Meg Hibbert Contributing writer
Dozens of Craig County and Salem women expressed their concerns over the future of our nation and the need to be kind to each other as part of the 4,000-person-strong Women’s March on Roanoke on Jan. 21.
Craig residents Robin Menez and her daughter Olivia, Sue Crenshaw and Shelly Garman and her daughter were among the marchers.
Crenshaw’s sign read “We the People – LOVE Trumps HATE and FEAR.” She went not as a statement against President Donald J. Trump, but “because I want to see a kinder, more inclusive America,” she explained. “Words hurt,” she said, referring to some of the rhetoric and divisiveness of the presidential campaign.
“We should all be kinder and more compassionate toward one another. A lot of people were there at the Roanoke march for similar reasons. It was about human rights across the board,” added Crenshaw, who is a member of the Craig County School Board.
Although she was not in the march to show opposition to Trump, she did say, “As the mother of a special needs son, I found his mocking of that reporter highly offensive during his campaign.” She hopes that the new administration will promote less polarization in the nation and that people will not disrespect those who did choose to march.
“I respect the people who chose not to march and I hope everybody will show that kind of respect to everyone. Whether people agree with it or not, we can all have a voice,” Crenshaw said. “For me, it was an opportunity to get out and show some love.”
Like Crenshaw, many carried signs supporting the need for people of all backgrounds to get along, as well as women’s rights, equality and tolerance. An overflow crowd estimated at more than 4,000 women, men and children gathered at Elmwood Park.
Several women carried signs or wore shirts proclaiming themselves “nasty”, a reference Trump used to attack Hillary Clinton during one of the presidential debates. Two of the younger Salem women who took part in the Roanoke March were 24-year-old Ruthie Greene and Roanoke College senior Taylor Briese.
Briese explained she participated because “First of all, it was a chance as a young historian to take part in a march and a movement that I hope will be remembered for decades to come. I wanted to be a part of this because I am someone who wants to hear all ideas and thoughts about the world. I did not agree with every idea that was represented at the march. But I do agree with the right for every one of those ideas being expressed in an open and loving format.”
She continued, “Lastly, I am a huge believer in love and that is what the march represented in my eyes. Loving diversity, openness and loving the ability that in the United States of America all are free to have an opinion and voice it. So, I felt I had to be at the march to represent my pride to be an American and march with others who love America and what it stands for.”
Briese said she decided close to the time of the Jan. 21 march to participate. “I found a group of friends and mentors who were going and rode in with them. We spent the day together and had a great time. Getting together with an immensely diverse group of people, some of whom are my dear friends, rallying for the collective right to celebrate what we believe in and demonstrating that we are ready to fight for love and fight for this country.”
Green, who graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2015 and is working in a lawyer’s firm, said she wasn’t originally planning on going, either.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be like. Protests aren’t usually my kind of scene, and I didn’t want to be a part of something that was going to perpetrate divisive rhetoric. I wanted to go because it was important to me to continue to be a part of listening.
That is what I have mostly learned about this election cycle,” Greene said, “How to listen to people who look like me, but think differently than me. I have learned that it is sometimes easier to listen to people who are clearly different than me in race, religion, or lifestyle. But it can be hardest to seek out people who are different than me, but look the same.”