Springfield was among the hundreds of cities worldwide Saturday where marchers raised their voice in support of women’s rights.
The grassroots movement, whose main march in Washington, D.C. drew an estimated 500,000 participants, invited individuals and organizations committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Estimates put the Springfield crowd at around 2,000.
Marchers carried homemade signs reading “I will not be silent,” “Love more fear less,” and “I march for all woman kind.” Some signs, including ones referencing “tiny hands” and “nasty women” were directed against President Donald Trump, who had been sworn into office the day before.
On its website, the march’s mission starts by stating, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us." It goes on to say Saturday's event “will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights.”
Chants like “My body, my choice,” and “I know that we will win” rang throughout the Springfield crowd. As the marchers settled into Park Central Square downtown they heard from a diverse group of women.
Bethany Johnson, a transgender student at Missouri State University, implored citizens to participate in the city’s April 4 election.
“If you are not registered, there are people here who will register you. Or you get your butt down to the county clerk’s office and you register!” Johnson directed from the podium.
Her passionate speech drew the loudest cheers from the crowd.
Afterward Johnson told KSMU that although she has always been vocal she has never been this active until now.
“I think this time of America has woken me up,” Johnson said. “There has just been so many scary stuff happening and I think people need to get active.”
Johnson said her purpose Saturday was to “’raise a little hell’ with these people in office and let them know that we are here and we are not going to put up with it”.
Democratic State Rep. Crystal Quade of Springfield, who was elected to the 132nd District Seat in November, told the crowd that she is “standing in solidarity with everyone.”
“Obviously there are several thousands of people in Springfield for some reason, each individual reason, they are worried, scared, whether that be for their rights, issues that they care about, or their personal rights. I want to be here today along with everyone else to show that Springfield cares, we are listening,” she said.
For Quade, in addition to the many individual issues, her main focus is that women feel confident to get involved.
“It’s about women having a voice and being part of the conversation,” Quade said.