Assistant Multimedia Editor
In Jan. 2017, the nation’s women took to the streets in solidarity and protest after the inauguration of current president Donald Trump. On Saturday, Jan. 19, Mill Creek Park in downtown Bakersfield saw the second anniversary of that protest, as an unexpectedly large number of attendees gathered to listen, be heard and speak together at the 2019 Kern County Women’s March.
Organized again this year by Women’s March Kern County, the Bakersfield march is one of many annual marches around the state and across the country. Last year’s event brought an estimated 4,000 people into Mill Creek Park, and this year’s march appears to have brought even more new and wider variety of local vendors, as well as representatives from community social and charitable organizations.
Speeches, prayer, poetry and song took the mobile stage in the park throughout the event, which began at 10 a.m., but was very well attended even a half hour early. The march itself began around noon. Police held traffic as thousands rounded from the park entrance on 21st Street to turn south on Q Street, march down to 17th Street, and back to the park along the creekside walkway. Carrying protest signs and chanting slogans of peace, inclusion, and equality, the marchers drew both curious onlookers and community documentarians of all types.
Women’s March Kern County relies heavily on volunteer help to set up and operate the event. One local volunteer, Anabelle Casarez, said she was glad Bakersfield has chosen to embrace the Women’s March again this year. “I’ve heard last year in LA was huge, wasn’t able to make it. But I heard it here, and I was like ‘I have to be there.’”
2019 was Casarez’ first women’s march, and from her post at the free water tent, she saw firsthand how the march’s intended spirit of cooperation extended behind the scenes. “People came up and were like, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ I’ve seen people going to different booths, ‘Hey, let me help you pick that up.’ I just love that feeling of wanting to help, and I think I want to do this again next year if it happens,” said Casarez.
In a press release about the event, Women’s March Kern County Executive Director Kimberly Kerchmer talks about how the high profile the march has earned locally is helping the organization, an affiliate of Women’s March California, spread its message of political and social equality. “We are excited to bring Kern County together again for this unifying event that highlights our diversity … at a time when many marginalized communities continue to feel threatened,” said Kerchmer.
The march exceeded the expectations of both the organizers and many people in the community, and all but ensuring that plans for Women’s March 2020 will soon be taking shape.
For more information about the Kern County Women’s March visit www.WomensMarchKernCounty.com