For the second annual Statesboro Women’s March, organizers are bringing the event downtown to places where votes count and are counted, in keeping with the national theme “Power to the Polls.”
Participants will gather at the Bulloch County Annex, 113 North Main St., at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, and march to the courthouse for a rally on the courthouse lawn at 2:30, said Jill Johns, who is slated to be master of ceremonies.
“We want to be starting at the annex building, which is predominantly where a lot of the voting takes place … and then ending on the courthouse lawn is obvious, because the decisions that get made through the voting process will show up in our courts and our City Hall,” Johns said.
Last year’s local Women’s March, planned in less than a week, started at Sweetheart Circle and followed the Pedestrium to the Russell Union Rotunda, all on the Georgia Southern University campus.
Suzanne Hallman, Ivory Watts, Suzanne Shurling and Johns were the lead organizers in January 2017 and remain active this year. But the planning responsibilities are now shared among a committee with about 15 members.
Besides five or six speakers, three or four poets and a few musicians will be heard. Multiple generations, including a poet in fifth grade and a speaker of a high school age, several presenters of collegiate or “millennial” age, and a few older people will take part in the program, Johns said.
Johns, a breast cancer survivor and advocate, also speaks from this perspective and said one of the causes she marches for is having women receive the same level of care regardless of insurance. Adrienne McCollar, wife of Statesboro’s new mayor, Jonathan McCollar, is another of the scheduled speakers.
Last year, Women’s Marches around the nation occurred the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. This led to assumptions by news organizations that the marches, including the local one, were anti-Trump rallies, Johns said. But then, as now, local organizers said that was not the intent.
“The country is divided enough the way that it is right now, and we’d rather have the dialogue and the conversation and invite people regardless of their political party to come and listen to the speakers and the poets just so they can understand the perspective of where people are coming from,” Johns said.
Another committee member, local Unitarian Universalist minister Jane Page, emailed that the 2018 march will not be “anti-anything, except oppression, inequality, etc.”
“No candidates for any political office will be speaking,” Page wrote. “Our speakers will be community members sharing ways we can contribute more positively to a more beloved community.”
But it is a demonstration, so there will be signs and chants, these committee members acknowledged.
“The Women’s March has overall guiding principles that are basically women’s rights, human rights, civil engagement, ensuring immigration rights, LGBTQIA rights, what politically tends to lean a little bit more to the left, but quite honestly they should be all humans’ rights,” Johns said.
“Everyone, regardless of political party, should be interested in women’s rights and equal pay and the future for our sisters, our daughters and ensuring that they’ve got an equal voice at the table,” she said.
On Facebook, the march has a public group, “Women’s March — Statesboro,” which had 867 members as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. It has a GoFundMe page with the same name.
Nationally, the main Power to the Polls event is being held in Las Vegas, also on Sunday, and marchers will be held in various cities Saturday and Sunday.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.