Gusts of wind howled through the Ithaca Commons on Wednesday, flapping banners and dragging a rattling tambourine along the ground. But Ithaca’s women were louder.
Nearly 200 women and men stomped along a one-mile loop from City Hall to the Commons in a march that served to both celebrate International Women’s Day and protest proposals from President Donald Trump and other Republicans on issues including health care and immigration.
Women around the country wore red to their jobs or stayed home from work to march or write postcards to representatives on Wednesday as part of a national strike.
Julie Kulik teaches children in a mentor program run by Earth Arts of Ithaca and said she was able to participate in the march because two stay-at-home fathers offered to teach her class for her.
Other women took extended lunches to wear pink hats and advocate for women’s rights along Ithaca’s streets.
“I am working today but I’m taking several hours off so that they’ll feel my absence,” said Maggie Walsh, who works as a consultant for a contact lens manufacturer. Walsh said her co-workers “all know I’m here and are all supportive of it.”
“They’ll get by without me for a little while,” she added, laughing.
A plethora of signs included etchings such as, “I am a woman, what’s your superpower?” and “Females are strong as hell.”
Kristi Taylor, education director for the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, said an event at Autumn Leaves bookstore later in the day would encourage Ithacans to write letters to Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), whose district includes Ithaca, to support the Violence Against Women Act.
The march and strike, which some commentators have said is a protest largely for privileged women, was encouraged with honks of approval from cars and trucks on Green Street and by employees of shops on The Commons.
“It’s beautiful — it’s wonderful,” Abby Schnellinger of My American Crafts said as marchers passed by near the Bernie Milton Pavilion. “I wish I could be more a part of it, but I get to at least show my support from this far.”
Chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter,” rang out from women and men of all ages as they carried banners around downtown Ithaca.
Walsh, who said she also attended the Women’s March on Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., said she wanted to continue “the resistance” and show solidarity with refugees and other groups in addition to women. Her dog, Nell, was one of several canines who trotted along with the marchers on Wednesday.
Another woman, Fullis Conroy, said she wanted to stop what she sees as regressive policies and rhetoric from the Trump administration on women’s issues.
“We don’t want to go back to the ’50s,” she said of the marchers. “We want to make sure that women’s rights as well as human rights are covered, and that means reproductive rights, that means LGBTQ rights and that means women’s pay should be equal to men’s.”
“With this administration, we’re going backwards,” she said.