International Women's Day rally comes to Hemming Park 'to support all women'

"To support all women - underline, bold 'all.'" 

That's what one woman at the International Women's Day Rally had to say when asked why she came out. 

Clad in red, men and women showed up to Hemming Park Wednesday night around 6 p.m. to join in the international day of rallies for women.

Samantha Sweitzer, a local teacher, says she came out to support all women - emphasis on 'all.'

"Groups of women get left out," she says. "Like trans women and black women and I want to include them." Her sign can be seen to include many different women of color, disabled and transgender women.

Many at the rally spoke about intersectionality; the idea that the struggle for equality is not just women or just black - it must be all things at once. Oppressive institutions, intersectional theory says, are all connected and thus cannot be tackled one at a time.

The women's rally in downtown Jacksonville featured ten speakers - from the Miss South Asia winner to a Palestinian woman speaking about the myths of Zionism. 

Sara Mahmoud was invited to speak about international women's struggles, including the troubles facing women from the six countries President Donald Trump banned immigration from.

"[Zionism] isn't Jewish versus Muslim," Mahmoud explains, "there are actually Jewish Palestinians."

She was among ten women speakers at the event.

GALLERY | International Women's Day rally at Hemming Park

Many women brought signs railing against sexism and others brought signs encouraging women. The crowd of several hundred mainly huddled near the center of Hemming Park. Children attended as well, with one even bringing her own sign! (Not pictured - she was playing when First Coast News was at the event)

Heather Fritton and Eleanor Wilson with the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition worked to organize the event. The event coincided with marches in D.C. and other major cities around the world. Originally organized by the Socialist Party of America in New York back on February 28, 1909, the event was moved to March 8 after a demonstration of textile workers in Petrograd on 1917 set in motion the Russian Revolution.

Today, the celebration commemorates the movement for women's rights in every country around the globe.

"I've been involved with International Women's Day for three years," says Fritton. She says she still faces oppression in her job at the hardware store where she works - from both customers and other employees. "Still fighting in 2017 - which is kind of ridiculous."

Wilson has been an activist with the JPC since 2012 and has worked almost constantly with the left-leaning organization. She says she's worked on a lot of issues. She says intersectionality is important to her. "A lot of feminism focuses on white women," she says. "It's really important for us to lift up [immigrant and trans] women and give them a place to speak and feel safe."

Another attendee, Maria Garcia, wearing a sign that said, "Protect trans, indigenous, disabled, immigrant, sex worker, black women" says she attended because she's a women. 

"I'm acknowledging the struggle of all the women before me," she says. "My grandma had ten children. Today we have the freedom to plan our families."

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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