York County activists who took part in the second annual Women’s March in Charlotte say they felt “empowered” by seeing thousands of people take part in what they call a movement to combat oppression and build solidarity.
The Charlotte march follows a national trend. The inaugural Women’s March gained global recognition last year following President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Last year, Charlotte joined cities across America in record-setting turnouts, with an estimated 10,000 participants. This year’s event included two hours of speakers from diverse backgrounds.
Cherie Mabrey, executive committeewoman with the York County Democratic Party, said people came out to “make a difference” on the local and national scale. She said there was plenty of support on the ground for “get-out-the-vote” causes.
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“The big takeaway is people are still upset,” she said. “I think all of these people are going to vote and encourage others to vote.”
Democrats say they sense a “blue wave” coming to Congress and statehouses across the nation since Trump was elected in 2016. They point to surprising wins in Virginia, Alabama and Oklahoma, as well as better-than-expected performances in red states like South Carolina.
Archie Parnell, the Democratic nominee in a special election for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District seat, lost the race to Republican Rep. Ralph Norman by just 3.2 percent. It was the closest Congressional race in South Carolina in more than 20 years.
Norman will be up for re-election in November 2018. Parnell has vowed to run against Norman once more.
Heather Overman, who also took part in the march Saturday morning, recently won a seat on the Tega Cay City Council as a political newcomer. She said it was important to lead “get-out-the-vote” efforts for all women to ensure no one feels underrepresented.
She has helped lead a local “Women’s Huddle” in York County that invites speakers on issues such as immigration and education and encourages community service projects. The initiative started with less than 20 people meeting at a Starbucks and has grown into nearly 300 members meeting each month, she said.
“We felt empowered,” she said. “This last year gave me a voice. It’s important to stand up for everyone who needs a voice, who can’t speak up on their own.”
Darelene Mansfield, a 65-year-old retiree, said she marched to protest what she saw as social inequality in the workplace. She said women are underpaid compared to men in similar positions.
Mansfield said she wanted to send a message to her elected officials that they should stand up to Trump and his administration or fear for their jobs come the November 2018 midterm elections.
“We’re sending a message to let them know we’re tired of it,” Mansfield said. “They’ve been sitting up there comfortable in their chairs for a lot of years. They better be shaking in their boots, because we’re not gonna have it anymore.”
Paola Navarrete of Tega Cay said she marched to bring about a better standard of living for her two daughters. She’s expecting a third child within a few months.
“I want to do more to support my community,” she said. “I want women around me to get involved in the electoral process and get women to be empowered.”