Members of the crowd hoisted signs reading, “Men of quality do not fear equality,” “We need a leader, not a Tweeter” and “Don’t storm on my womanhood,” setting the scene at Saturday’s New Lenox Women’s March.
The weather did not deter a crowd from taking to the streets of New Lenox in a display of solidarity.
“What a testament to how important today is,” march organizer Emily Biegel told the crowd. “It feels like no matter what day it is we schedule something to do there’s always some sort of weather trying to derail our plans, but we are glad that didn’t happen today.”
The march drew one counter protester to demonstrate opposition.
Plans for the demonstration drew support and opposition on social, in part from controversy surrounding the national organization behind the Women’s March and its relationship with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
New Lenox was one Chicago area community to host a Women’s March.
The weather was no issue for Mokena resident Kiera Kuper. She said dancing helped her stay warm.
“In these turbulent times, we wanted to stand together,” Kuper said.
Kuper, who made the trek dressed as a stormtrooper out of the “Star Wars” franchise, said she put some thought into her costume.
“I wore this costume last year in Chicago,” she said, referring to the Chicago Women’s March.
Kuper conceded “Star Wars” stormtroopers are villains but believes they can stand for something good, saying, “I might as well put something I love into something I stand for.”
Congresswoman Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, spoke of gains made by women in the midterm election.
“As you know, Nov. 6, 2018 was a momentous day,” she said. “It showed America and the world the true power of women when we elected a historic 113 women to serve in Congress. This is the most diverse House we have ever had.”
Kelly wants people to remember the effort to elect more women to Congress is not finished.
“This is only the beginning,” she said. “We can’t relax now. We have to keep on working, keep fighting, and keep engaging.”
Another demonstrator, T. J. Jendres of Oak Lawn, said he felt compelled to get involved because the “southwest suburbs of Chicago needs to be recognized as a place of resistance, just like the rest of the Chicagoland area,” he said.
“I had to be here,” he said. “Women, they’re our mothers. None of us would be here without them.”