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Tens of thousands participate in Texas women's marches

By Mariana Alfaro, Brandon  Formby, Abby Livingston and Cassandra Pollock

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, tens of thousands of Texans took part in women's marches across the state on Saturday, 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 uterus, no opinion" and "Love trumps hate."

Texans also flocked to the flagship Women's March on Washington, which sought 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.

"I think we need each other right now; we give each other a sense of safety in numbers," said Laurie McSpadden, who marched in Amarillo at an event that organizers said drew more than 600 people. "That was the whole feeling during the march today. This feels good, and we're going to be OK."

Linda Roland, 56, holds a sign in protest of President Donald Trump during the Women's March in Brownsville on Jan. 21, 2017. “I cannot support a sexual predator and misogynist,” Roland said.Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune
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.

Hundreds of “sister marches” around the world on Saturday were recognized by the flagship march website.

Organizers estimated that 50,000 people attended the march in Austin, which kicked off with drums and culminated in a rally featuring former state Sen. Wendy Davis, motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez and live music by Austin singer-songwriters Wendy Colonna and Gina Chavez. Mayor Steve Adler sat in the front row.

Davis, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor against now-Gov. Greg Abbott in 2014, said she was asked by reporters if she received different treatment as a female candidate. She told the crowd she regretted saying “no.”

Former state senator and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis speaks at the women's march at the state Capitol on Jan. 21, 2017.Marjorie Kamys Cotera
"Just like so many of us women, I was raised to put my head down and forge ahead no matter how hard things were,” she said. “Make no mistake about it: When we remain silent, we participate in our own marginalization.”

Joann Dickenson, an Austin mother of two girls, made it to the march — but only after two buses arrived already full at the East Austin bus stop where she was waiting.

"That tells you that a lot of women are pissed off," she said.  

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 and said that "women should have their rights and no one should mess with them."

After the rally, attendees hugged and picked up their posters as they made their way out of the Capitol grounds. As she left, Sue Preston of Houston, wearing a suffragette dress, said she marched to honor the women who worked to gain the right to vote.

“A lot of women really, really suffered and worked hard and resisted to get to where we are and to let that slide backwards would be a travesty to everything they did,” she said.

Crowds gather for the Women's March in Austin on Jan. 21, 2017.Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

In Dallas, thousands of North Texans (3,000 according to Dallas police, and more than 7,000 according to organizers) 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."

One North Texan who took issue with the Women's March on Washington was state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, who posted on Facebook about a group that calls itself "pro-life" and was removed as a listed partner of the march. The post included a photo of demonstrators holding signs that said "Planned Parenthood saves lives" and "Stop the war on women."

"There's so much hypocrisy written here, I can't even," Burton wrote.

Thousands of North Texans gathered at Dallas City Hall on Saturday morning and began marching through downtown carrying signs and shouting a number of chants, the most common being, "Women united can never be divided." Jan. 21, 2017.Brandon Formby / The Texas Tribune
Houston's march drew some 22,000 participants, the Houston Chronicle reported. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed the crowd. "In this city ... We are going to love one another," he said, adding, "We are not going back!"

Angie Truitt, who marched in Houston, said the demonstration "was not negative at all."

 "It was about hope and standing up for what we believe in," Truitt told The Texas Tribune.


In Washington, where hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered near the U.S. Capitol for a march to the new home of Trump, the White House, the scene was far more electric than the inauguration just 24 hours earlier. Speakers included Madonna, who said she has thought about blowing up the White House, and comedian Amy Schumer.


Women and supporters gather at the U.S. Capitol for the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.Caleb Bryant Miller for The Texas Tribune
"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."

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune. 

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