Last year's Women's March was the largest single-day protest in American history, and while Emily Marynczak and Castina Charles can't be sure this Saturday's event will match the inaugural, they're not betting against it.
"I think a whole year's worth of energy is swelling up, and taking to the streets in unity against hatred is very powerful," said Marynczak, a Delmar resident who, along with Charles, from Schenectady, is organizing the Albany event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. "Yes, there are people who are feeling fatigued and perhaps have this sense that it's hopeless. It can feel overwhelming, but we can't afford to be fatalistic. We have to continue this call to action, so I'm hoping for a great turnout."
JANUARY 2017: Union College well represented at Women's March
By most estimates, in 2017, approximately 4 million American women participated in marches in more than 200 different locations across the country. While the main gathering was in Washington, D.C., a day after President Trump's inauguration, this year's main event, organized with the theme, "Power to the Polls," will be in Las Vegas. In New York state, along with the Albany event, major demonstrations are scheduled for New York City, Seneca Falls, Staten Island, Buffalo and Rochester. Also organizing marches are groups in Glens Falls, Hudson, Cobleskill and Lewis (Essex County).
The goal of last year's march was to "advocate for legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women's rights," according to the Women's March website. Last year, Charles, a New York City native who's lived in Schenectady for 10 years, was in support of the event but didn't participate.
"Up until the inauguration of Trump, I wasn't really someone who engaged politically," she said. "I had my opinions and my political stances, but I never advertised them. I was of a mind to keep those things to myself. But after the inauguration, like many people, I felt compelled to do something."
Over the next few weeks of January 2017, Charles' life changed.
"This whole journey of mine has been very transformative," she said. "After the inauguration, I wanted to take that first step. So, I didn't go to that first rally in downtown Albany on Jan. 21, but I did start getting involved. I went to the 'Resist Trump Tuesday' events and thought to myself, 'I can do this.' So on Jan. 31, I had organized my first rally in front of the Leo O'Brien Building in Albany."
Last year's Women's March in Albany was organized by Citizen Action of New York. This year, Marynczak and Charles are representing Altamont Main Street USA and Bethlehem Indivisible, two not-for-profit groups formed after Trump's 2016 election. There are more than 25 groups co-sponsoring the event.
"Sometimes you take one foot off the pedal to zoom in another direction," Marynczak said. "If Citizen Action was going to take the leadership role, Castina and I would have gladly jumped on board with them, but they're hands are full stamping out fires everywhere, and they hadn't asked for a permit for the march yet so we said, 'OK, let's get a permit.'"
A rally will be held in West Capitol Park beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, and among the speakers on hand will be U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy. At the conclusion of the speeches, the women will march around the state Capitol.
Niskayuna's Michelle Ostrelich, who traveled to New York City for last year's march, will be in Albany on Saturday.
"Last year in New York was a phenomenal experience, and the reason for going hasn't changed," Ostrelich said. "That sense of sisterhood and support has carried me through this year, and Saturday I hope to bring my 13- and 10-year-old daughters to experience that same kind of thing. I think there's a greater sense of urgency this year than last."
Marie Miklic, a Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduate and a retired school teacher in the Troy school district, went all the way to Washington, D.C., last year. This year, she's heading to the event in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of women's rights.
"When the white supremacists had their rally in Charlottesville, President Trump said there were good people on both sides," said Miklic, who now lives in Rotterdam. "So, to be honest, I haven't at all become complacent — not one single day. There are so many issues that he doesn't care about. All he's worried about is, 'Hey, look at me.' I've remained enthusiastic and outspoken, and I'm heading to Seneca Falls to meet come college friends. They're having a big event out there, and we thought going to the birthplace of women's rights would be a great way to spend the weekend."