East Nashvillians Stand Up for Women's March

On Saturday, Jan. 21, millions of people from all over the world demonstrated solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, an event demanding support for social justice issues following a divisive presidential election.
     Citizens across the country participated, including about 15,000 from Nashville. The local event saw them march from Cumberland Park to Public Square, holding signs and chanting, with nearly all of their calls for change pointed squarely at President Donald Trump.
     Of course, East Nashville was well represented among these advocates for change. And for many, the compulsion to demonstrate needs no explanation. “I don’t think it was as much a conscious decision as simply being compelled to show up,” explains Heather Lose, a graphic designer and founder of freeform radio station WXNA, who lives in Inglewood. “I mean, our country just elected Donald Trump as our leader, and your readers know all the stuff he’s done and said, so why waste column inches regurgitating it all, right?”
     Attendees chose to participate in support or defiance of any combination of issues, from health care to immigration. If an overriding mission can be distilled from such a large event, it was a day of protest for the direction the country seems to be headed with particular emphasis on protecting, or instilling, women’s rights.
     “I participated to make it known that I support all of the women’s rights that our previous and current generations have worked so hard to obtain,” says Val Knust, a massage therapist who has lived in East Nashville since 2004 and serves on the board for the Historic East Nashville Merchants Association. “We all want the new administration to know that we stand together and will continue to pursue justice for the rights we have and will not be quieted when threatened by removal and/or restriction of our rights.”
     Though Nashville is well known for its status as a blue city in a red state, there were some questions about how much of a crowd would attend the event. For those who were there that day, those fears were quickly abated.
     “I had heard on Thursday that the Nashville attendance was predicted to cap over 6,000,” says Wendy Winsor, a financial analyst and longtime East Nashville resident. “By Friday night, it was over 7,000. When I showed up Saturday morning, cars were already backed up across the Shelby Street Bridge almost an hour before the event was to begin. Ten thousand marchers was the updated estimate and, as everyone knows, by the end of it all there were over 15,000.”
     Anger may have driven most attendees to demonstrate and frustration with legislators still abounds, but many left Nashville’s Women’s March with a feeling of hopefulness that if such an event can take place, it shows that they are not alone.
     “The march was very peaceful with all genders, all races, all people coming together in equality,” says Heather Baker, a branding specialist and East Nashvillian for 17 years. “Men, women, fathers, mothers with strollers, grandmothers to teenagers who marched, all bonded together for a greater message. That message was about our future, our voice, and equality for this world.”
     East Nashville was represented at the parent march in Washington, too. “Honestly, words are hard to describe the feeling of being there amidst almost a million people standing up and chanting for the same cause,” says Kim Collins, a musician, interior designer, and wellness coach from East Nashville. “I mean, I don’t know if any of us attending knew what to expect. We just knew that it was important to be there. It felt like you were in the nucleus of a major historic shift. … As I looked out to the endless sea of people, tears swelled. I could not believe how many people peacefully showed up.”
     For many, the day marked the beginning of more actions to come, not just a standalone event. It’s fair to say that the country can expect more calls for change out of East Nashville in the future. “I will continue to work to make my voice and those of others heard by our representatives and senators,” Winsor says. “There is a lot of energy that can be harnessed from what I saw on Saturday.”