Women March in Solidarity: Jackson Women’s March organizers hope to keep the protest momentum going one year later

By on January 17, 2018

Protesters from Jackson march in support of the inaugural Women’s March in January 2017. (PHOTO: Jessica Sell Chambers)

On January 20 of last year, a grassroots protest dubbed the Women’s March was scheduled to coincide with the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump. The march went down in history as the largest single-day organized protest in the history of the United States.

In Wyoming, solidarity marches were held in towns across the state, including Jackson. Organizers now hope an anniversary march to be held Saturday will keep the momentum of political change going after a rough first year under the Trump administration.

Many of the same people involved in organizing the march in Jackson last year are involved in planning this year’s anniversary march, including Joan Anzelmo of Jackson. “This year many are planning to march to remind everyone that we are all still paying attention and that it’s important that citizens stay engaged with their government at all levels, local state and national,” Anzelmo said. “And we’re going to use part of this women’s march to encourage people to check their voter registration status to make sure they keep their voices heard.”

Another organizer of the Jackson event, Christie Koriakin, 32, said that last year, Trump’s election as president galvanized her into taking a stand politically, and she hopes this year’s march will keep voters — especially younger ones — increasing their levels of political involvement.

Despite the name, the march is open to anyone, Anzelmo and Koriakin said. There is also no unifying political message associated with the march. The key thing is to get as many people involved in the process.

“I think it’s a little unfortunate that it’s called ‘the Women’s March,’” Koriakin said. “This is a much more inclusive march.

“It’s really for anyone that feels like they’re not being accurately represented by the government that we have now.”

The 2017 marches became a landmark for women’s issues such as equal rights, equal pay and reproductive rights, but it also focused attention on other issues such as healthcare access, immigration issues, workers’ rights and racial issues.

In Washington D.C. and cities and towns across the U.S. and the globe, millions marched in solidarity, with many wearing the now-iconic “pussyhat,” a knitted or crocheted pink hat. The hat was named to reclaim the word pussy, after Trump infamously said in a recording made public before the election that women would let him “grab them by the pussy” because of his fame.
It was estimated by Washington Post that between 3.2 and 5.6 million people took part in the 2017 marches nationwide.

The marches kicked off a tumultuous year.

Almost immediately after taking office, Trump attempted to uphold his campaign promise of destroying the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. The ACA provides for insurance marketplaces that allow people who may not have insurance from their employer to purchase insurance from private insurers. Despite the lack of a viable plan to replace it, the Trump administration, aided by allies in the Republican controlled congress, attempted to repeal the law wholesale.

While not successful in repealing the law, the administration has been successful at changing several key aspects of the act through the use of executive orders and a part of the tax overhaul bill passed by congress at the end of 2017.

“Many people are going to lose their healthcare they had through the Affordable Care Act,” Anzelmo said. “Premiums are going up because some elected leaders have done things to make the local marketplaces unstable.”

Other issues, such as immigration, have also spurred a continuation of the protests begun a year earlier at marches across the nation. Anzelmo cited immigrant rights and civil rights as other key concerns for organizers, saying the march is essentially about fundamental human rights.

In Wyoming though, the march may take on a dimension that may not be as prominent at marches in other states. One issue of particular concern for many Wyomingites is the future of publically-owned lands.

Wyoming’s at-large representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, Liz Cheney, recently voted in favor of a set of rules changes in the House that could make it easier for public lands to be transferred to states. Once states have the land, they may be compelled to sell it to private interests rather than budget already scarce state funds for the land’s upkeep and management.

Cheney also drew ire from many after submitting legislation that would expand helicopter skiing in protected areas in and near Teton County. Cheney reportedly crafted the bill without consulting local governments or county conservation district boards.

Last week, serial candidate Rex Rammell also announced his intention to run for Governor to replace term-limited Matt Mead. Rammell made waves by suggesting the state should take possession of federal lands by force if necessary, even suggesting the arrest of federal government employees who did not abandon their offices upon demand.

“Right here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, our American public lands that are such a unique legacy are at risk now,” Anzelmo explained. Many environmental protections have been rolled back by the Trump administration, and areas declared as public monuments by previous administrations have been de-listed.

“For local citizens here in Jackson and Teton County, the very things that make this area so special to live and work and recreate in… are at great risk right now.” Anzelmo said.

While it may be true that the Women’s March is for everyone, not just women, there are still many women’s issues that organizers hope to address. The issue of sexual discrimination and harassment took on a whole other dimension in 2017 with the #MeToo movement, which blew the lid off systemic problems in the media industry and politics.

Left in the wake of the #MeToo movement are the now tarnished reputations of people with storied careers spanning decades in film and news. Even Minnesota Senator Al Franken, a darling of the left, promised to resign his senate seat in the near future after allegations of improper behavior.

And here in the Equality State, things are, well, not quite equal for everyone. The first state to extend to women the right to vote 20 years before the state was even admitted to the union, Wyoming also passed a law guaranteeing equal pay for men and women school teachers. Today, however, the state ranks 39th in equal pay for women, with women on average taking home only 77 cents per dollar earned by men.

To activists like Koriakin and Anzelmo, the pay gap is just one of the myriad issues facing Wyoming citizens as they go to the polls this November and vote in the mid-terms. And that’s why organizers of the march are hopeful the event will encourage everyone to make sure they are registered to vote, and that they do it.

“We’re just really worried about the future,” Anzelmo said. PJH

The anniversary Women’s March will be held Saturday, Jan. 20. It will begin at 2 p.m. at Home Ranch Visitor Center on Gill Street in Jackson. Another event, a postcard party — an event where attendees fill out and mail postcards to elected officials — will be held Thursday, Feb 1 at Eleanor’s Bar and Grill, 832 W. Broadway in Jackson.

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