St. Pete Women’s March to Mirror National Event
The St. Pete march is one of hundreds planned across the country on Saturday (Jan. 21).
By SHELLY STECK REALE, TB Reporter Correspondent
ST. PETERSBURG – If there is one message Suzanne Benton wants to get out it’s this: “What looks impossible is possible.”
Take this Saturday’s Women’s March in St. Petersburg. Benton suggested the event, hoping to get 250 or so people to join her, Instead, 11,710 had signed up on eventbrite as of early this morning (Jan. 18).
“It starts with one voice. One idea,” Benton said. “You can’t kill an idea. You can’t. It spreads. I stood up and 11,000 people signed up.”
Organizers expect even more to sign up before the event, said Amy Weintraub, communication coordinator for the Women’s March, St. Pete. The number of those who have signed up grows by the hundreds every day, she said.
It all goes back to the seed planted by Benton, 81, a self-proclaimed “fiery, day-one feminist,” who spoke of a profound and deep division in the country intensified by the implications of November’s election results.
Benton said she wanted to be heard. To make a difference. She stood up in her Quaker meeting hall one day in mid-December and expressed a desire to have a march in St. Petersburg to show solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington.
The goal of the local event, like that of the national march, Benton said, is not organized as a protest against President-elect Donald Trump. Instead, organizers said they hope to highlight social and environmental issues that span the divide and that are especially important to the hundreds of thousands expected to march in Washington and in the more than 400 sister events across the U.S.
“We are here to give people courage,” Benton said. “Rights are not given; they are won. And sometimes they have to be re-won.
“March. March. March. Pick your cause and march on… not just with your feet, but with your involvement and with your commitment. Organize. Write your representatives, your senators, your Congress, your justices, your President. Go to their offices. Hold them accountable. We are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with, and this administration is going to realize it.”
The St. Pete Women’s March – also open to men – is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 21). It will begin and end at Demen’s Landing, Bayshore Drive and Second Avenue S. The march will wind through downtown St. Pete. Water will be provided along the route.
Music and other entertainment are planned before the marchers head onto the route. Among the scheduled speakers are St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, city Council member Darden Rice, Karen Lieberman of the Jewish Community, Dr. Suzie Prabhakaren of Planned Parenthood, and community activist Angela Rousson.
Kriseman is expected to present a non-political proclamation honoring women’s rights, and encouraging continued advocacy, according to Kevin King, the mayor’s chief of staff.
More than 30 causes and organizations will be on site to provide information and volunteer opportunities.
Parking is expected to be limited. There will be no parking available at Tropicana Field because those spaces are reserved for the 92nd East-West Shrine game. Organizers suggest carpooling, arriving several hours early, or using the Downtown Looper trolley. Disability access will be available for mobility impaired marchers at the entrance bridge to Demens Landing.
Although not required, organizers are suggesting those who want to attend to register. Registration will help with planning, they said.
“The world is going to be very proud of America as a nation,” Benton said. “We’ve seen the moral fiber of this incoming administration. They just go with the wind, so we’d better be the wind.”
Women’s March | St. Petersburg | Washington | Inauguration | TB Reporter
#WomensMarch #StPetersburg #Washington #Inauguration #TBReporter