Power to the Polls: women unite to foster political participation and empowerment
All photos courtesy of Emily Bowers/Connect.
On the anniversary of the historic Women’s March on Washington, people once again gathered all across the country to make their voices heard. However, this year’s demonstrations had a more specific goal than the previous years. Aptly called Power to the Polls, the main purpose of this year’s march was to “launch a national voter registration tour… [and] channel the energy and activism of the Women’s March into tangible strategies and concrete wins in 2018.” With the congressional elections coming up in November of this year, it is more important than ever to get people registered and inspired to vote.
St. Petersburg was one of the many places that participated in Power to the Polls. The event, held at William’s Park, was packed full with protesters who had signs and an energy level that could be felt throughout the city. Speakers from different organizations and backgrounds came out and united the crowd with inspiring words, stories and hopes for the future. A common theme of the speeches was power and inclusion; the idea that feminism has to include all women, even those who can’t stand up and speak for themselves. Speakers like Tendani Musengwa emphasized that individual people need to take responsibility for bringing forth the change they want to see.
Early on in the event, Mayor Philip Levine got up and gave a passionate speech about the women who got him to where he is today, and what this event meant to him.
“Today you have a different type of march,” Levine said. “A march of hope, a march of moving forward, a march of doing the right thing. That’s what this is about today. That’s why all of you are here.”
Groups and organizations that did not speak had booths spread out over the park with information about their causes and products to sell. The Stonewall Democrats, who support, endorse and fundraise for leaders who support the LGBTQ community, came to educate the public about their causes. “We’re hoping it energizes people to go out and vote,” said Jane Morris, leader of the organization. As a whole, the Stonewall Democrats have more hope for the 2018 elections than they did a year ago, Morris said.
In November, 33 seats in the Senate and all 435 seats in the House are up for reelection. Regardless of position or political ties, the purpose of this year’s Women’s March was to encourage voter participation, and ultimately, the empowerment of all groups.
Information for this article gathered from http://www.powertothepolls.com/ and https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Congress_elections,_2018