehorn went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., last year, which increased her political engagement, she said. Since Trump’s election she has been in contact with her elected representatives — “writing, calling, letting them know my opinion on a daily basis.”
Cheyne Francis, 20, a student at IUP (left), and Cydney Francis, 19, a student at Chatham
The Francis sisters said they had to tolerate more ignorance and racism after Trump’s election. The days following the election were “scary at school,” Cheyne said.
But Cydney said events like the Women’s March are a sign that “people are supportive of minorities and women.”
“It’s great to be here with like-minded people, to hug people and talk to people,” Cheyne said.
Karen Justham, 55, Apollo
Justham is an introvert, she said, which makes her unlikely to knock on doors, canvassing for a candidate she supports. She is donating to candidates she agrees with on issues that are important to her — specifically someone who supports women’s rights and protection for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Katelyn Shearer, 37, Morningside
In 2008 and 2012, Shearer worked on Barack Obama’s campaigns. But, she said, after having kids and becoming busier, she was less involved in the 2016 election.
“I’m kicking myself for that now,” she said.
After Trump’s election, she’s become more politically active again and plans to work on upcoming local elections.
Cathy Greenspan, 61, Shadyside
After the election, Greenspan said she’s become much more aware of the daily news and also researched more about how the government works. She participated in Tuesdays with Toomey — a weekly protest outside the offices of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey — but still feels it has been “not nearly enough.”
Cadance Foster, 50, Homewood
“We all decided we have to do more grassroots engagement,” Foster said of her reaction to Trump’s election. She said her community of Homewood has been neglected by the government for years, so she didn’t see much a change with Trump.
She hopes the “progress made with the election of Obama” will continue to get more people in her community involved in politics.
Emma Hosman, 26, East Liberty (left), and Mallory Hudson, 24, Stanton Heights
Hudson, a social work graduate student at Pitt, and Hosman, a graduate student in Pitt’s School of Public Health, both worked on Mik Pappas’ campaign for magisterial district judge. Hudson said Pappas’ “restorative justice campaign” aligned with her values. It also seemed to align with voters, as Pappas won the election, unseating a 24-year incumbent.
Hosman said Trump’s election has changed the focus of her job in improving public health. In the current political climate, her work is now more focused on serving minority and immigrant communities, and dealing with the opioid crisis, she said.
Angela Du, 25, Oakland
Du, a medical student at Pitt, plans to go into OB-GYN after school.
“It’s personal,” she said of her reasons for going into the profession. “Women need advocates for their bodies.”
She said Trump’s election and the Republican control of Congress has made her work more important. She wants to be able to council women even if the “political system wants to limit their rights.”