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Thousands Turn Out For Women's Rally In Kansas City

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
A large crowd filled Washington Square Park Saturday afternoon for Kansas City's Women's March.

On Saturday afternoon, the day after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, thousands gathered in Washington Square Park for the Women's March on Washington in Kansas City

The park at Pershing Road and Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri, was a sea of pink hats and colorful handmade signs with messages like "The future is nasty," "Mind your own uterus," and "Diversity is strength."

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Ann McDonough, upper right, and her friends came dressed in their 'pussy hats,' pink and knitted - or in McDonough's case, hot pink and fuzzy - beanies that became a symbol of solidarity in the Women's Marches spanning the globe.

The local rally was one of many "sister marches" that took place on Saturday, throughout the United States and around the world, in coordination with the Women's March on Washington in Washington D.C. 

Busloads of Kansas City area residents also traveled to Washington D.C. for the main event, which welcomed crowds exceeding 500,000.

Making a surprise appearance, Kansas City Mayor Sly James addressed the crowd first, calling for Kansas Citians to unite.

“We need to stop worrying about Trump’s character,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s up there, what matters is who we are right here, and what we are going to do.”


Mayor James also shared some Marine Corps battlefield strategy: improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Councilwoman Jolie Justus took the stage Saturday to address LGBTQIA rights.

“If we act together, march together, stay together, we will overcome,” he said.


Over 20 speakers took the stage, addressing a wide range of issues — from reproductive rights and sexual assault, to religious freedom and gun violence — effectively emphasizing why the rally was about more than women and women’s rights.


UMKC professor of mechanical engineering and transgender woman Una Nowling was one such speaker.


Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
'This for me is a queer resistance,' says S.E. Nash, holding a last-minute sign at Saturday's rally. After moving to Kansas City from New York City last fall, Nash, who identifies as queer, felt pleasantly surprised by the overall willingness of the crowd to attend and 'stand up for all of us.'

“The experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming persons is of vital importance to women’s rights,” Nowling said, “because our very existence calls attention to and emphasizes the gender inequalities at every level of our society.”


Overall, the rally was inclusive, which could explain why the crowd was so large. Before the event, organizers were hoping for 3,000. But, in a Facebook post praising both law enforcement officials and attendees for a peaceful rally, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte estimated a crowd of more than 5,000.

Organizer Kristin Wing was overwhelmed by the support.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
The only counter-protest took place behind the stage on Pershing Road, where four people stood with anti-abortion signs. Women's March attendees crowded around to block the posters, displaying images of aborted fetuses.


“I think there's a gift from Donald Trump, and I think you saw it today,” Wing said.

The crowd thinned toward the edges of the park, where people were coming and going throughout the two-hour rally.


A woman named Talia, who didn’t want to share her last name, stood alone in the back. A conservative Christian, Talia said she's always voted Republican. That is, until the 2016 presidential election.


Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
For the 2016 presidential election, for the first time ever, Talia did not vote Republican. She's a conservative Christian, but she says the behavior of now President Donald Trump sparked her 'paradigm shift.'

"I had to question: What am I conserving? And why am I conserving it? Am I for life or am I just anti-abortion," she said. "And I discovered that I am for life. That the right of the mother’s life is just as important as the unborn life she is carrying.”

Talia said she almost didn't come to the rally, but her husband offered to drive her, even though he doesn't share her views.


"He wants me to have a voice even if it's slightly different than his,” she said. “Even if my voice is slightly different from the hundreds of other voices that are here — it’s powerful to be here, even if I’m standing alone.”

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @adtudhope, or reach her by email at andreat@kcur.org.

KCUR's Laura Spencer contributed to this report. 

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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