By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — More marches and/or demonstrations are anticipated as a result of so many people advocating women’s rights in reaction to the inauguration of America’s new president.
Women’s March signs saying “We’re just getting started” impressed former Metro Councilman Kwame Leo Lillard, 77, of Bordeaux while marching Saturday. “The question is whether this can be sustained.
“Occupy Wall Street fizzled out,” Lillard said. “They have to have sustaining infrastructure.”
“The organizers did a good job on how people signed up so they can be contacted later and that people will stay engaged as these issues come up,” retired attorney Kitty Calhoon said.
“A march is an easy thing. It’s the hard work after that. I’m hopeful about that,” said Calhoon, 73, of West Nashville, noting many reasons for marching. “For some it was protesting the election… For others it was the tone of many of [the president’s] remarks about women and immigrants and obviously women’s rights and [the president’s] inner circle attitude on women’s reproductive rights and potential policies on immigration and health care.”
Contact information was collected by groups including Awake Tennessee led by Sara Beth Myers of East Nashville. She was “astounded by the number of people who signed up” with the three-year-old-group that drafted, lobbied and passed five state laws on health and safety for women and children. Stalking, domestic violence and the deadly cytomegalo virus are targeted by the laws. See awaketn.org, a co-sponsor of Nashville’s march.
Ten demonstrators, mostly women, targeted lawmakers here during the inauguration in Washington. They blocked Capitol doors where Rev. Keith Caldwell was charged with obstruction of a passageway. In the “Blackwood Jail” processing bay, other inmates “knew the 10 of us were political arrestees” because of TV news, so they “exploded in clapping and cheers.”
“The election,” Caldwell said, “was not the end but the beginning.”
Nurse practitioner Clare Sullivan, 65, of Belmont-Hillsboro, saw people concerned about “the direction this administration is taking … people appointed to departments for which they’re not qualified; Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, the Labor Department, I could go on.”
Sullivan is on the Tennessee Health Care Campaign board, advocating, since 1989, affordable, accessible, quality health care, and increased access to Medicaid. She opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act until there’s a replacement.
Calhoon anticipates “more marches. I do think it’s just the beginning… There will be more … communication with elected officials, but also voter registration and running candidates. I hope there will be a broad array of engagement.”
Lillard concurs with media reports: it was the largest protest in Nashville. But he estimates 45,000 participated at one time or another; three time media estimates of 15,000.
The over-riding cause was females first. “Half the signs said that in one form or another,” he said. Signs saying “Future Nasty Girl” and “Nice girls don’t make history” were held with babies in strollers.
Old activists saw young protestors and said “This must be their ’60s,” Lillard said.