Wichita Women's March One Year Later: Once Anger, Now Action

Jan 20, 2018

The pink hats were the same. Many of the signs, too: "I resist." "I'm with her." "Girls just want to have fun(damental) rights."

But Saturday's 500-person rally in front of City Hall in downtown Wichita had a decidedly different feel than last year's Women's March.

The event in Wichita was one of hundreds across the U.S. and around the world, planned around the one-year anniversary of the original Women's March and President Donald Trump's inauguration. Though last year's marches were largely born out of anger at Trump's election, the 2018 Women's March on Air Capital had a different focus.

"I do think that there’s going to be action that comes from this," said Jessica Smith, who also attended the 2017 march. "I mean, this is action in itself, everybody coming together to say we support this cause, but nothing’s going to happen until we take the action and turn it into votes, and turn it into electing women and people who support women into office.”

The focus of this year's event--like those scheduled to take place in cities like Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Seattle--was on getting people registered and ready to vote in November's midterm elections. All of the seats in the Kansas Legislature will be up for election, and voters will select both a new governor and secretary of state.

Former City Council member Lavonta Williams, center, speaks to the crowd at the Women's March on Air Capital on Saturday. With her were Kansas state Rep. Gail Finney, left, and Rep. Ponka-We Victors, both of Wichita.
Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Speakers at this weekend's rally emphasized the need to elect officials who support women's rights, and the need to get more women elected.

"As we go forward, if we are 51 percent of the state representation as women, then we need 50 percent of our names on the ballots," said former City Council member Lavonta Williams.

Community advocate Mary Dean, president of Black Women Empowered in Wichita, echoed that message.

"Ladies, black, white, red, yellow, it's time," she said. "This is the year for women."

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