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Virginians Join Women’s March in D.C.

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<Women's March on Washington

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

WASHINGTON – People from across Virginia rallied in Washington on Saturday morning before joining women from around country in sending a message to President Donald Trump.

“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” the march’s mission stated.

Protesters from Virginia started gathering at the Carousel in the National Mall around 7 a.m. Many donned purple #Virginia4ALL hats and carried protest signs. Stair Calhoun, the Northern Virginia coordinator for the march, said nearly 1,500 hats and 5,000 campaign buttons were distributed before the rally.

“Yesterday we had a little party here in D.C.,” U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told the gathering.

Then he and the crowd booed.

“Today, we have a bigger party,” he said as the crowd whistled and cheered with approval.

Connolly said that while Trump may be president, he doesn’t speak for everyone. The day of the rally marked the beginning of what he called a “four-year fight.” Connolly said that he would do his part in Congress but that he expected members of the audience to do their part beyond marching.

“This is our America, too, and we’re going to stick up for it,” Connolly said.

State Del. Mark Levine, a Democrat from Alexandria, said that on Inauguration Day, he savored the last remaining hours of Barack Obama’s presidency. Levine said that when he stepped outside the Virginia General Assembly at noon, he heard the church bells ringing and noticed it was raining.

“My first thought was God is crying,” Levine said. “But I thought about it some more and realized the rain was a wake-up call.”

He said he had never imagined Trump would be president. He knew Hillary Clinton and had eagerly awaited her presidency.

“I said, ‘America is never going to elect this joker,’” Levine said. “And in a way, I was right because 3 million more Americans chose Hillary Clinton.”

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. was greeted with loud cheers and calls of support from members of the audience when he addressed the crowd.

He quoted St. Augustine – that Hope has two daughters, and they are Anger and Courage.

“Today we are angry,” Beyer said. “We’ve just inaugurated a man who shows profound disrespect for women.”

Beyer said that while the crowd was angry, they also had courage because of their decision to join the march. He said they would continue to fight and never surrender.

“How do we show courage? By doing all the little things well,” Beyer said. “We take care of our families. We do our jobs well. We build our communities. We take care of the sick, the poor and those in trouble.”

He then told the crowd they should maintain their courage by getting involved with their local government and staying electorally engaged until they can vote Trump out of office in 2020.

Virginia rally organizers were expecting over 120 buses and over 7,500 people from Virginia, Calhoun said. She had three private buses of her own coming from Annandale, including a bus from her yoga studio.

Calhoun said she had 20 people staying at her home for the march and knew of another woman from Virginia who had 25 people from Vermont staying in her basement.

Eileen Denne of Alexandria attended the Virginia rally and Women’s March on Washington with two friends from Cleveland who were staying with her.

“We are all mothers of daughters,” Sheila Lodwick said of the trio. “It’s important for us to march for them and their futures.”

Emily Patton, Virginia’s outreach chair for the Women’s March, echoed that message in addressing the crowd: “Today is your day – one of activism. We will prevail.”

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