Three years after its inception, the Women’s March is still going strong in Cortez, and Saturday morning saw a colorful array of locals turn out to circle what is now called Veterans Park – with chants and signs galore.
At least 250 showed up for the fourth annual march, which this time was themed “Together We Rise in 2020.” The Cortez event happens in solidarity with hundreds of other similar marches that have taken place around the world every year following the 2016 U.S. election.
This year, the event’s speaker and emcee, Rebecca Busic, focused on taking political action and sending people to the ballot box in upcoming elections.
“Marching is great, resisting is great, those things change culture,” Busic said. “But culture cannot change the law for a more equal and just future for women and children and immigrants and minorities and LGBTQ people and the planet, if we don’t vote.”
The first Women’s March events took place in January 2017, in protest of the presidential election of Donald Trump.
While the movement is called the “Women’s March,” it also aims to support civil and reproductive rights and environmental justice while seeking to end violence against women and communities of color, according to the Women’s March website.
The first Cortez event back in 2017 was a snowy affair but still highly attended, with around 500 people turning out to march through blizzard conditions.
This year saw no blizzard, but it was still chilly at 10 a.m., when attendees gathered at the center of Veterans Park (formerly City Park). The table of hot drinks was a popular attraction, and marchers were bundled up in coats and hats – some of them pink “pussy hats” popularized a few years ago.
Slogans on handmade signs ran the gamut of themes, with some advocating for the rights of women and immigrants, others promoting environmental protection, and many opposing the current presidential administration.
Sylvia Clahchischilli and Donna Dorsett from Cortez joined forces on a “Diversity Matters” sign.
Dorsett said she came because she feels it’s important to gather together as a group “and use our voice if we’re unhappy with the situation.”
Clahchischilli, who is also from Teec Nos Pas, Arizona, she said, pointed to the Earth image they had doodled into one corner of their sign.
“To give voice to how we live,” she said of her reason for taking part in the march. “Every day, everybody, with our neighbors, and I think with the environment as well. That’s part of our humanity. All of creation reflects our maker. I think it’s a denial of our creator to deny any parts of creation.”
Busic spoke prior to the march. Along with urging attendees to vote, register others to vote, and “by goddess” run for political office, she read aloud from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” – which aligned with the theme for this year’s Women’s March, she said.
“You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise,” Busic quoted.
After Busic spoke, the procession began, led by organizers Mary Dodd and Tulli Kerstetter. They wound their way around the park, pausing at the corner by the Colorado Welcome Center to allow cars passing by on Main Street to honk their support.
Patty Coen led the chants, and as they processed, marchers shouted phrases like, “The people need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” and “My body, my choice! Her body, her choice!”
The event was sponsored by the Blue Jennies, Cortez Chapter of Drinking Liberally, Montezuma Alliance for Unity, Montezuma County Democrats, Montezuma Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, Montezuma Youth Pride, and Rosa Belongs Here.