Quad Cities Women's March 2018

On Saturday, January 20th, over 300 people from the Quad Cities area gathered in Schwiebert Park for the Quad Cities Women’s March. The park, which overlooks the Mississippi River, was filled with women, men, and children, adorned in pink hats and carrying handmade signs. Starting with a rally, the aim of this event was to register voters and to encourage political action.

A number of local figures spoke at the rally, and a table was set up in the park where attendees could register to vote. LGBT+ activist Brandy Donaldson inspired the crowd with a quote from her personal hero, Maya Angelou. “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight,” she read, and told the crowd that she had this quote tattooed on her arm to remind her of how important each and every person is.

The Rocky Riveters, a club from Rock Island High School, took the stage to read a poem that highlighted important feminist achievements in the last few decades. They concluded with a quote from Oprah Winfrey’s recent speech at the Golden Globe Awards show.

Proud trans woman, Michelle Royal, who serves on the board of Quad Cities Pride, spoke of her experience transitioning, and how it has made her a stronger activist. She told the crowd how Trump’s presidency has already affected her life, and urged them to vote.

The youngest daughter of Ethel and Robert Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, encouraged the crowd to always fight against injustices, and to “get arrested.” She told a story of her mother taking her and her brother to protest the segregation in South Africa. She was only a young teenager, and she was arrested during the protest. She said that she had never seen her mother more proud.

After the rally portion of the event, the crowd did a brief march from Schwiebert Park to the County Clerk’s office a few blocks away. There, the voter registration forms that had been completed during the event were delivered to officially register these new voters. Protesters gathered outside the building, holding their signs for drivers passing by to see.

I had the pleasure of attending this event with my friend, Robert Burke, and got to listen to the inspiring activists who spoke at the rally. It seemed extremely fitting to me that while prominent female figures were speaking to the crowd about democracy and the power of the voters, bald eagles swooped over the Mississippi River. That image alone is enough to fuel my political fire as we enter a critical election year. So readers, I encourage you to follow the advice of the organizers of this event—do not be silenced. Vote, and let your voice be heard!