2017-01-26 / Front Page

Message from marchers to others: ‘Do something’

At least 20 make trip
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


IT WASN’T only marchers in Washington. Leelanau County residents, from left, Judy and Jamie LaFave and Alex and Jane Maximovich, all of north Lake Leelanau, attended the inauguration and the Michigan Inaugural Gala that followed. Inauguration coverage can be found on page 19. IT WASN’T only marchers in Washington. Leelanau County residents, from left, Judy and Jamie LaFave and Alex and Jane Maximovich, all of north Lake Leelanau, attended the inauguration and the Michigan Inaugural Gala that followed. Inauguration coverage can be found on page 19. Geradine Simkins of Cedar spent Monday regrouping after a whirlwind weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

She was among at least 20 people from Leelanau County who went by air, bus and car to participate in the Women’s March in our nation’s capital.

Plans for the march — held not only in Washington, D.C. but in cities across the country, including Traverse City, and the world — began soon after the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Trump took the oath of office Friday.

“I was stunned, as many were, by his success in the election,” said Simkins, who has been a political activist for more than 50 years. “I was rather devastated, so when I heard about the march, I knew I had to go.”


COUNTY RESIDENTS participating in the Women’s March on Washington were, from left, Char Goral, Anne Hoyt, Nancy Gallagher, Geradine Simkins and Denise Sica. COUNTY RESIDENTS participating in the Women’s March on Washington were, from left, Char Goral, Anne Hoyt, Nancy Gallagher, Geradine Simkins and Denise Sica. Simkins spent her career as a midwife, advocating for women and children. She made the trip to speak for not only them but anyone who believes they have been “marginalized.”

“People came because of their concern about Trump and the divisiveness of the country,” Simkins said. “Because of the messages of misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia heard during the campaign.

“But there were so many people speaking to human rights on so many levels … race, class, gender, healthcare, the environment.”

Estimates vary on the number of participants in the march. Published reports put attendance at 500,000 in Washington, D.C. and three million worldwide.

Local participants report waits of one to two hours for metro buses to take them from into the capital. Anka Harkness, a retired special education teacher from Centerville Township, reports finding thousands and thousands of marchers — as far as the eye could see. She met people from Florida, Minnesota and Hawaii during the protest.

“As soon as I learned about the trip, I knew it was what I had to do,” said Harkness, who has three grown children, twin grandsons and also protested during the Vietnam War. “I was there to support women’s rights and human rights … To let them know, we’re not going to be lying down.”

Among younger participants in the march were two Leland High School freshmen: Brooke Dourron and Emily Rose Buhr. The girls drove with their mothers, Heather Dourron and Marsha Buhr.

“It was about equality. But everyone had their own reason for going,” Emily Rose said. “I felt empowered after I left.”

Brooke Dourron, already recognized as a leader among her peers, said participating in the march made her more determined to make her positions known to others.

“We should be able to speak our mind without putting down others,” she said.

Her friend, Emily Rose, said that the experience dovetails into her upcoming trip to Lansing for a Youth in Government conference.

She and several other Leland students will be attending the statewide event.

Also among county residents identified by the Enterprise as making the trip to Washington were Char Goral, Linda Smith, Audrey Smith, Anne Hoyt of Cedar; Susan and Brian Price and Kelly and Anna Lively of Maple City; Nancy Gallagher and Rose Hollander of Suttons Bay; Denise Sica and Madeleine Vedel of Northport and Traci Cruz of Empire.

What’s next for the demonstrators?

“We don’t want our trip to stand for nothing,” Harkness said.

She and several of the other county march participants are scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss future plans.

Simkins suggested there are many things that can be done to continue the movement’s momentum.

She has already written her congressman and U.S. senators to let them know of her beliefs. Her other suggestions are to work on a political campaign or to volunteer for an organization whose mission “speaks to your heart.”

“Do something,” Simkins said.

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