In the midst of a presidential impeachment, and with voters across the country listening to debates and preparing to participate soon in caucuses and primaries leading up to the November national elections, women are getting ready to make their feelings and voices heard in the fourth annual Women’s March.
Los Angeles is no different. More than 750,000 people crowded downtown in 2017 in solidarity with millions of others marching in Washington, DC, and major cities across the US and the world. On Saturday, Jan. 18, women, men and entire families will once again take to the downtown Los Angeles streets.
In 2017, the crowds then were prompted by the surprising win of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Sophia De Loretto-Chudy was a junior at the University of Oregon in 2017, and remembers the feeling of disappointment and disbelief following that election.
“I remembered working so hard as a junior in college to elect a Democrat,” says the 23-year-old. “We poured our heart and soul.”
But with Trump’s victory, all that excitement transformed into shock. Along with thousands of others, De Loretto-Chudy remembers “just feeling so hopeless and that my voice was going to be diminished.”
So when she heard women were organizing to march, De Loretto-Chudy first tried to raise funds to travel to Washington, DC, but realized it would not be possible. More marches had started popping up in other places, however — including Eugene, Oregon, where she was living at the time — and her optimism grew.
After participating in a 5K fundraising event she helped organize on the same day, De Loretto-Chudy and her friends rushed to the first Women’s March. For the past two years she’s lived in North Hollywood, and continues to attend the event. This coming Saturday will be no different.
Los Angeles March
De Loretto-Chudy, who works in politics, remembered the 2017 march for being “excited about seeing the community come together” for people who felt like they had lost their voices.
“Just seeing the sort of feminist revolution come about after such a dark time, it was so empowering,” she said. “I, myself, got my voice back and found hope again. We remembered that this is a fight.”
The organizing and motivation ignited by the marches is credited for the large number of women elected to office in the 2018 November election, and De Loretto-Chudy expects similar results this year.
“Specifically in Los Angeles, they have done such an incredible job of focusing on voting and not just yelling,” she said. “It’s not just reproductive rights, equal pay, immigration; it’s police silence, paid family leave, uplifting women’s voices, carrying on the fight for everyone for those who don’t have a voice.”
De Loretto-Chudy says the marches, where so many different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and interests were represented, brought together a “community of people” who felt the need to stand up.
“It created a sense of security, safety we felt we had lost. It was an emotional response and motivation to get back into the weeds,” she says, adding that she believes this year the focus will be on the upcoming election.
“2020 is one of the most important times to network, to come out again and put the work in on the ground and it starts with this momentum of having a march,” she adds. “A lot of signs will be regarding voting.”
Emiliana Guereca, President of Women’s March Foundation, agrees.
“In 2020 women will rise to power and demand justice for people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations, disabilities and backgrounds,” she said. “Following the 2016 election, women took to the streets in historic numbers to make their voices heard.
“Now, this election year, we will once again raise our voices at the 4th Annual Women’s March LA: Women Rising to demand that the United States’ next president must have a clear agenda to advance women’s rights.”
In the 2018 midterm election, a record-breaking 103 women were elected to Congress, and some have risen to powerful leadership roles in every area from the economy to foreign policy to government accountability.
The organizers say the 4th Annual Women’s March LA will celebrate these accomplishments, raise awareness of the important work being done by community organizations throughout the year registering and educating voters, mobilizing communities, equipping youth for civic engagement and empowering women to run for office.