HANA, Maui —The night Donald J. Trump was elected president a distraught grandmother took to Facebook for consolation, repeatedly typing “I think we should march, I think we should march …”
“I kept getting push back – it’s too cold, it’s too soon, it’s not the right time,” Teresa Shook of Hana remembers. “Finally a woman typed ‘I’m in’ so I created an events page for a march on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration.”
The world will never be the same.
On Saturday, women throughout the world celebrated the first anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington that brought half a million people — most of them placard-carrying women, many wearing pink pussy hats – to the National Mall.
A young marcher joined hundreds of women on Saturday at the Women’s March in Honolulu.
Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat
Last year 3.3 million to 4.6 million Americans in 408 communities marched in solidarity on Jan. 21, and another million people in 81 countries poured into their streets in 168 companion protests.
This year’s turnout won’t have the inaugural protests’ record-breaking numbers but marches are planned throughout America, in cities and small towns on the mainland, in Alaska and in Honolulu, Kona, Hilo, Hana and perhaps elsewhere throughout the islands.
This year’s protestors know last year’s outpouring of passion for recognition and determination to be heard has been a sea change carrying millions of women from a moment to a movement.
“It is women who are holding our democracy together in these dangerous times,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York and a women being touted as a 2020 candidate for president, in an anniversary speech to marchers Saturday in New York City, just hours after a government shutdown in Washington, D.C.
March On is a rapidly growing political action group created by women who pulled together the 50 state marches last year. An offshoot of the Women’s March, it has embraced “moment to movement” and is attracting thousands of followers nationally to help it “crowdsource our agenda, expand the vote, win elections.”
Dozens of grass-roots spinoffs, such as Run for Something, Flippable, Our Revolution and Ground Game, have moved beyond shoe leather onto tech platforms and digital networks to boost voter registration, encourage and track a deep-pockets female donor base, and train (mostly Democrat) women candidates to beat (mostly Republican) incumbents.
Teresa Shook has settled into her Hana home again in the year since she started the Women’s March on Washington.
“I look at this as a healthy tree with many branches. I support them all,” said Shook, whose Women’s March idea spawned all that’s followed.
“If we are working for a fair, just and inclusive America then we are working together. Because women stood up and bonded through this experience, however painful it has been, we have turned the tide and women led the way,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, people are activated, men are standing with us.
“But the future is female. I think 2018 is the ‘Year of the Woman.’”
Shook is a self-effacing woman who lives with eyesight challenges, frets about her curly hair in a humid climate, and is remodeling her house pretty much single-handedly. She was chagrined at needing help from friends when she fell out of a tree while trimming it, breaking her pelvis in six places.
The woman who doesn’t like causing a fuss experienced “shock, awe and panic” when she woke up Nov. 9, 2016, to find that 70 “likes” from her midnight post had ballooned past 20,000 and crashed her site, prompting Facebook to temporarily shut it down.
“When I saw the response I had a millisecond thought that I should turn off my computer and walk away.”
But with coffee and courage in hand, she started replying.
“I asked ‘are you a woman and can you help?’ I just reacted, telling myself ‘you started it, get busy. I became the firewoman whose mantra was ‘don’t say you can’t do this … don’t give up, buy your ticket and come!’”
State Sen. Laura Thielen joined the marchers in Honolulu on Saturday.
Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat
On the Washington podium at the march, Shook felt overwhelmed by the love.
“It wasn’t for me; it was because I had become a symbol. I was one woman who helped millions wake up, gave them hope, proved that each of us can make a difference. Like most people, if you give me a job I quit thinking about negatives. I am no longer depressed about Trump’s election, I have a job to do. That gives me hope. It gives others hope.”
In the year since Trump’s inauguration there has been a surge of Democrat female candidates, most of them rookies, running in 2018 for everything from U.S. Senate to county council and school board.
The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University says there are 390 potential new female U.S. House candidates, 49 women likely running for the U.S. Senate and 79 females likely aiming for a governorship. Most of them are Democrats.
In the past year, more than 26,000 women have contacted Emily’s List, which recruits and trains pro-choice Democratic women about running for public office. From 2015 to 2016 there were about 900 queries. Funds from female donors to female Democratic candidates also have surged in the past 12 months.
Shook sees a straight line from the Women’s March to #MeToo heroines and powerful #TimesUp female celebrities and media and arts executives speaking up and publicly calling out (mostly) male abusers and harassers.
“#MeToo is part of the awakening, of standing up and standing together, of owning our power and backing each other up,” Shook said. “It took me a little while to do that, to acknowledge and come to terms with the fact that I am a strong woman, a powerful woman, to own my strength.”
The Women’s March on Washington has spawned other movements, including #MeToo and #TimesUp. And more women are running for elected office.
Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat
Shook continues to support women organizers in Hawaii and elsewhere, but is focused on a memoir “to reassure women that no matter their circumstances they can make the impossible possible.”
“I am living proof that this is true,” she said. “Except for the births of my children, becoming a part of history has made this the most momentous year of my life and I want to share it, and my personal story that led me to be the strong woman I am.”
She prominently displays in her writing nook a photo of a sign carried by a marcher which reads, “You’ll Never Have the Comfort of Our Silence Again.”
“The heart of the Women’s March was ‘Silent No More.’ It still is. If elected representatives are not emulating our country’s deeply held values of fairness, justice, inclusion and basic human decency then we need to work against them and vote them out.
“We must stand up for our values. On which side of justice will you stand? On which side of history will you stand?
“That is our end game.”
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