Men and women march in Chicago as part of the March to the Polls on Saturday, October 13th. “A lot of people share their concerns on social media, and while that’s nice to share your thoughts, that doesn’t change things,” one protester said at the event. Photo by Kate Peplowski
by Kate Peplowski, STAFF WRITER
25 October 2018
Thousand of people gathered in Grant Park on the morning of October 13th to encourage new voters and express their political opinions on the upcoming elections. Music could be heard from live performances on stage, and echoes of passionate speakers resonated through the tall skyscrapers of Chicago. Despite the chill of the October air, warmth radiated from person to person as they came together to support one common action: voting.
The event was organized to invite the citizens of Chicago to initiate their views on democracy and support women as recent events unfolded regarding the Kavanaugh hearing, sexual assault cases, and the social standpoint of women in America today.
The march began at 9 a.m. and was kicked off with public speakers and live music. Despite the early hours, people of all ages congregated to show their support for the march, and the importance of the vote was emphasized through and through.
“We’re here to encourage people to vote, especially early voting, to make sure that they can get their vote in and make positive change in our government,” protester Kathy Harrison said.
With election day approaching on November 6th, emphasis was placed heavily on getting to the polls to vote as soon as possible.
“It’s 2018, we’re not sitting at home anymore unless we want to. We’re trying to put more women in office that represent women’s interests. That’s all,” Harrison added.
Many women are advocating for more female officials that give them empowerment through their position. Through the variety of signs raised high, it is obvious that the idea of women in office appeals to many.
“I want more women to be represented in Congress [and] the Senate, and I think that right now, the government doesn’t represent all of America, and we need to try and change that,” protester Sara Spaulding said.
Spaulding’s sign displayed a quote from Angela Y. Davis, reading, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, but I change the things I cannot accept.” She explained how women need to be represented in Congress so that issues that directly affect women in America will be addressed equally.
This year, a total of 256 women qualified for the November ballot after winning primary elections, according to a report published by CNN. This number is a record high for women running for office in one year.
“I’m a really big feminist so I think it’s really important that people vote, especially for the right people and get their ideas represented in Congress,” protester Ben Overly said.
While the premise of the event was centralized around voting, many people were also there to advocate for the Feminist movement because of the record breaking amount of women running for office.
“A lot of guys view feminism as a bad thing and I’m one of the very few guys that embrace it, and I’m proud to show other people that a Feminist can be a guy too, and I strongly support the equality and empowerment of women in office,” Overly added.
Many want women in office, but many also seem to want change in general. Public speakers advocated for change in the government to better cater to public schools in Chicago, Planned Parenthood facilities, Union jobs, and Educators.
Planned Parenthood has over 600 health centers opened nationwide (Planned Parenthood), and the majority of the funds that operate these facilities come from the government. Since the election of President Trump, these facilities have been in the news as Congress looks to defund the organization.
Protester Sam Cosmides attended the event with a homemade sign which displayed a picture of recent Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“Everyone who is out to the polls should vote because we need change in our government,” Sam Cosmides said.
Cosmides also explained how the Kavanaugh trial pushed her to protest on Saturday. Frequent protest signs were made in reference to the Kavanaugh hearing, and supporters of the #MeToo movement could be seen everywhere.
Protester Lisa Gilles held a sign that also displayed Kavanaugh with a red ‘X’ over his picture.
“My therapist told me that because of the Kavanaugh nomination, more and more of her patients are afraid to come forward because of the way that his victims were treated,” protester Lisa Gilles said.
She went on to explain her fear for younger generations growing up in America because of the way that the judicial system treats victims of sexual assault. She fears for her daughters and granddaughters in this America, as well as her son and grandsons.
“The Supreme Court ruling is terrifying because this is going to be apart of our lives for the rest of my life and my kids lives, I think it is important that people know that this will affect us for decades and decades to come,” protester Morgan Ransom said.
Ransom graduated from East last spring and is currently studying international business at Loyola.
Last January over 300,000 protesters showed up for the Women’s March, and in the Women’s March to the Polls, the same energy could be felt (Women’s March on Chicago).
“This March, this is just the beginning. Activism doesn’t end here,” Adrienne Lever of Swing Left said.
Register to vote for the upcoming November election by visiting vote.gov.
Kate Peplowski is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl.