Dorothy Dowe is flying to Washington, D.C., over the presidential inaugural weekend — but not to see the new president sworn in, as she had planned when she bought her plane ticket several months ago. Instead, she will be joining more than 400 women from Greenville and 1,100-plus statewide at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration.
“The night of the Democratic convention when Hillary Clinton was nominated, I told my daughter that I’d buy plane tickets to fly to D.C. and see her inauguration. In my mind, there was no doubt she’d be elected,” Dowe says.
Things didn’t work out the way Dowe had expected, but when she heard about the Women’s March, she decided to not waste her nonrefundable plane fare.
“I’m certainly not going to see the inauguration, but this is a way to do something on that weekend and have a voice,” she says.
An estimated 250,000 to half-million women are expected to show up in the nation’s capital to march on behalf of women’s rights — and all rights, says Hayne Beattie-Gray, a Greenville native who lives in Charleston and is the state organizer for the Women’s March on Washington.
“We have 22 buses leaving Greenville, Columbia, Rock Hill, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach and Charleston,” Beattie-Gray says.
Eight of those buses are starting in Greenville, and they include two buses chartered by a couple of Greenville women and three chartered by the Greenville County Democratic Party. As of Jan. 5, there were about 50 seats still available in Greenville for purchase on one of the buses that would leave late Friday, Jan. 20, and return after the march. Riders would not need to pay for a hotel, but could sleep on the bus. There were a handful of seats still available on a bus trip that would include an overnight stay at a D.C.-area hotel.
The Women’s March event also will include local marches around the world, including marches in downtown Greenville, Clemson and Columbia, also held on Jan. 21.
Called the Women’s March on Washington, the event was designed to hail back to the civil rights’ era’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It’s timed as both a civil rights demonstration for women and a way to show support for a more inclusive nation at a time when many women and minorities say they felt excluded by Donald Trump’s victory.
“People are frustrated and angry at the rhetoric of the Republican candidate’s campaign and the fact that Republicans have not pushed back on this, so they want to make sure our voices are not lost,” says Kate Franch, chair of the Greenville County Democratic Party. The GCDP chartered three buses to go to the Women’s March, and all have sold out.
The march’s organizers say the march is not an anti-Trump rally.
“We want to shed light on issues that are important to us and not participate in fearmongering or demonizing any one person or party,” Beattie-Gray says. “It’s about advocating for the good, rather than raging about what’s bad.”
Some women heading to the nation’s capital say that demonstrating on Jan. 21, one day after the nation has a new president, is a way to bring new energy and forge new connections to the women’s rights movement.
“For me, I felt our country emerged from this election damaged culturally,” says Samantha Wallace, a Greenville business owner who helped to organize two independent chartered buses, each expected to be full for a total of 110 marchers.
“We were set back as a people,” Wallace says. “And I also realized that I was not doing enough to fight visibly, publicly for what I believe in, in terms of upholding principles of diversity, inclusion, civil discourse, and, yes, civil rights.”
Greenville special education aide Anne Garner, who helped Wallace plan the bus trip, says she was reeling after the election and felt she had to do something on behalf of herself and her two daughters. The march seemed to be the right answer.
“We try to raise our two daughters in a way that they think of all people as equal, and I try to live my life that way,” Garner says. “While this is a Women’s March on Washington and is focused on women’s issues, I look at it as an equality march.”
Sons also need to see that women are treated as equals and that women marched to show their concern and make an impact, notes Amanda Scott, who will be driving to the march with a couple of friends.
Scott, who has a 7-month-old son, her first child, said she’s leaving him at home in Greenville with her husband for that weekend. But she has no regrets because she’s marching for his sake, as well as for her own.
“I want my son to know his mother found it to be important to go to the Women’s March on Washington,” Scott says. “We have to fight for the America we believe in.”
Upstate Women’s March activities
- The Women’s March on Washington will meet at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21, at the intersection of Independence Ave. and Third St. SW neat the U.S. Capitol. Attendees will include Gloria Steinem, Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee and Jessica Chastain.
- The Upstate Women’s March on Washington will hold a planning meeting on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2-4 p.m. at Furman University’s Daniel Chapel.
- For those in the Upstate, there are seats available on chartered buses, at $145 per person, leaving Greenville on Jan. 20 and returning after the rally. Those seats can be booked at [email protected]. Bus tickets also are available in Columbia, Charleston, and Hilton Head.
- Also, the Women’s March on Washington group in South Carolina has received funding for a limited number of free bus tickets for any women of color, including African-American, Latino, Asian, and women who are Muslim. To learn more, contact [email protected].
- Kelly Tours has bus seats available, leaving from Columbia, late Friday, Jan. 20, and returning early Sunday morning. Riders will not need to book a hotel room. Bus seats cost $145 per person. For more information, call 800-442-6152.
- The Greenville Goes to Washington group has a few seats available on two chartered buses. Two nights in a hotel must be paid for separately.
- Deadline for all these tickets is Jan. 9.
For those who cannot travel to D.C., the Women’s March on Washington Greenville, S.C., Rally will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, from noon to 2 p.m. at One City Plaza at Main and E. Coffee Streets.
For supporters of the president-elect, there also is a charter bus, called the Trump Train 45, leaving Spartanburg on Jan. 19 and returning Jan. 21 for people attending the presidential inauguration. The bus will hold 56 people and there still are seats available at a cost of $90 per person, says James Polivka, event coordinator.