Freezing temperatures did not deter thousands from taking part in Sunday’s Women’s March in Asheville. BPR followed a women’s empowerment club from Western Carolina University as they experienced their first protest. As the Queens of WCU walked up the sidewalk chants of, “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible,” echoed in downtown Asheville.
Erica McCurdy, is a junior and the President of Queens of WCU. The club was founded at the beginning of the school year and is one of the only women’s club on campus, says McCurdy.
This is McCurdy’s first ever protest - a freezing cold morning at Pritchard Park for the Radical Women’s March.
“I think that it’s important to be supportive of all groups and get out there and see where they are coming from,” says McCurdy.
She drove over the mountain from Western Carolina with her vice president Cory Collins, a senior - and junior Amber Greer the club archivist. All three are from Raleigh. Among the speeches they heard was one from a trans-woman who spoke about her work to unionize her work place.
“Our struggle - women’s struggle - working class struggle is the thing that unites us all so we need to organize together to solve every form of oppression that people face under capitalism right now,” says Courtney, who identifies as a transgender woman.
Becca Aubrey drove from Greensboro with her comrades like Brandon Enoch to support the International Socialist Organization. Enoch was the only person of color at the rally.
“There are a lot of critiques about the regular women’s march being too white or not being inclusive enough. So we wanted to join the radical contingent to show that we’re here for trans women, women of color - all women - not just the famous white feminists,” says Aubrey.
Travis Gresham drove from Waynesville alone in her homemade “Handmaid’s Tale” costume to be a part of the March. She says she wore the costume because it was the scariest future she could think of.
“If we don’t stand up then we will continue to be pushed down,” says Gresham, who left her two sons and husband at home.
McCurdy says they are currently reading Margaret Atwood novel in one of her lit classes at Western.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I heard it was a Radical Women’s March. I didn’t really know that there was opposition to the Women’s March but I definitely learned something today that it might not be as inclusive as it sounds like it is,” says McCurdy.
Collins says that hearing from so many different voices reminds her as a white woman that she needs to stand up for all.
“I don’t think that it’s okay that people fight for issues that only relate to them. That really makes me sad and upset,” says Collins.
Those at the Radical Women’s March eventually made their way over to the main Women’s March at Pack Square. Indivisible Asheville helped promoted the main Women’s March. Robyn Lively Summers of the group says that it’s not a bad sign that people at the march have different opinions.
That’s just a symbol of the Democratic Party and of what mainstream America,” says Lively Summers. “We are a lot of different people and we’re going to have differences of opinion. I don’t think that the Women’s March was ever anti-Semitic.”
The Queens of WCU got a spot at the front of the crowd to hear welcome speeches from the march organizers.
Then the march was on. As they walked, McCurdy immediately started to dance to the music blaring from the loud speakers.
“I really like all of this good positive energy. It’s really easy to get lost in what is not and not respect what is, so I really like the positive energy around here and I’m feeling good,” says McCurdy.
Greer, the club archivist, has been filming the whole day on her dad’s Go-Pro. She’s excited to take what they learned back to the university.
“All of the inclusion that we have today is definitely something that we are going to bring back to Western,” says Greer.
The club will be focusing on Western’s MLK Unity Week right now but they want to share what they learned at the march with their members at an upcoming meeting.