More than 100 St. John residents turned out for the Women’s March in Cruz Bay on Saturday, and if the crowd wasn’t as large as at the one held two years ago, it was no less enthusiastic.
“I’m glad we have a supportive community,” said Erin Lieb, who initiated the St. John marches in 2017 and 2019. – “A lot of people helped pull this together. – It’s important that we have a platform for our voice.”
The march was organized as part of a national movement that began in response to the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. – According to the mission statement written by the St. John march organizers, “We stand together with our partners, men, and children for the protection of our rights, our health, and our safety. – We recognize that a vibrant and diverse community is a strength.”
Participants were encouraged to make their own signs, which reflected a range of political, social and economic concerns, including the government shutdown, equal pay, and climate change.
“We’re here for equal rights for everyone,” said Leona Smith, one of the march organizers. – “We’re marching against domestic violence and in favor of equal pay.”
This year’s march saw fewer signs specifically targeting Trump, and some were more personal and heartfelt.
“I march for my mom because she never had a chance. – She died 14 years ago today. – This is for you, Mom!” read a sign carried by Larissa Aumand.
“When my mom grew up, you got married and did whatever you had to do,” she said. – “She was a terrific mother and wife, but things might have been very different for her now.”
Susan Silverman, one of the march organizers, wore a multi-colored “pussy hat” she knitted to represent diversity. – She carried as sign that read, “Believe Christine Ford,” in reference to the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. – David Silverman, her husband, bore a sign that read, “Decolonize now!”
“Self-determination is a challenge for an island that has been under colonialism for three centuries,” he said.
Pam Richards gave the keynote address, covering a range of concerns that were personal, political, and spiritual in nature. – She urged women to support each other as they work to climb the ladder of success, and to avoid a relationship with a man “who does not celebrate your accomplishments as if they were his own.”
She emphasized the increased number of women who won election for public office last year and encouraged women to vote. – Richards also spoke of several of the Ten Commandments that are commonly broken.
“We have some work to do,” she repeated throughout her speech.
During the ceremony preceding the march, Lauren Jones Magnie sang a tender version of “(I Can’t Keep) Quiet,” an anthem of the “Me Too” Movement, and Miss Ingrid uplifted listeners with her version of the Staples Singers’ classic, “I’ll Take You There.”
Students of the Julius E. Sprauve school, under the direction of teacher Anna Fisher, sang the national anthem and the Virgin Islands March.
The Dynamic Dancers, a group of youngsters under the direction of Loraine “Pat’ Richards, performed several numbers. After the march, she thanked the organizers for their invitation to participate.
“The kids had fun, although [they all] did not quite understand the concept,” she said. “But they are our future and will understand one day.”