Local women united in step to voice a collaborative cry last weekend. Both here and in the nation’s capital, Steel City women took to the streets to demonstrate solidarity in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“I have never marched in Washington before, but I think it is important,” Karen Hochberg, former executive director of Pittsburgh Area Jewish Community, said prior to departing for the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, a political rally that attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters. “Just as Barack Obama was held accountable, Donald Trump should be held accountable.”
The mass gathering on Jan. 21 was intended to “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,” explained organizers.
“The main thing is we have made huge strides under the [Obama] administration in all of these areas and we are now concerned that we may take some backwards steps,” noted Laurie Gottlieb, president of National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh Chapter.
In an email to supporters, Gottlieb and Andrea Glickman, NCJW Pittsburgh’s executive director, reiterated that message by calling attention to the national march and promoting local activities coinciding with the D.C. gathering.
“Women’s issues are everyone’s issues, and protecting the rights, freedoms and justice of all communities is important. If we can take this stand by participation in the marches then that’s what we should do,” explained Gottlieb.
Beth Grill of Pittsburgh spoke to a reporter while en route to Washington.
“I’m driving now and there are license plates from all over and [we’re] all going in the same direction. It’s kind of cool,” she said.
Seated alongside Grill was her daughter Sarah, a 12th-grader at Taylor Allderdice High School.
“I went to the Hillary [Clinton] rally when she was at Allderdice and the one after the election at Pitt,” noted Sarah Grill.
Traveling to Washington with her daughter offered a dual purpose, explained the elder Grill. Not only is it “important” for Sarah to see “how it’s a national movement,” but “obviously we are all pretty disappointed about the election and this is a good opportunity to do something about it.”
A sense of regret and a need for action fueled Elizabeth Goldberg to fly from Pittsburgh to Washington for the march.
“As a woman, I feel the election was a double affront — the disappointment that we will not have a female president and the election of [someone] whose behavior is [openly] sexist, and his policies, in my opinion, are unfavorable to women,” said Goldberg.
“A lot of us feel very targeted by the incoming administration,” added Becca Ackner of Pittsburgh. “I want to be at the March to assert myself and celebrate, and support women and women’s issues; to stand up and declare that I am here and I matter, and as a woman, my values and existence and concerns cannot be dismissed,” Goldberg said.
Because work and other concerns prevented Ackner from traveling to Washington, she planned to divide her time between two Pittsburgh marches.
The Pittsburgh Sister March began in downtown Pittsburgh, while the Our Feminism Must Be Intersectional Rally/
March began in East Liberty. The latter ended at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, which was hosting the 19th annual Summit Against Racism. Both joined sister marches in 50 states and 27 countries.
“We need unity now more than ever,” said Ackner, and what these gatherings offered was “a place to put your feet in the streets and fight for justice and make your voice heard.”
Gottlieb, who did not travel to Washington, hoped that the message of the marches stretches across genders and reaches diverse audiences.
“When I talk about rights for our community, I’m talking about reproductive rights, worker rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQIA rights, racial justice [and] environmental rights — all of these things we are now worried about with the new administration,” she explained.
“I think no matter what the stakes are too high to be silent and we cannot let these differences further divide us when the time is really now to unite,” she said.
Said Gottlieb, “We fought hard for this kind of social justice and these fundamental human rights. If we need to refight for these rights then we will.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.