DPS employees reflect on their March on Washington
By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Two Dearborn Public Schools employees were among the estimated half million people converging on Washington, D.C., Jan 21 for the Women’s March on Washington.
DPS Communications Assistant Leslie Herrick and Dearborn High School Social Worker Stacy Rumler joined the tens of thousands at the march to protest women’s rights and other issues including immigration, the environment, freedom of religion, LGBTQ rights and healthcare.
The protest also aimed to send a message to U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration during their first day in office.
Herrick attended the march with three others from the Dearborn Democratic Club while Rumler traveled with her 13-year-old daughter and two retired teachers from Dearborn.
“I felt abandoned by the current national dialogue, so the march gave me the opportunity to be with other people feeling the same way I was and have a voice,” Herrick said. “I was amazed at how many people were in one place at one time sharing power, hopeful and positive messages.”
More than 600 solidarity marches took place worldwide drawing about 4.8 million demonstrators in cities like Detroit, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Paris and London.
Rumler decided to attend the march the minute she heard about it because she was “disturbed by the hateful, divisive rhetoric that was being spoken.
“I was concerned about disrespectful behaviors and the platform that led me to believe important advances made would be dismantled. I did not want to normalize it for my daughter. I wanted to show her that you cannot just talk about taking action you actually have to do it.
“My concern was we were moving, in fear, away from the tenets that our country is built upon, admired and respected for.”
Herrick and Rumler cited the sense of solidarity and seeing all the people with creative signs and outfits out in full force with democracy in action.
“I was glad for the opportunity to stand together and show support for issues important to women and families across the country,” Herrick said. “During the march I wore my ‘Take on Hate’ campaign pin to show cultural understanding and unity.”
Traveling to Washington, D.C., came with some delays and challenges for Rumler, but her sense of hope and excitement remained high while being around thousands of people cheering and holding hands.
“There were lots of young people, men, women and children,” she said. “I felt a great sense of hope, assurance that we were doing the right thing, supported in our efforts and pride in my fellow Americans. I also felt a great sense of community.”
Rumler said it was important for her to attend the Women’s March because it gave her and others a voice during the transition of presidents and administrations.
“It has instilled in a great many people that we have power and should use it to fight for what each of us believes in,” she said. “I felt it was important to attend so that behaviors and rhetoric did not become normalized. We are better than that.
“Also, because people fought long and hard for the rights of women, for the environment, etc., and together we need to assure this ground is not lost.”
After the march, participants realized that the real work is just beginning, and a united effort is necessary to accomplish their goals. A 10 Actions for the first 100 Days campaign was started by the organizers of the march to ensure their voices are heard.
“We marched because it is our right, but also to send a message to the leaders that issues are important,” Herrick said. “We can’t just step back and let all the progress we made on social and environmental issues disappear.”
Rumler also hopes the protest works to stop the current attack on human rights and the environment.
She said accomplishments of the march would be to “develop a systematic way of staying connected to communicate, organize and advocate for change,” she said. “I hope we work as a collective group to not lose strides we have made in the environment, civil rights, human rights, and on and on. To reduce fear, bridge the divisiveness, and instill respect for each person.”
For more information on the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., and the campaign go to womensmarch.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at email@example.com.)