Organizers of the state Capitol rally that drew 10,000 people to protest President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year — one of many demonstrations held worldwide in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington — are planning a similar rally on Saturday.
A march will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Corning Fountain in Bushnell Park and arrive at the rear of the Capitol at 1 p.m., where a series of speakers will take the stage for the next two hours.
In addition to speakers and a voter registration drive, the event will feature representatives from a number of the progressive organizations that have formed since Trump’s election, including groups like Action Together Connecticut and Indivisible Connecticut. Both groups have taken credit for helping to drive Democrats to the polls in the recent municipal elections.
“We’re definitely going to be reflecting on and celebrating our success, our continuing to resist, but we’re also putting out another call to action,” said Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford, who attended the march in Washington last year and is helping to organize this year’s event in Hartford. “The work is not yet done.”
State Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, spoke at the Capitol rally last year and will speak again on Saturday.
Bye said fears from a year ago that the newfound energy would quickly dissipate turned out to be unfounded.
“I think what can’t be missed is that it wasn’t just Hillary Clinton didn’t win and Donald Trump did,” she said. “A lot of this is really about the policies that have happened.”
Bye is a co-founder of PoliticaCT, a political organization with the goal of electing progressive women to state office.
“We’re going to keep working on these issues” at the state level, she said, citing paid family medical leave as an example. Legislation to enact that policy did not get a vote last year, but Bye expects it will gain more traction during this legislative session.
“I think that will be very different and that’s a sign of the impact of these people post-election,” she said.
Kate Farrar, executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, another scheduled speaker, said more legislators have been responding positively to “pressure” to support paid family medical leave.
“I think that our political environment is one in which we are in an election cycle where current elected officials and candidates need to show what they are going to stand for,” she said. “We aren’t going to see momentum [for paid family medical leave] like this on the national level, and Connecticut really needs to be a leader.”
Cindy Wolfe Boynton, president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women, also plans to speak at Saturday’s rally. She said there has yet to be the type of “culture change” that will lead to results like closing the gender pay gap or seeing an equal number of men and women serving in leadership positions in the workforce.
“A year ago we were mad, furious and baffled,” Boynton said. “We couldn’t believe what happened. Now we are all staring open-mouthed at the news every day. A year later people are looking and saying, ‘Common sense did not reign. Give me a job, send me on a mission.’”
Gilchrest said the recent #MeToo movement, which has exposed numerous instances of sexual harassment in Hollywood, has served to further empower the women who have gotten politically active since Trump’s election. She recently announced her campaign for state representative.
“I think the #MeToo movement is a direct result of the Trump administration and women seeing that when we stand together our voices are heard,” she said. “There is power in numbers. And so my hope is that momentum will continue on to the polls.”
Other speakers on Saturday will include U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty; Wildaliz Bermudez, a Hartford city councilwoman; Laura Cordes, executive director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Assault; Samia Hussein, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; and Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.
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