Women and supporters gather at the Texas Capitol for the Women’s March on Austin on Jan. 21, 2017. Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune
The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, thousands of Texans gathered in cities across the state Saturday during Texas’ multiple iterations of the Women’s March on Washington.
The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, thousands of Texans gathered in cities across the state for women’s marches, flooding the streets around the state Capitol in Austin, striding through downtown Dallas and congregating at Houston City Hall. They carried signs that said things like “Viva la Vulva,” “No utuerus, no opinion” and “Love trumps hate.”
Texans also flocked to the flagship Women’s March on Washington —which seeks to “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.” Sixteen Texas cities hosted “sister marches.” Across the state, the marches were sponsored by civil rights and political organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network.
People marched “to be able to fight for equal rights in general, being able to show that everybody is equal, everybody has a voice,” said Beftu Teklu, a 25-year-old from Dallas who participated in the Austin demonstration, which she said was her first march.
Saturday’s marches followed a day of protests and counter-protests that erupted around Texas Friday as the inauguration took place in Washington, D.C. More than 500 University of Texas students protested Trump’s inauguration at the UT Tower; later in the day, more than 1,000 people gathered for the One Resistance march to the state Capitol.
Organizers expected Saturday’s March on Austin to be the largest demonstration in Texas and one of the largest worldwide. More than 600 “sister marches” were recognized by the flagship march website, which estimated that more than 2 million people would participate in these demonstrations across the globe.
Melissa Fiero, head organizer of the March on Austin, said she hopes the event sends a message to the incoming Trump Administration as well as Texas lawmakers.
“The march is not specifically targeting or focusing on any particular political issue,” she said. “We’re not a protest, we’re a message of pro-human rights and social justice issues.”
Many children joined their parents at the Austin demonstration, including Pax Ilai, 9, who held an “Annoying Orange” sign with Trump’s face on it. She said she was at the march because “women should have their rights and no one should mess with them.”
In Dallas, thousands of North Texans gathered at City Hall and marched through downtown, Deep Ellum and East Dallas. Many took aim at the new president, his election rhetoric and his cabinet picks.
But Cheryl Muck of Dallas doesn’t wish Trump to fail. She hopes he succeeds as president because she thinks that means the country will, too. And as much as she disagrees with Trump’s comments about women, Muslims and Mexicans, she supports his right to voice his opinions.
“It’s just I’m shocked that point of view could win,” Muck said as she marched with scores of others through Dallas Saturday morning.
Noor Saadeh said it’s important for women to form a united front under a president who talked about using his fame to grab their genitalia without consent. She also said that as a Muslim, she’s beginning to have anxiety about being forced to register her identity and religious faith with the government.
“I feel like if you want to make America great again, we’re taking a step back rather than forward,” Saadeh said.
Sadeeh said one of her biggest concerns about Trump is his skepticism of climate change.
“Look, Dallas doesn’t have winter anymore,” she said. “We used to have winter. Something’s changing.”
Pierrot Awadalla panned Trump’s cabinet picks.
“Yes, Rick Perry was our governor, but he’s not a scientist and he’s supposed to be in charge of the Department of Energy?” Awadalla said. “He wanted to abolish it.”
In Washington, where thousands of protesters gathered near the U.S. Capitol, the scene was far more electric than the inauguration just 24 hours earlier.
“If anything, this election has only further inspired people to be more proactive as they see that there may have been a sense of complacency,” said Kenduyl Dunn, a native Austinite who now lives in Brooklyn. “People live in a filtered bubble and a lot of people just expected Hillary to win.”
“I still think that while Hillary Clinton did not win, we still have a lot of hope,” said Laney Goodrum, a seventh-grader from Austin.
Many protesters wore pink knitted hats, often with kitten ears, a response to the lewd term Trump used in a 2005 Access Hollywood video.
“My mother, who’s 85, made us pussy hats — I’m just saying,” said Barbara Kennedy of Austin, who marched in Washington. “85-year-old mom made pussy hats for me and my six brothers and sisters to wear all over the country at different rallies.”
“If Trump’s going to say it,” said a woman listening nearby, “we might as well.”
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood and the University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.