Under a crystal-clear West Texas sky, El Pasoans gathered to march through Downtown El Paso as part of the nation-wide Women’s March.
With scores of groups from different walks of life, the participants were entertained by dancing groups, musical performances and informed about topics, with keynote speaker Congresswoman Veronica Escobar capping the event. Her predecessor, Beto O’Rourke and wife Amy were also in attendance.
As part of our coverage, photographer Ruben R. Ramirez captured the events and we bring you his view of the march with this ‘Story in Many Pics.’
Gallery courtesy Ruben R. Ramirez – Special to the El Paso Herald Post
Women’s March El Paso will be hosting a march and gathering in the heart of Downtown El Paso, capped off by a keynote speech by newly-elected Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.
“I am a proud third generation fronteriza and represent a community that is tired of being portrayed in a way that is not factually accurate,” Escobar said. “It is an honor to serve in a way that represents all residents, regardless of race, religion or status. Women’s March El Paso has helped to amplify all voices in our community.”
Officials with Women’s March El Paso announced Congresswoman Escobar as their 2019 Keynote Speaker earlier this week. Escobar is a native El Pasoan who made history this year by becoming one of Texas’ first Latina Congresswomen.
Congresswoman Escobar was just named to the House Judiciary Committee and House Armed Services Committee and has already served as Speaker Pro-Tempore in her short tenure in the House of Representatives. Escobar previously served as a County Commissioner and County Judge of El Paso County from 2010-2017.
Escobar is known in El Paso for her lifelong commitment to service, through non-profit and government work and has been a longtime ally of Women’s March El Paso and other women’s service organizations in the Borderland.
Entertainment will begin at 9:30 am with Danza Azteca Omecoatl. Felipa Solis will serve as this year’s emcee as the program officially kicks off at 10 a.m.
This year’s speakers feature a variety of speakers and artists in our community who aim for gender, racial, economic and social justice within our communities and political system.
An approximately 1-mile march will begin at San Jacinto Plaza and make its way back to the Plaza before Congresswoman Escobar’s speech.
For the one year anniversary of the Women’s March, women and allies will come together at the Centennial Plaza at UTEP to celebrate and march down Oregon to San Jacinto Plaza.
The march and celebration, set for January 21st, 2018 at 2:00 p.m., is for participants to “share a collective agenda representing a broad and diverse group of unity interests.”
Via a news release, official said, “This year, the Women’s March is committed to turning out the vote and hopes to use the power of the upcoming march, along with the work being done by partner organizations, to bring attention to the urgency of preparing for the November midterm elections. The March will encourage participants to use their vote to help build a government that reflects their ideals, and will provide the tools to do so by having voter registration available on-site.”
Ahead of the march, organizers are hosting a Poster Making Party & Poetry Slam on Friday January 19th, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the Law Offices of Lyda Ness Garcia at 501 N. Kansas (B101.)
Officials added, “The Women’s March aims to send a message to all levels of government, including but not limited to the current Presidential administration, that we stand together in solidarity and we expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”
“Women’s Rights are not Up for Debate,” “I am free,” “This Pussy Grabs Back,” and “Can’t Touch this Pussy,” were just among hundreds colorful signs that protesters in El Paso held up, while battling the wind and the cold on Saturday.
The protest, brought together by Boundless Across Borders was just one of 673 in cities across the nation and around the world that joined in spirit with the Women’s March in Washington D.C.
An estimated 4.6 million women and their supporters marched in protest according to the womensmarch.com website. The protest was put together in response to the recent election cycle.
In El Paso about 1,000 people attended the protest at Armijo Park in El Paso.
Despite the distance, their message was one in the same as the national Women’s March on Washington – “We stand together and march for women, our daughters, our son’s and men. We stand together in unity for the rights of the LGBTQ, immigrants, Native Americans, those with disabilities, people of different religious faiths and survivors of Sexual Assault.”
At Armijo Park in El Paso, the ceremony began with a Native American danza and several women and men were offered a limpia, or a cleansing with burning sage.
Rebecca Ramirez held a sign, which depicted a skeletal Rosie the Riveter. Above the photo the words, “Respect, Value, Cherish Women; Si Se Puede!” was written.
“I’m here to fight for equal rights for women in the work place,” Ramirez said.
Another sign depicted President Trump as a toddler in a suit, sitting on the floor with a pouting face. Above the illustration the words, “There will be hell Toupee,” were written.
Artist and protestor Sarai Pagliasotti said she felt that given the bleak outlook of the election results, it was important to have a sense of humor.
“I think it was important to remain a little humorous,” Pagliasotti said. “My daughter is here with me today, I was just telling her that we are marching for her because I want people to respect her. I am marching for my aunt and my mom who came here as immigrants. We felt very disrespected by the entire Trump campaign and heart broken by the election results and what they represent. It’s just disheartening.”
While the group reminded everyone that this was not a political march – but a march for everyone’s rights and beliefs, and for the Bill of Rights – dozens of signs sprinkled throughout the crowd were not in favor of President Donald Trump.
Then, a moment of silence was given to victims and survivors of sexual assault or crimes against their faith or gender. A moment of meditation followed and then the march slowly made it’s way down toward San Jacinto Plaza.
As the crowd turned onto Stanton, nearing the Stanton Bridge; everyone chanted, “Build Bridges Not Walls!”
Further down Stanton street, nearing El Paso Street – the chanting changed to – “Que Viven las Mujeres; y que Vive la unidad!” El Paso Police assisted in leading the crowd and controlling traffic during the mile-long walk.
The march stopped at San Jacinto Plaza with the crowd surrounding the center of the Plaza.
Speakers from the Border Network of Human Rights rallied the crowd to remember that even as immigrants they had rights as well. The arena was also a topic discussed regarding the rights of the resident of the Durangito neighborhood.
The neighborhood was slated for consideration for the site of the new arena in October 2016. But residents from the neighborhood spoke to city council and in December, the city council said they would consider other sites.
That changed this month, when the council voted 4 to 3 to place Durangito back on the map of areas to consider for the construction of the arena. At the rally, the crowd cheered for the rights of the neighborhood residents.
Finally, El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar spoke and broke away from the non-political stance the protest had held.
“Yesterday, begins a new era in our country,” Escobar said referring to the inauguration of Donald Trump. “And many of us are afraid of what that era is going to usher in, because know that our environment is at stake. We know that our rights over our own bodies are at stake. We know that public education in this country is at stake. And we know the lives of the immigrants in our community are at stake.”
Escobar added, “(and) the gains that the LGBT community has made are also at stake. My friends, this is the consequence of elections. And I know you’ve said this isn’t about politics – but it is about politics. Elections matter. It is no longer enough, just for each one of us to cast our vote – those of us who are privileged enough in this country to cast a vote – that’s not enough. We have to work and rally and all of the beautiful energy we have today – all the inspiration we felt on that walk.”
“All of that cheering – being side by side with our fellow El Pasoans, with Juarenzes, with people who came in from New Mexico – we have to channel that energy and use it to change our world and take our country back,” Escobar concluded.
The march ended cheers and with a song titled, “Bread and Roses.”
As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men.
For they are women’s children and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweetened from birth until life closes.
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.
Words, Pix & Vid by Alex Hinojosa – El Paso Herald Post Contributor