BROWNSVILLE — Women from all over the Rio Grande Valley marched in solidarity with others across the nation.
Their message was unity — to highlight that “vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of (the) country,” according to the Women’s March on Washington mission statement.
“It’s all about looking at the values we hold dear,” said Joyce Hamilton, a co-organizer of the event. “That’s our focus.”
Yesterday morning, more than 300 people attended the march. After the march, they listened to six guest speakers address issues of importance to the Valley: immigration rights, health care, women’s rights and environmental issues.
The speakers were Martha Sanchez from La Union del Pueblo Entero, Lucy Felix and Paula Saldana from National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, author Jennifer Harbury, Stefanie Herweck from the Sierra Club and journalist Emma Perez-Trevino.
The Brownsville event was the second affiliated march in Texas. The first was Austin, Hamilton said.
“(Teresa Saldivar, committee chair for the Women’s March in Brownsville) saw it and decided to do one here in Brownsville. The folks up in Washington wanted us to join Austin, but that was a long way to go so we kept it in Brownsville,” Hamilton said.
Many people Hamilton heard from said they are concerned with the direction of the country, so they wanted to become a collective voice.
Dallas resident Becky Folse was in Brownsville for vacation and decided to participate for that very reason.
“I can’t quietly stand by and watch us go in a direction that I believe is wrong,” Folse said. “I believe many of the concerns have a profound effect on people here, whether it’s women’s rights, healthcare or immigration.”
Saldivar was concerned at first that people would not show up. She was happy with the response.
“I’m very proud to see the Valley showing up,” Saldivar said. “I hope they’re energized into civic engagement and become more involved in their communities.”
Whether it is running for office, attending a town hall meeting or being vocal about concerns, Saldivar wants people to use their voice.
“If we want change, it has to come from us,” Saldivar said.