Politicians Stress Voting Action One Year After Historic Women's March
Thousands of Georgians found their way through the front gates of The Bakery and stood outside in front of a podium on Saturday the 21st, waiting to rally in honor of the anniversary for 2017’s Women's March. This year’s theme, ‘Power To the Polls,’ promoted voter turnout in elections and encouraged people to run for office. Event planners decided on a rally instead of a march to represent a movement forward, stressing the importance on midterm elections and informing the public with plans of action.
We Got The Beat:
Dj Sed “The Saint” kept the crowd feeling upbeat and energized until the event officially kicked off at 12:00 pm. Marisol Estrada, a DACA recipient and DREAMer, spoke first of her experiences traveling as a refuge from Mexico. Estrada explained the disadvantages of applying to colleges and the restrictions from being a DREAMer. "I always sang [American Songs] with pride and I never thought that with all of my hard work, there would be a cap on my potential,” said Estrada.
Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
Fighting for the Future:
Stacey Abrams, candidate for governor and one of many speakers, took the podium to express her reasons of wanting change. She shared an anecdote from high school. As Avondale High School’s valedictorian, she was invited to the governor’s house to honor the state’s valedictorians. But she was initially denied entrance because of her race.“Like the butterfly effect, a small change of events can create the future and so regardless if these political leaders don't take us into account, the future generations will grow up knowing that what is and what isn't in the right,” said sophomore Amarilis Cano-Nava. Abrams plans change things so that no child looks back on a time of honor and only remembers the ‘you do not belong here’. Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
Yes We Can!
“I think these [rallies and marches] are good because people should speak up for themselves,” said freshman Christy Batantou. The knitted pink hats with cat ears and signs with witticisms made their return to show people speaking up without just talking, expressing their beliefs. Those that did speak faced the support of the crowd. The starter speeches began to wrap up around 1:00, finishing off with a few more words of encouragement. "Donald Trump's name may not be on the ballot this year, but here is what is on the ballot: our constitution, our rights, our protection, equality, justice, and our lives," said activist and actress Alyssa Milano, who personally drove people to the polls to vote. Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
Bringing Power to the Polls
Attendees had the opportunity to explore the gated area, to meet and converse with members of Planned Parenthood Southeast, Jon Ossoff, and Stacey Abrams, or to stay by the entertainment center. Various food trucks remained parked near The Bakery, offering time to meet new people and volunteers assisted those not in line with the registration process to vote by texting P2P to RTVOTE. People gave their emails to spokespersons in order to be placed on a list to receive important emails concerning upcoming elections. All of the rallies hope to reach a collective goal of 1 million new registered voters. Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
Sign Me Up
Activists lined up beyond the doors waiting their turn for a chance to sign up and listen to advocates at tables informing them of volunteer opportunities and other ways to stay involved in social justice. Every table inside belongs to a company that financially supported the Power to the Polls rally. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a sponsor’s table, helps protect liberties that all people should be guaranteed by the constitution. Their signup sheets filled up quickly as people agreed to volunteer and take action for this non-profit organization among several others.
Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
More than Baked Goods
The Bakery stands as multi-faceted arts warehouse that focuses on being active in the community, environment, education, and new technology. The Bakery hosts events for music and art events and different community group, but also holds regular programming for activities like yoga. Relatively new, the site offers visual murals along the warehouse’s exterior and contains an art gallery on the inside. Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
In with the Old, in with the New
The turnout for the event, between 4,000 to 8,000 people, didn't near that of those who attended 2017’s Women's March. Although the MARTA did help bring some people, the location’s distance from the city caused an issue with transportation and left many unable to reach it. The site picked for the event stood as an example of a place not yet gentrified, that citizens wanted to keep exactly the same. “I think that the location symbolizes how we do need change but also we should look back on the past because change was happening,” said sophomore Jennifer Bacsa, who attended the event after hearing about it the night before. Less publicity also caused the smaller turnout as people focused more on informing voters of the larger marches in much bigger cities like Las Vegas and New York. Photo By: Sontai-Blu Boyd
The event ended at the same podium with a few closing speeches. “Your vote is your voice,” said civil rights attorney Nora Benavidez, reminding people once again of the power they hold. The recognition of the 100 percent volunteer-based team followed and finished with motivating more people to keep showing up to events.