By Alyssa Ward | Contributor
The Waco Women’s March, an event hosted by Centex Action Network, commenced Saturday in downtown Waco. The rally marked the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, as well as the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s Marches in Washington D.C. and around the world.
Many speakers shared provoking stories and encouraged attendees to continue inspiring change among the community. They called for marchers to remain active in political and social movements and encouraged them to be registered voters.
“It’s critical for young, college-age adults to have a voice and vote. If you don’t like it, get involved. Don’t be dispirited, and don’t lose faith in our government by what is going on right now,” said Congressional candidate Rick Kennedy, a Democrat running for U.S. Representative in Texas’ 17th District.
Centex council leader Meredith Dempsey’s mantra during her address to attendees — “Put the power to the polls” — emphasized Kennedy’s remarks. Dempsey’s call to action could be heard from afar.
“We cannot wait to be saved by our elected leaders,” she shouted. “We must become the leaders and save ourselves.”
Many other speakers addressed issues pertaining to equality. Whether it was related to gender, sexuality or race, both the speakers and the attendees seemed to agree that equality was something worth fighting for.
According to Baylor alumni Dorothy Spears, Saturday’s march was the first women’s march she had attended. Spears stressed the event’s importance because she said she thinks equality is at risk.
“It’s too easy for women to be dismissed,” she said. “Women have to be the ones to take the lead in the fight for equality.”
Other speeches addressed relevant or controversial topics in the news.
Speaker Mely Gelan, Waco resident and MCC student, shared facts about immigration policy and the way it has affected her family. She urged listeners to spread awareness about the nationwide immigration crisis.
Gelan said that the Deferred for Childhood Arrivals Policy (DACA), or the Dream Act, is an immigration policy that, if ended, will displace many people who have called the United States home most of their lives, possibly separating families in the process.
Many signs peeking out of the crowd expressed support for DACA, and a roar of applause followed Gelan’s speech.
Above all, the march was an example of peaceful protest. A large portion of the speakers encouraged attendees to embrace compassion and kindness on their journeys inspiring change.
The event embraced its objectives by creating an atmosphere of open dialogue about 2017’s achievements and setting goals for 2018.
Among others, one primary goal included encouraging others to be registered voters, and to find their voice by volunteering for a movement they are passionate about.
About 350 individuals attended the march to demonstrate their support of women’s rights. Though most of the attendees were women, male voices were also heard supporting the movement.
Cody Phillips, teacher at local school Talitha Koum, said that attending the march was crucial for him because many of the important people in his life are women.
According to the Centex Action Network website, Centex’s objective is to “advance Central Texas progressive ideals by serving as a resource for legislative advocacy and political education.”
Event organizers were hopeful that marches in years to come will grow in size, and that the momentum behind the movement will not dissolve.