Thousands gathered at Mitchell Park and marched through the streets of downtown at the “Truth to Power” San Luis Obispo Women’s March (WMSLO) Saturday, Jan. 19.
This year’s “Truth to Power” theme was shared by several of the marches that took place in California, including Women’s March Los Angeles, Women’s March San Francisco, and Women’s March Santa Barbara.
“[Truth to Power] is really about the power of speaking one’s truths,” lead coordinator of WMSLO Dawn Addis said. “The women we’ve voted into power ran as themselves. They ran as mothers, as sisters, as LGBTQIA women, as women with disabilities, as women who have been victimized by gun violence or systemic police brutality. We’ve seen all these women use their truths in their campaign and in their messages to the public.”
The most diverse Congress the United States has ever seen was sworn in after the most recent election. The first two Muslim-American women were elected to Congress and the first openly bisexual woman was elected to the Senate, along with a record-breaking number of women elected.
“We saw some changes this election year,” WMSLO volunteer Christina Delekta said. “But it’s time to keep going, we’re not stopping.”
Delekta, along with a few other demonstrators who attended both this year’s and last year’s marches, noted that the 2019 march had a much smaller turnout than the preceding year.
“[Last year] this park was overflowing,” march attendee Craig Jacobson said. “There was not grass left on the ground.”
Delekta said it might be due to the champion diversity in the newly elected Congress that people are “slacking back” because of a shared sense of accomplishment, causing the relatively smaller turnout.
The coordinators of this year’s march in San Luis Obispo are working to keep the momentum of the movement even as the country undergoes political change.
“[We want] to keep people motivated and unified,” Addis said. “We need to stay true to the cause and true to the course. We’re making long lasting change. We started in 2018 and we’re continuing that into the 2020 elections and beyond.”
The Women’s March movement, Addis noted, needs more work to achieve the desired unification and inclusivity. There are various grassroots Women’s March movements across the nation, and while many of these organization share some continuity in their messages, they are distinct and separate organizations, according to a statement from Women’s March California. Women’s March Inc., which held the march in Washington D.C. on Saturday, is an entirely separate organization from Women’s March California.
“We’re not just committed to this section of the population, we’re committed to women’s rights and human rights for all sections of our community,” Addis said. “[We need] to make sure women’s marches are inclusive of all people.”
The coordinators of WMSLO hope the movement begins to unify and remain alive and strong in the years to come.
“We’re not done yet,” Delekta said. “Not by far.”