CARBONDALE — For Jennifer Michaels, not hitting the streets of Carbondale for the 2018 Women’s March was never an option — she was going to be there no matter the elements or her personal welfare.
She definitely wasn’t alone Saturday. She was joined by hundreds of women, men, children and a few furry animals. Among several chants throughout the mile-long walk were “power to the People, power to the polls,” and “this is what democracy looks like.”
“Nothing was going to stop me from being out here with my sisters and making sure our voices were heard once again,” Michaels said. “The energy I feel from being around so many people who are energized and passionate about the state of our country is invigorating.”
This year’s march’s was dubbed “March to the Polls,” encouraging all women and their allies to get involved in the 2018 primary and general elections. The march was also a celebration of the 2017 Women's March, which also drew hundreds of people in downtown Carbondale and hundreds of thousands across the country.
The march was one of three marches happening throughout the state as Women’s March Chicago, Action Illinois and Women United Network combined forces Saturday for a statewide Women’s March in Carbondale, Springfield and Chicago.
Liz Hunter, a march organizer, said the march surpassed her expectations and she thinks there may have been more than 1,000 marchers in attendance.
“Today has turned out absolutely amazing,” she said. “The number of people we have seen and the kind of people we have seen here have shown that in Southern Illinois we are together and we are united and we are ready for change this year in the 2018 election.”
She said all of the issues being talked about in society are women’s issues and women should be at the lead of the discussions.
“Women are leaders by nature,” Hunter said. “We lead families and so these issues that we talk about while they are segmented issues such as the environment or racial justice, women are at the core of all of that.”
Kim Evans, of Carbondale, was invited to the event by one of the organizers and was blown away by the participation of the surrounding communities.
“I didn’t what to expect. When I came into the building, I was like ‘Wow,’” she said. “There is so much information and so many people on the same page. If you don’t get it while you are here, it is because you don’t want to.”
Evans, who is African-American, said it was great march with different people and different races.
“I didn’t see color when I was marching,” she said. “I just saw everybody marching and fighting for the same thing — equality.”
Bob Ilties of Cobden serenaded marchers near him with his sousaphone.
“I have it,” he said. “I don’t play it that much and this is good excuse to bring it out and play.”
Ilties marched on Saturday for more than just an excuse to play his instrument.
“The mindset of the people march in this march matches my mindset,” he said. “I really think that women’s rights are important and think we need to get the vote out. I am not happy with the current regime that we have. I’m not even happy with the local representation.
After the march concluded and a few inspirational speakers at the Carbondale Civic Center, several individuals moved down to Hangar 9 for a concert by Loose Gravel, Free Range Chicks, and Honey and Tar.