Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer
Although this weekend’s reported snowstorm did not show up, hundreds of Pittsburgh-area residents did, filling up Downtown streets for the third annual Women’s March on Saturday.
This year’s march, with a theme of “Building Bridges Stronger than Hate,” emphasized local government and community action, with speakers encouraging attendees to participate in upcoming elections — including the April 2 special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Guy Reschenthaler — and fight for local issues, like the rising levels of lead in Pittsburgh’s water and poor air quality in the Mon Valley.
Before the noon rally, marchers gathered at the City-County Building on Grant Street at 11 a.m. to hear local politicians running for office — such as Pam Iovino, who is running in the April 2 election — to discuss the importance of voting and canvassing for local candidates and the significance of marching and protesting.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, City Councilman Corey O’Connor and Congressman Conor Lamb were among the politicians who gave their support for the women’s march by appearing at the pre-march gathering.
While speaking, Fitzgerald denounced anti-Semitism in Pittsburgh and across the country and encouraged the crowd to flip seats in upcoming elections.
“We know what we gotta do in Pennsylvania,” he said.
From there, the attendees marched from Grant St. down Fifth Ave. to Market Square, led by a float of the Statue of Liberty. Marchers carried balloons depicting President Donald Trump as a baby and brandished signs with phrases such as “Love not hate make America great” and “pardon your misogyny.” The crowd briefly sang “We Shall Overcome” and could be seen dancing to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” while lining up.
The march consisted of men and women of all ages and races, and even included a few four-legged friends.
Once in Market Square, speakers from around the community shared messages of resistance, action and unity, saying Pittsburghers must fight for their neighbors of all genders, sexualities, religions and economic classes to enact change.
Among the speakers was Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose II. Her message to the audience was quick, simple and invoked the words of Fred Rogers.
“If you don’t remember anything else that I have said today, just remember this: if we want the people standing next to us and the generation behind us to be better, then we got to be better,” Kenney said.
Summer Lee, the state representative in Pennsylvania’s 34th district, thanked those who stayed at the rally despite the cold.
“That must mean you’re pissed about something,” she said.
However, she said that people should have been pissed sooner and must fight for intersectional causes.
“Why did it take the President threatening cis white women for us to get mad?” Lee asked.
Sarah Hall, an Allison Park resident, attended the march to support the Pittsburgh chapter of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement advocating for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence. She brought her two children — ages eight and five — to set an example of tolerance.
“I want to show my kids that all people are deserving of respect and love,” Hall said.
Although Aislin Connor is only 10, the Ross Township resident said taking action can influence anyone at any age.
“Maybe they’ll be inspired to come the next time it happens,” Connor said.
Divine Kennedy, a 19-year-old Point Park student said that making space and standing up for causes is universal and necessary to creating change, using the 1960s marches as an example.
“The only thing you can do is stay consistent,” she said.