A large contingent of Hemet San Jacinto Valley women, many dressed in white and bearing signs, rallied Saturday morning, Jan. 18, joining thousands of others across the nation to celebrate women’s right to vote, a right won by suffragettes in 1920.
The ladies, young and old, children and some men gathered at Hemet’s Gibbel Park for several hours of marching and calling attention to their power at the polls up and down Kirby Street to Florida Avenue.
Marchers waved dozens of signs with slogans and photos, saying things such as “Women to Vote 2020,” “Women, You Can Change U.S.A. VOTE,” and the “Patriarchy won’t smash itself!” Other signs reflected some current political stands by women like “Stop Sexual Violence,” “Our House 2020” and “Keep Your Policies off my Body.”
Monica Cary, one of the organizers of the local Women’s March, said the rally was meant “to show some civic awareness and action for whatever your body needs and to fight for women’s rights whatever your color is.”
She said, “Whatever your party is, Republican or Democrat, exercise your vote.”
She said since the government makes so many decisions on everything from jobs to schools “it is important for women to participate in the vote. We are mothers, sisters. We are professionals. We are humans. We care for people. We are a great country, and it is important to fight for our rights.”
She said it was good that local women could gather at the park for the March instead of going to Riverside or someplace else to march for women. She said the day’s march, with more than 100 women and others, was twice as large as it was in 2019.
Heather MacDonald got into the spirit of the march by wearing a long white dress like the suffragettes who took part in protests and so-called illegal assemblies wore in the 1920s, demanding the government give women them the right to vote. They argued successfully that men of color who were freed from slavery in the 1860s could now vote and women still could not.
Many other women in the Hemet march wore white as well honoring the suffragettes of the past.
Marilyn Hansen held a sign saying, “Women Hold up More than Half of the World,” and stood with the protestors on the corner of Florida Avenue and Kirby Street. She told her story about her grandmother walking in one of the suffragettes protests in 1920, noting her family came to America on the Mayflower to America 400 years ago. William Stewart of that time, was one of her relatives as well as John C. Calhoon, the nation’s seventh vice president. She said for the longest time women could not vote. In 1970, a woman couldn’t even get a credit card. “Now we are doing more,” she said, “Men are raised by women. Women put men where they are today. Now we are in Congress, and we are going to have a woman as president.”
Deni Antionette Mazingo, a candidate for the 42nd Assembly Seat now occupied by Chad Mayes, was active in the march, with her two dogs.
“I am here today to celebrate the women’s suffrage,” Mazingo said. “And how far we have come, and how far we have not come.”
As a woman of color, she said after that win, women of color still did not have the right to vote, since “we were still not considered human beings. So, it was many, many more years after that even though it said everyone white or black had the right to vote, the south found a way to hold us back. So, I am here to celebrate and thank God that we have come to where we are today.”
She said women should “be proud. Fight for your rights and the most important way to do it is by voting.”
The march and protest continued for several hours with many passing motorists honking their approval or making other traffic noises.
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.