At Baltimore Women’s March, Local Advocates Say “March, Vote, Dissent.” | WYPR

At Baltimore Women’s March, Local Advocates Say “March, Vote, Dissent.”

Oct 18, 2020

A sign held at City Hall on Saturday
Credit SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

More than 100 people marched from Baltimore’s federal courthouse to City Hall Saturday chanting “No inauguration until confirmation” and “Vote him out” as part of the 2020 Women’s March.

They carried signs reading Vote Pro Choice, Protect Black Women and Dump Trump. 

It was a scene that played out in D.C. and in hundreds of cities across the country.

The march was organized by local advocacy groups, including Baltimore Women United and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. 

The speeches at City Hall began with Ateira Griffin, the founder of local advocacy group Building Our Nation’s Daughters.

“March. Vote. Dissent,” she said. 

As a Black woman in America, Griffin said her own existence is an act of dissent. 

“Who believed my ancestors would fight century after century for their freedom and rights and win? Not one soul. But they dissented,” Griffin said. “And who told a group of women they could plan year after year to bring thousands of women together... to march and raise their voices? No one. But we dissent.” 

People at the march protested the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and called on Americans to vote in next month’s election.

Diana Philip from Pro-Choice Maryland urged people to vote saying Roe V. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, is on the line. 

“We have never had a nominee before who so blatantly in her career has signed off on to so many letters and so many public documents, stating that she's against really basic human rights,” Philip said. 

Karen Nelson from Planned Parenthood Advocates called the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a champion for equal rights and said the Supreme Court appointment is fundamentally about justice.

“Justice for people who need reproductive health care justice, for the more than 200,000 who have died from COVID. Justice for Breonna Taylor. Justice for the people and families who are reeling over the economic crisis. When women rise up together, we are an unstoppable force,” Nelson said. 

Brittany Oliver, the director of Not Without Black Women, warned Barrett will undo Ginsburg’s work. 

“If this administration truly cared about the American people, it would halt these hearings, wait until after the election to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice, and prioritize passing another stimulus package for struggling Americans in this country,” Oliver said. 

Protestor Mona Simmons said Republicans are hypocritical for trying to replace Ginsburg before the election and are taking away resources that would help teenage mothers. 

“Their whole attitude is we only care about the fetus. We don't care about you. We don't care about it after it's born, you know we just don't care. We just want you to have it,” Simmons said. 

Another protestor, Ellen MacKenzie attended the rally dressed as Serena Joy, a character from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In Atwood’s book Serena Joy helps create Gilead, a totalitarian society that enslaves women. 

“Barrett is very similar to that,” said MacKenzie, who had a sign around her neck reading Gilead is NOW. “It's a very frightening time to think that we could potentially be going there. Having your rights taken away is that first step. 

MacKenzie said she was marching for her mother, who she said made a tough choice before she was born. 

“She was brave enough to have an abortion when it was illegal. It was scary and my dad was terrified. But they did. They were able to finish their degrees, they got married and had three children,” she said. “And I don't think I’d be here if she didn’t make that choice.”