DOWNTOWN — Chicago women are helping organize a national march that's expected to bring thousands of people to Washington, D.C., the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated.
More than 2,300 people just in Illinois have said they are going to the Women's March on Washington, while more than 4,000 are interested on the event's Facebook page.
Mrinalini Chakraborty, the state representative for Illinois and a Gold Coast resident, said there was a "sense of despair" after Trump was elected Nov. 8. Wanting to do something, Chakraborty volunteered to help with the march and, with a group of women, is now helping thousands of women from throughout the state meet, talk and get to the march.
Amanda Jane Long, the march's communications coordinator for Illinois and an Edgewater resident, said she wants people to feel empowered to take action because of the march. People have been stunned by the size of the march, she said, noting that more than 1,200 marchers just in Illinois have booked tickets to take a bus to D.C.
"Especially in Chicago, most people are saying, 'You go, girl,'" Long said.
She hopes the march can inspire even those who aren't able to participate.
"I hope it sparks in them that question or that piece of empowerment that says, 'I can join this, too.'"
Chakraborty, who said she is passionate about grassroots activism, said she hopes to see more work done even after the march is over.
"I envision coming back from the march, energized and sort of emboldened if it goes the way that we are planning, and engaging in local, grassroots activism efforts," Chakraborty said.
What is the Women's March?
The Women's March — which is open to anyone who wants to participate — is meant to show "solidarity," Long said.
You can learn more about the organizers, other participants and what the march is for during a meeting on Thursday night. The meeting is full, but video of it will be streamed on Facebook.
Marchers will travel from throughout the country to Washington, D.C., and converge at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 21, the day after Trump is inaugurated.
"The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized and threatened many of us ... ," according to a statement from the national organizers. "In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.
"... We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us."
How can I go?
Some participants are flying or driving to D.C., while others have joined together to take buses to the capital.
In and around Chicago, there are rally buses set up that can take attendees to and from D.C. You can sign up for those buses online, and there are some private buses available in Rogers Park and Beverly.
You can also reserve a bus with Shofur, which is donating $1 million to the organization because more than 4,500 buses were reserved for the march.
If you can't get to D.C. for the national march, there will be a "sister march" in Chicago on Jan. 21.
I can't go to D.C. How can I contribute?
You can fill out a form online to learn about volunteer opportunities. The organizers are also looking for people and organizations to host events where the organizers and others involved in the march can talk about the event and their work, Long said. Those events will be part of an "empowerment tour."
There are also several fundraisers to help participants pay for a trip to the D.C. march.
The organizers have also created English and Spanish fliers and handouts that people can print and share (and they'd be interested in more translations if people are available to help, Long said).
"If you do nothing else, just tell your friends, tell your family that this is happening," Chakraborty said.
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