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Women’s March 2018 focuses on Trump, voting and sexual harassment

Young women and mothers at the St. Louis Women’s March for Truth want people to know they plan on leading the world into a more equal society.

Maplewood teen Anabel Parveno held a sign with words from Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech: “A new day is on the horizon.”

“It’s time for a change, you know,” Parveno said. “And if women keep coming out like this to this march and we keep speaking up against all these injustices, a new dawn is going to come, and we’re gonna rule.”

Parveno, 16, said those injustices for her include the wage gap and sexual harassment.

“Most of my friends who are 14, 15, 16 years old, they’ve all been sexually harassed in some way, so that’s a big one for me,” she said.

Parveno was one of thousands of people who participated in the march in downtown St. Louis. Similar to last year’s women’s marches nationally, people mostly expressed their resistance to the policies of President Donald Trump. But this year dozens of march speakers called for greater public awareness around sexual harassment and the rights of marginalized groups. They also encouraged attendees to influence the future by voting and running for public office.

Jackie Gold of St. Louis is also concerned about sexual harassment against women. She marched with her 4-month-old daughter strapped to her chest while pushing her 2-year-old daughter in a stroller. The sign behind the toddler said, “Raising kids to tear down walls and (glass) ceilings.”

Gold said it was important for her to bring her daughters to the event to help them become more aware of what’s going on in the world.

“It’s pretty critical for them to be able to have access and have freedom and not be afraid,” Gold said. “And I don’t want ‘Me Too’ to happen to them.”

Gold was among a number of moms who walked with their children. St. Peters mom Tasha Wilson marched with her daughter on her shoulders. Wilson carried a sign that said, “Strong women raise strong women,” and her daughter’s sign said, “I am the future.”

She said her daughter’s twin brother has special needs and added that President Donald Trump has made her concerned about both of her children’s futures.

“I want to make a difference for every mother who is worried about their children’s future,” Wilson said tearing up. “My daughter wanted to be here. She wanted to fight this.”

While the march was largely dominated by women, there were men there, too. Missouri Legislative staffer Pedro Guerrero was at the march with his mom.

“My mom, she immigrated to the United States with me when I was a little baby in search of a better life,” Guerrero said. “That same livelihood that she was pursuing in the early '90s is directly under attack today.”

His mom, Elizabeth Guerrero, is from Peru. She said she marched Saturday for her sisters in Latin America.

While the specific motives for attending the march varied from concerns about voting and immigration to sexual harassment and reproductive rights, Pedro Guerrero said he believes all those issues are connected.

“Everything is intersectional. Our liberation is intersectional. Let’s work together for it,” he said.

One of the speakers, Cori Bush, encouraged participants to work together to elect people to public office who represent their needs, including women. Bush is running to represent Missouri's first district in Congress. She ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.

“Your voice matters. It’s not about me and the other candidates. It’s about you. It’s about us, together,” She said and added later, “Our power will change something.”

St. Louis teen Deja Scott, 17, held a sign that said, “A woman’s place is in the House and in the Senate.”

She liked the phrase because of the pun, but also because it shines a light on the underrepresentation of women in politics.

One of those women who recently entered politics at the march was Christine Keller, who gained a seat on the school board in Webster Groves. She said her daughters and attending the 2017 Women’s March in D.C. inspired her to run.

“Education has meant the world to me, and I just want to be able to give back,” she said.

Ashley Lisenby is part of the public radio collaborative “Sharing America,” covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Hartford, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Portland (Oregon). Follow Ashley on Twitter @aadlisenby.

Ashley Lisenby is the news director of St. Louis Public Radio.