For the third consecutive year after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, thousands of women, men and families are expected to march in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 19, to advocate for their rights as well as those of minorities, civil liberties and social justice.
Among the marchers will be Michelle Fowle for whom the ascension of Trump to power was a watershed moment.
“It was beyond a wakeup call,” says the Northridge resident of the upcoming Los Angeles Women’s March.
Fowle admits she was not behind Hillary Clinton 100 percent in the 2016 election. But she was totally against Trump’s treatment and statements about women and minorities, and other issues he advocated for.
Trump’s surprising triumph left her “shocked,” she said.
“I was in denial. I didn’t think it was possible,” Fowle said. “My husband had never seen me like this. He knows nothing much gets me down.
“I was crying everyday. I felt fear, terror. People who are Muslims and Armenians were calling me and crying with me on the phone.”
Fowle ended up leaving her job and becoming an activist.
“I thought, ‘I can’t let people suffer and it’s going to get worse.’ I need to do everything I can as a regular citizen,” she said.
One of the first things she did was fly to Washington, D.C. to join close to a million other women and activists in the Women’s March there, a worldwide protest on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. It was the largest single-day protest in US history. Similar gatherings were held in other major cities, including Los Angeles.
“I was in tears and in awe. I felt [it was] the most empowering thing I had done in my life,” remembers Fowle. “We were all there for the same purpose, even though we’re all really different.”
Fowle admits that she had never before taken part in protests, marches or other, similar events.
“I barely knew who my senator was,” she said.
But that has changed. She formed the Resistance Northridge Indivisible, a grassroots group that meets every single month and whose sole purpose is activism.
“In order to have the world you want, we have to be active citizens,” Fowle said.
The group took part in last year’s Women’s March Los Angeles and is doing it again this year.
“This is not going away,” Fowle said.
A white female, Fowle said she believes women in general are discriminated against, but “the election of Donald Trump took it to the next level for me.”
“I thought women had come so much further than that. Then I really realized, ‘holy cow, this is what everybody who is not white has been suffering’ and I felt I had let them down. But this is not just about women. It’s a broader issue for me,” said Fowle, who now advocates “using your privilege for good.
“When immigrant families are being torn apart, we need to be there. They need opportunities and they need to know that we are equal,” she said.
For her, the Women’s March is an event that gives hope.
“The march is a great time to feel you’re not alone. It encourages you,” she says.
Fowle adds it’s also about showing that you don’t have to be angry or violent, but speak truth. That’s important, Fowle said, especially in family gatherings: most of her family voted for Trump.
“I had to really work through that,” she said. “Instead of fighting, I turn it to asking a lot of questions. We would have discussions and we ended up talking.”
It’s the same regarding the march.
“It’s really about making a statement we’re not going away, put pressure on the politicians, kick off a movement,” she said.
Emiliana Guereca, director and co-founder of Women’s March LA, says the past two years “have been devastating for so many people,” and that the 2019 women’s marches “offer us a chance to continue to turn the tide for women’s rights, human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.”
She went on to say the past November mid-term elections have shown “the power” of the ballet box. “We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines,” Guereca said. “We must be present and organized. We know what happens when we sit on the sidelines; we let other people choose their brand of democracy for us and we simply can’t afford that.”
LA marchers will gather at Pershing Square ( Fifth and Hill streets) at 8:30 a.m. and will begin marching to Los Angeles City Hall at 10 a.m. For more information, and to find your community march, visit: www.womensmarchca.com, or www.womensmarchla.com.