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National politics takes center stage at Raleigh Women's March

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemmminger stands to be recognized at the Raleigh Women's March at Halifax Mall on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

Calls to defeat President Donald Trump and ensure representation for minority groups took center stage at the Raleigh Women’s March Sunday.

The marchers began at the North Carolina State Legislative Building and walked through downtown Raleigh before finishing at Halifax Mall. The group alternated between chants calling for the defeat of Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., during the march.

Democratic presidential candidates Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were all represented by their supporters throughout the event. These groups were speaking with march attendees and advocating for their candidates. Although there were supporters for a number of different Democratic primary candidates, most people attending the event identified defeating Donald Trump as their number one priority.

Michelle and Charles Putterman, residents of Raleigh, attended the march together and held a sign supporting Elizabeth Warren. 

“I just think it’s long overdue to have a woman be our president,” Michelle Putterman said.

Charles Putterman said North Carolina and the United States are moving backwards and women’s rights are part of that regressive movement.

“We just need to support all forward-thinking policies and that includes, among the big ones, women’s rights and we need to — especially men need to — stand up and make it very clear that women’s rights are a primary issue here that we need to focus our attention to,” he said.

Cary resident Judith Bullock — who was holding a sign that read “Women are the wall, and Trump will pay” — said she had been attending marches since 1970. She said patriotism was why she attended the marches because people should speak out when things are not right.

“I don’t think the current administration understands that women really know how to fight and we know how to stand up for what’s right,” Bullock said. “The biggest issue is just to remove Trump because everything flows — what they say — ‘a fish rots from the head,’ and that’s really what’s happened here.”

A grassroots volunteer group led by Cecile Crawford, a resident of Greensboro, was canvassing for Sanders throughout the day. Crawford said Sanders' platform was something that resonated with her as a Black woman. 

Crawford said one of the issues she was most concerned about was how Black women in general carry the most debt, despite the group being one of the most educated demographics in the United States. She also was concerned about the maternal death rates of Black women and discrimination Black women face from medical professionals.

“Bernie’s Medicare for All and women’s rights, both of them address those issues,” Crawford said. “We have to make sure that people who are the leaders of different movements for each of these different issues, that we stand behind them as a grassroots movement, which is what Bernie is training us to do, is to be a grassroots movement.”

Crystal Cavalier-Keck and Jessica Holmes, two of the speakers during the rally, stressed the importance of keeping the concerns of underrepresented communities in mind during the fight for equal rights. The two spoke about concerns from Native Americans, African Americans, Latinx Americans and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Vicki Boyer, who represented the Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party at the march, said the organization’s goal going forward was to elect as many Democrats as possible in local, state and federal elections. She said attending the march was a good way to get people involved and active.

“Women’s rights in the past century have been progressive rights,” Boyer said. “Until women’s rights are enshrined in the constitution with an Equal Rights Amendment, everything that has been given to us by law, can conceivably be taken away.”

For many, the state issues stem from national problems. 

“If we don’t get Trump out of office, we’re just in really big trouble,” Michelle Putterman said. 

@SLesnewski @brittmcgee21

@DTHCityState |

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