The title of the Women’s March on Homer can be misleading. In the third local iteration of the national march movement started in 2016, myriad men and boys (and a few canines) joined in as well.
The Women’s March movement began in late 2016 after a woman in Hawaii posted on Facebook about her concern for the incoming administration under President Donald Trump, and suggested the idea of a march on Washington, D.C. Activists in New York took up the idea and the Women’s March on Washington was born, sprouting numerous affiliate marches all over the country and abroad that were first held the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
Local women in Homer have organized marches as an offshoot of the national movement all three years since 2017. This year, about 500 people attended, according to the group’s Facebook page. This turnout was despite accusations of anti-Semitism that have roiled the national organization this year, and that go back to an early divide among the first Women’s March organizers, according to reporting by the New York Times.
One of the national organizers, Tamika Mallory, has received backlash for attending an event by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He has been widely criticized for making anti-Semitic remarks.
Here in Homer, local organizers said that while the Women’s March on Homer is an official offshoot of the national movement, the affiliation stops there. Organizers said Saturday before the march that the local movement is more about human and women’s rights than it is about politics, and that the local organizers are staying away from the issues being dealt with at the national level.
“There are different factions, but … if you go on their websites, we are all marching for the same thing: inclusivity and diversity,” said organizer Karen Murdock.
This year’s event kicked off with three speakers at the Homer Education and Recreation Parking lot before participants marched down Pioneer Avenue to WKFL Park. Susan Phillips Cushing spoke along with Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Member Kelly Cooper and Reverend Lisa Talbott of Homer United Methodist Church.
Then, it was time to hit the sidewalk. Evan Spencer, 6, had trouble deciding just which sign he wanted to carry during the march. He eventually landed on one that read “equal rights for all,” which he happily showed his father, Rob Johnson of Anchor Point.
“All rights are for all people, men and women included, and I’m proud to bring my sons to a place where they can understand that and learn that all people are equal and deserve full protection under the law,” Johnson said.
Links to YouTube videos of some of Saturday’s speeches can be found on the Women’s March on Homer, Alaska Facebook page.