By Melody Vallieu
TROY — On a smaller scale — but with no less desire to be heard — local residents rallied in support of the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday afternoon on the Miami County Courthouse Plaza.
The Washington, D.C. march on Saturday was expected to attract 200,000 people. Across the country, more than 600 communities also hosted marches — including Troy, Dayton and Cincinnati — with a total estimated attendance of more than a million participants.
Deb Hogshead and Niki Woodruff, both of Troy, organized the march in Troy. The purpose of the rally, considered a “sister march” to the Washington, D.C. event, was to promote the principles of unity and let elected officials know that citizens will stand together to defend the human rights of all people.
The peaceful, non-partisan event — attended by an estimated 150 people — was open to women, men and children, some who could elected to bring signs that promote love, acceptance, and tolerance, Hogshead said.
“I had planned to go to the Dayton event, but posts on our neighborhood Facebook page made me think folks might like to be a part of the Women’s March on Washington without leaving Troy,” Hogshead said.
“We thought, rather than attend the march already scheduled in Dayton, it would be impactful to host a sister march here in Troy that would allow us to contribute to the growing number of smaller marches,” Woodruff said. “Also, with larger marches comes varying agendas. I think we both felt that by having a local march, we could keep the message simple and make the experience more intimate.”
Both organizers have their own individual concerns about today’s society, they said.
“I’m particularly concerned about racial injustice, the disparity between the very rich and the rest of us, and the role big money plays in elections, public policy, and legislation,” Hogshead said. “These have been long-standing problems, and I given a lot of my time and attention to these three issues.”
Woodruff, as a mother, said she is concerned with the lack of empathy in this country.
“I am trying to teach my daughter to be selfless and inclusive, but the messages we are hearing out of Washington, D.C. are very divisive and repressive. I think through social media we have become so comfortable in our little like-minded online groups that it has become the norm to place people in these categories with varying labels, and we have essentially forgotten how to be kind and decent human beings towards those who are different than us,” said Woodruff, a Pleasant Hill native. “I’ve talked to other mothers who are really just fed up with the lack of tolerance and the blatant indifference in our society and they are ready to take action.
“Our goals are just to cultivate a culture of caring in our local communities where we are raising our children and hopefully that culture will trickle out to our representatives in Congress,” Woodruff said.
As a result of the Saturday march, both organizers say they hope people were able to voice their concerns openly — and are heard — to bring about change.
“I hope people see that others share their concerns,” Hogshead said. “And I hope people will reach out, connect with each other, and stand together to promote the human rights of all people.”
Woodruff said she hopes that, regardless of political or religious beliefs, that people can bridge some of these great divides by getting back to the basics of human decency.
“We want to remind our community that the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ promises liberty and justice for all — not just the few,” she said. “Importantly, we want the disenfranchised and underprivileged people of this county to know that, regardless of the rhetoric you hear out of Washington, D.C., you are loved and valued members of this community and you have some really strong women fighting for you.”
Hogshead said those in attendance also signed letters to be sent to President Donald Trump, Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and Ohio’s 8th District Representative Warren Davidson.
“We are amazed and inspired by the turnout and the passion of those who came, ” Hogshead said following the event.
Reach Melody Vallieu at [email protected] or call (937) 552-2131