Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Thousands assemble for second Women’s March on Williamsburg

 

“This whole town was built on protests.  This whole area and this whole country was built on protests.  Where would be a better place for these people to express themselves?”-Kathy Hornsby

On January 21, 2017, approximately 700 people gathered in Colonial Williamsburg for a local Women’s March to show support for women’s rights. 

Saturday, that number more than doubled to 2,000, and the event, as well as the message, was more focused.

“Last year was more like an organic feeling, everyone just wanted to get out there and express themselves, said Meg Olsen, a member of Common Ground Williamsburg, an organization formed after last year’s march to ensure better coordination in the future. 

“This year there are more practical applications.  We are connecting people to more local groups if they are interested in registering voters and actual activities.”

A diverse and celebratory crowd of women, men and children of all ages and backgrounds carried signs and joined forces, assembling at the Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse on Duke of Gloucester Street for a handful of speeches before commencing their march down the historic city street to the Capitol Building, then returning on the same street before dispersing shortly before Merchant’s Square.

Elizabeth Polster, also a member of Common Ground Williamsburg, emphasized the importance of the political issues over parties. 

“We are a non-partisan group, it’s not just about flipping votes from Republican to Democratic, it’s about focusing on issues regardless of what party you vote with, we hope for agreement on these issues as the reason people turn out to vote,” said Polster.   

“We’re not a resistance group, we don’t want to be,” continued Polster.  “We want to work in the community.  The name of the group is Common Ground.  We want to learn from those who we haven’t heard from before.  We want to educate ourselves and educate others.”

Local resident Stephanie Folsom wondered about the impact the march would have on the community, especially on tourism. 

“If I were a member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, why would I think this is a good idea?  You’re going to have tourists who have spent a lot of money to get here, some of them might think this is a great idea, but some of them might be very disappointed that they have to witness this.” 

Williamsburg resident Kathy Hornsby, hearing Folsom’s concerns, expressed her point of view.

“This whole town was built on protests.  This whole area and this whole country was built on protests.  Where would be a better place for these people to express themselves?”

Other notes:

Scheduled speakers on Saturday included Jackie Brideforth-Williams, the Village; Elaine Luria, a candidate in the second Congressional district; Ryan Sawyers, a candidate in the first Congressional district; Shelly Simonds, 2017 candidate for delegate in Virginia’s 94th district; and Vangie Williams, a candidate in the first Congressional district.

According to organizers, many local groups, including Common Ground Williamsburg, a co-sponsor of this year’s march, were born in the weeks after the 2017 march as both first-time organizers and seasoned activists.

 

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