An estimated 2,000 people from across the Central Valley came to the Fresno Women’s March Saturday to express concerns they had about the current government.
It was an opportunity for some to speak up for those who didn’t feel like their concerns about the new government transition were heard. Many anticipated the “millennials” to march but the sidewalks were filled with older people, families and young children.
Although the march was not pointed directly at President Donald Trump, many expressed their dissatisfaction of his inauguration.
The march was one of many that occurred throughout various cities across the United States and abroad on Saturday, a day after the inauguration. It was estimated that over 2 million marched, including over half a million in Washington D.C., just blocks away from the White House.
There were a number of signs that floated across the crowds of people protesting including “Equality is Not a Crime,” “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance” and “Stand Up, Speak Up, Don’t Ever Give Up”.
The two-hour march began at the corner of Blackstone and Nees Avenues, went to El Paso Avenue and circled back to the busy intersection.
Erlinda Mejia, a Fresno resident, came to fight for values she has believed in for years.
“I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I was there and voted for Roe v. Wade, women’s rights, for equality in the workforce,” Mejia said. “To see the possibility of everything being lost again for my daughter, for my grandkids I just can’t live with myself if I don’t do something.”
Mejia believes current government officials are focusing on their own benefits. She hopes that the marches across the country show the impact the American people have.
“I want them to hear our voices, I want them to understand that they shouldn’t be doing this out of money and out of profit,” Mejia said. “They got voted into office to be our voices and yet we’re the ones being ignored.”
Speaking up against something that is wrong is what Mejia strived to do and encourages others to continue to do.
“Never stay quiet, always speak up, you will be heard and change starts with one person,” Mejia said.
There were groups of people that traveled from nearby cities to partake in what they believe is a “part of history”. Melinda Barrett and Diane Hagood from Oakhurst came to march for rights they felt passionately about.
“It feels really important to let people know that we don’t all agree with what Donald Trump is saying. We feel everybody is equal and deserves their rights,” Barrett said. “There’s a lot of great things we have that he threatens like healthcare, equality, voting rights and the environment.”
Backlash from those against their actions was a concern for Barrett and the group she marched with. She was pleased with the support they received from those driving past the march.
“We’re getting a lot of support from the people driving by and really this is why we live in America, so that people can make their voices heard,” Barrett said.
The march also brought back a lot of memories for Hagood. This was not her first time being a part of a protest. Her actions began back during the times of the Vietnam War. She had the courage to come back and march for her beliefs.
“It takes a lot for me to want to go out in public and say I feel strongly and I do feel strongly about human rights,” Hagood said.
After being asked why she believed so many older people were coming back to march Hagood said it was because of all the new changes. There were now things up for debate that affect millions of people in America.
“This is kind of a big wake-up call,” Hagood said. “I feel so many factors that affect people are at risk.”
There were also a large number of families that marched together in support of each other and what they believed in. There were strollers in the march as well as small toddlers marching with their own small signs.
Annie Flanagan came to march with her small children to show them the power and importance respecting everyone.
“We wanted to show our kids our ideals and values. We respect everyone and we think everyone should have equal rights,” Flanagan said, “The things that Trump says are not OK, we don’t want to normalize those by remaining silent.”
Flanagan is very pleased to see how large this movement was such a short amount of time. She believed that these issues affect so many people and they’re all raising their concerns.
“There’s marches going on all over the country and the world, and I think it shows that there are lots of people that aren’t OK with the things that Trump says and that we don’t support those kind of policies,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan traveled from Coarsegold. Her family debated on which city to attend the march.
“We live in the foothills and we particularly came to Fresno because we knew it would be more diverse. It’s important for our kids to see that the world is diverse and our country’s diverse and that’s important and something to celebrate,” Flanagan said.
Kevin Flanagan, Annie’s husband, said Americans have the right to protest things we see that are unequal in our country.
“Welcome to democracy. This is democracy in action. It’s not always convenient but this is important and people fought and died for this right to be able to come out here,” Flanagan said, “We’re being totally peaceful, this is a beautiful thing especially here in Fresno. It’s beautiful to see other people here that share our values.”
Flanagan said that the American people will fight for what’s right until the end of time.
“I would say that the election was not the end but the beginning,” Flanagan said. “The fight goes on and we’re out here to show people that we’re going to fight for the things we believe in.”