Busloads of Long Islanders will join an expected crowd of more than 200,000 Saturday as part of the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. There they will rally and march in support of women’s rights on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the nation’s 45th president.
At the same time, “sister marches” are planned in all 50 states and 32 other countries. These women and men say they want to make sure their voices are heard in the coming days, weeks and years of the new administration.
In interviews with reporter Carol Polsky, some of these Long Islanders explained what motivates them to board a bus before dawn for the long ride to the nation’s capital. Here are a few of them, in their own words:
Minerva Perez, 50, and Skylar Kelleher, 19, of Sag Harbor
Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA of Eastern Long Island: Part of what is exciting for me, my 19-year-old daughter Skylar Kelleher, a college student, is coming as well. The last time we did something like that she was 3, at the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C. She’s been very politically conscious the last five years. [This march] is showing her this powerless feeling many of us are feeling can be overcome when many people come together around issues they feel strongly about.
Skylar Kelleher, sophomore at SUNY Purchase College:
The biggest reason for me is women’s health, because I just think we need to be able to get birth control and do the things with our bodies that we need to do and not have anyone stop us. I think it’s very important that we do show up. I am nervous about the future, and the nervousness starts with my body. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to do what I need or want to do and that is scary to think about.
Claudia Borecky, 59, Merrick, president of the Bellmore-Merrick Democratic club and county board of election inspector specialist
This is my first time ever doing this. I’ve never gone to Washington and I am so excited. It’s going to be fantastic and historic. After he won, we had our Democratic Club meeting where we were expecting to be celebrating, but we were in shock over the impact it would have, especially on women.
What we’re hearing over and over again is that women were crying because so much is at stake. We don’t want to take back America to a hundred years ago. We’re strong believers in freedom of choice, health care choices. They’re already talking about defunding Planned Parenthood that provides vital services that many women can’t afford. . . I hope it shows [Trump] we are not the minority... I think we need to march on Washington just to show, not only to the people in this country, but to the people in the world that we are not going to sit back and let these things happen.
Charmaine Robinson, “over 50,” Hempstead, nursing assistant
It's really important for us to participate and express our view, to show that our voice can be heard not just verbally but physically. It’s on behalf of women who want our voices to be recognized, not politically, but as humans, as people. I look forward to being in this women’s march to demonstrate my courage, my strength, my ethnic background and the empowerment of our personal lives.
I’m going with my union. . .:the union is us, the union is people so the empowerment of the union empowers me to be part of this important event. I’m hoping for the best because the people have spoken and I just pray and hope for unity and to bring us together and not divide us. Ultimately we are one nation in this wonderful country. I hope our voices will be heard.
Sylvia Silberger, 46, and Bill Larsen, 58, and 6-month-old son Kiam, of Hempstead
Sylvia Silberger, professor of mathematics at Hofstra University: I am just so shocked at the behavior of Donald Trump that I want the world to know that I don’t condone it and I hope he starts to act more presidential. His reactivity to things scares me. He doesn’t respect women, or African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans or immigrants. He doesn’t respect people, period, except for himself. His inability to control his tweets makes me very nervous -- I feel like he has a very thin skin and can’t control himself. . .We're members of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island and we value justice and compassion."
Bill Larsen, retired engineer: The human race is half women and everyone needs an equal voice in this world. I’m concerned from all the evidence so far that the Trump administration isn’t going to meet my standards. I believe in equal rights for women, Planned Parenthood, health care, the environment; I don’t believe that leading with your fist is the way to have the world succeed. I would like solidarity among people who believe in what we believe, sending a message we’re not going to sit back and let our rights be trampled. I’m afraid that a hyper-aggressive stance is going to start wars. He has no record, he changes what he says at will, whimsically, to get attention and constituencies ... We have a young child and we want there to be a world there for him ... everybody, including Donald Trump, has to look at this world as a resource that has to be treated very, very carefully. Someone with such aggression and bravado, I don’t feel comfortable giving him the keys to the car.
Sonia Spar, 43, Southold, works for a human and civil rights organization
I have two boys that I want to raise understanding the importance to advocate for gender equality and civil rights. I want them to become boys who treat their girl peers respectfully and who turn out to be feminist men. We have to raise our voices for equality. And I go because we need to understand that the United States has a global role and women all around the world are looking at us.
I hope to be able to see women and men from all walks of life and backgrounds get together to advocate for women’s rights, reproductive rights, the LGBT community. It’s all getting together to raise the voice of unity to fight discrimination and to try to do something for a better world.
Diana Weaving, 57, Huntington, Brentwood school district bilingual teaching assistant
I’m going down there to be part of the crowd in support of women’s rights, reproductive rights, equitable access to education and equal pay, opportunity for advancement in the workplace.
I’m seeing state after state closing down access to reproductive health care to the point where there are not very many places lower income women can go for their health care. I could be there for immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter — clearly I don’t think the country is going in the right direction.
That’s kind of the hope, adding my voice and my body to a more progressive agenda. I hope it will let the new administration know that people aren’t going to take remarks sitting down and are going to a lot more active about things, and are hoping to become more involved in the democratic and legislative process. I think too many people are complacent, thinking once you’ve achieved civil rights that it could never be taken away, but that doesn’t look like it is the case if you believe the talk.
Jim Shaw, 52, Greenport, electrician
I’ve never been political. I’ve had the luxury of letting other people fight for me my entire life and I think it’s time to stand up and be heard. Just what’s going on, I feel like it’s become too important not to have a voice. I believe women’s issues are human issues and they affect us all. It’s all the issues: the defunding of Planned Parenthood, marginalizing women and women’s issues, Russian hacking, health care, the [push to] repeal and replace ACA. I think everyone who is concerned about all of these issues is looking for an outlet and a way to express their voice.
Lisa Marie Simon, 58, Port Washington, licensed clinical social worker
I believe in the rights of women. As Hillary said, “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights."
I do not believe nor support Donald Trump’s vision for America! I do not want to build walls between countries and people. I want to support President Obama’s invitation to our country (in his farewell address), “If you want things to change, then lace up your shoes and get involved!"
So, I am lacing up my boots on Jan. 21, 2017 and marching for change! What do I want to accomplish for this march? To send a very strong message to Donald Trump that women are here to stay, we have a voice, and together we can make change in American. As a Unitarian Universalist, I stand on the side of LOVE! My message to Donald Trump, “tear down these walls!”
Susan Cuoccio, 59, Floral Park, autism consultant and early childhood educator
Since right after the election I felt that we need to do something, our voices have to be heard. . . I know how far we’ve come from the 1970s, when I started working, to now, and no way will I take a step back. We’re just starting to be equal in the workplace and they don’t want to move forward. I voted for a woman who I thought would protect these things - instead we have him . . . If nothing else I’m hoping the numbers are what they say they’ll be in D.C. and around the country. They’re calling us snowflakes but when you have a lot of snowflakes you have a blizzard, and that’s what I’m hoping: not just to show the president but the other people in the country, the less than half of the country that thought fit to vote for him, that we’re not going to go down easily.
Lorene Custer, 56, Cutchogue, middle school teacher
I’m going down to celebrate women. This administration coming in now needs a wake-up call about how important women’s issues are. . .We’d like the parade to have a positive spin. I want to meet like-minded women who were hoping to be in D.C. the day before celebrating the first woman president. We want to be seen as women who are full participants in American political life. I would ask [women who voted for Trump] to keep their eyes and ears open to look at what he does and says for the next four years and hopefully we are wrong about believing Donald Trump is not good for America.