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One Year Later, Kansas City Pulls Together Another Women's March

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Jacquie Lenati-Fernandez welcomes the crowd after their 3-mile 'women's march' from Brookside to Unity Southeast church.

One year after the Women's March on Washington swept cities across the world,including Kansas City, Missouri, Randy Fikki's 9-year-old daughter asked him why there wouldn't be a local march this year.

"I didn't have an answer for that," Fikki says.

So, with less than 24 hours to go, he began organizing a march and rally for Saturday afternoon. Around 200 people gathered at Brookside Park for a three-mile march to Unity Southeast church, near Swope Park, where Fikki is an interfaith minister.

Fikki gives his daughter, Bella, all the credit. 

"She feels honored and heard, which is the same thing women have been striving to feel for so many centuries" Fikki says.

Last year, the global protest took place the day after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump last January, intended to advocate for issues beyond just women's rights. The movement came under scrutiny across the world for not being inclusive or intersectional.

Friday, Women's March Inc. put out a statement encouraging those who march this weekend to consider their surroundings: 

"We ask that you look around you when you march this weekend. Think about who is leading. Think about who is not. Notice who is present and who is absent. Think about why. Think about why the presence of police checkpoints will make communities of color feel unwelcome. Think about why the lack of an accessible route, stage or event space will make it difficult or impossible for disabled people to attend."

Jacquie Lenati, one of the organizers of Saturday's event, embraces the scrutiny. 

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
There were fewer pink 'pussy hats' this year, and more signs related to immigrants and DACA.

"It's important to identify marginalized groups within an oppressed group," she says. "So you have indigenous women, women of color, trans, non-binary, queer and non-normative... It's important to reach into the depth of what it means to be a woman, and make sure we include all people."

When Unity Temple Reverend Nhien Dougherty was asked to be a speaker on Saturday, she canceled her other plans.

"I was like, 'Hey! There are no Asians in this gender-oriented thing,'" Dougherty said.

Dougherty came to the United States from Vietnam in 1975 as a political refugee.

"I don't purport to speak on behalf of all of my race, or gender, but to represent a minority and begin to have our voices heard."

Though the crowd this year was a fraction of last year's estimated 5,000, Lenati doesn't feel the momentum has waned. But she says the focus has narrowed.

"This year, we don't march, we run," Lenati said to the crowd when they made it to the church.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Rebecca Tombaugh and her sister attended Saturday's rally.

Rebecca Tombaugh attended the rally Saturday. Before the 2016 election, she says she didn't protest. Now, she volunteers for the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus, getting word out to women to run for office, and supporting women candidates. She also bakes "protest pies." 

"Protest, apple pie, they go together," she laughs. "Very American."

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.

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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