Pink hat-clad protesters with signs lined the mall near the Nebraska State Capitol, while shouts of “women’s rights are human rights” rang out as attendees participated in the third annual Women’s March on the cold Sunday afternoon of Jan. 27.
As attendees crowded the steps of the capitol, organizer Catherine Lohmeier led chants affirming rights for women, disabled people, workers, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.
Some speakers, like Amelia María de la Luz Montes, an English and ethnic studies associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, spoke about rights for the LGBTQ community.
De la Luz Montes, a self-proclaimed “proud, first-generation, Chicana, U.S. Latina Mexican-American lesbian,” celebrated the diversity in the LGBTQ community.
“LGBTQ [people] are gifted, brilliant individuals,” she said. “You need us. We are a vital, gorgeous fabric within this complex quilt of difference.”
De la Cruz Montes said people in the LGBTQ community face rejection because of cultural, societal and religious homophobia, but they also seek to stop those forms of rejection.
Colette Yellow Robe, originally from the Winnebago Reservation, emphasized the importance of Native American Reps. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland’s presence in the U.S. Congress.
“For over 200 years, there was never a Native American woman representing me in my Congress,” she said. “That day has changed.”
March attendees reacted to the presenters’ words with chants of “women’s rights are human rights.”
Attending the march was a first for Rachel Long, a senior advertising and public relations, broadcasting and German triple major at UNL, but she said going with a group of people was an important experience.
“We can spread noise about these issues and talk about it and actually do something,” she said. “So I think it’s important especially in Nebraska where it’s not as proactive with these kinds of issues and giving them a voice — I think that’s vital.”
Lincoln residents Stephen Griffith and Scott Young said it’s important to attend the march because it brings people together.
Young, who attended the 2018 march, said all women count and it’s important to show that through marches and other demonstrations.
“We need to keep pushing forward and not go back,” he said. “I think these events cause conversation and [Griffith and I] were just discussing how conversation moves things along.”
Griffith attended the marches in 2017 and 2018 and said the marches unite needs for justice across a broad spectrum of issues.
“All questions of justice interrelate,” he said. “We can’t deal with any one injustice unless we address others as well, and conversely, getting involved in one area will wind up leading us into other areas.”
Griffith said persistence and perseverance keep him coming to marches like Sunday’s because there is a need to continue working together to change things, even in mundane ways.
“[Those ways are] working on legislation, working to foster the conversation, keep engaging people in serious and honest conversation about issues,” he said. “And exploring together the ways that we can move toward a more just society, toward a fairer society, a more inclusive society.”