By Christine Sampson
Hundreds of local women young and old, and even men and children, will make their way to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, headed for what is shaping up to be one of the largest political demonstrations in U.S. history.
The Women’s March on Washington will bring together thousands upon thousands of women, and their supporters, who say they are gathering in the capital to stand up for their rights. The march’s organizers have released a progressive platform that includes ending violence against women, preserving and expanding reproductive rights, and standing up for the rights of lesbian, queer, bisexual, and transgender women. The platform also includes support for equal pay and paid family leave as “workers’ rights,”support for the disabled and immigrants and environmental causes.
“We believe that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” the Women’s March organization says on its website.
Simultaneous “sister marches” are planned in cities across the country, according to the organization, including a demonstration in New York City, where many other East Enders are said to be headed.
After plans for the Washington, D.C., march began to form, activists from the East End, including Maryann Calendrille, the co-owner of Canio’s Books, and Martha Potter, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork, saw the need for some to step up and coordinate bus trips. In most cases, the majority of the bus seats were scooped up in a day or so, if not mere hours. Waiting lists formed for those who wanted in.
“I get from them a sense of a real obligation, a real concern about where we are, to show up and be a presence,” Ms. Calendrille said in an interview. “Some women are thinking of their daughters and granddaughters, future generations, and they’re just pissed off themselves. We have men coming as well who are supportive and equally concerned. I was really heartened by that.”
Ms. Calendrille attended rallies 25 years ago in support of women’s rights, and she feels “somewhat chagrined, because didn’t we do this already?”
“I think nothing compares with this right now,” she said. “We have to do it again. I wish we didn’t have to do it, but we have to do it.”
The bus she and Ms. Potter put together will bring 52 people to the march. Two buses coordinated by Melissa Sidor, a member of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, will carry about 50 South Fork residents, along with others from the Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County Democratic Committees. A bus leaving out of Hampton Bays, coordinated by Martha Belesis, will bring another 49 people to the march. Additional buses are departing from the North Fork. Twenty-eight members of the East End Chapter of Dining For Women have chartered another bus to Washington, D.C. And about 150 more will attend the rally on three buses leaving out of East Hampton and Bridgehampton, of which Kate Mueth was one of the organizers.
“People are realizing that it’s up to us to make the changes that need to be made, and stand up and let our voices be heard,” Ms. Mueth said. “That song by Janis Joplin goes, ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.’ I’m beginning to understand a little bit better what she meant.”