This Year’s Women’s March in Eureka Started With One Woman Who Wasn’t Even in Humboldt County at the Time
On December 30, one person who wasn’t actually in Humboldt County at the moment saw that there were no plans in place to have a Woman’s March and she set the ball in motion. A number of other people stepped up to help make the event happen, but Allison Edrington saw a need and started the process of getting a permit and gathering a team that would create a platform for thousands.Edrington who lives in Fortuna told us, “I was in Wyoming on a family vacation when I saw those posts advertising [the Women’s March in Eureka] and also trying to sell t-shirts…” Soon, she realized that page didn’t represent an actual event but was there to sell merchandise. In an effort to find whether a march was happening, Edrington said, “I called the city of Eureka and they said nobody had applied for a permit.”
She began asking around. She told us, “I heard from a lot of folks that wanted to see it happen. So I put in a special event permit application.”
Edrington said she was lucky that she had a solid template to follow. “The Women’s March last year…was really successful and I wanted to repeat it,” she said. Some of the details, including the route the marchers used, changed she explained but “all these women, most of whom I had never met, in this community helped.”
One of the goals of the team that put together this year’s march was to allow a diverse group of people to voice their concerns, said Edrington. “The value that we saw in putting the Women’s March,” she explained, “was bringing together voices in the community–Here are the problems in our community and here are the ways we can move forward,” Edrington said.With the short notice, the March organizers weren’t able to gather all the speakers from different groups they had hoped to have give voice to different concerns. “There are definitely people we would have liked to have included but couldn’t be there because they were already booked,” she explained. Nonetheless, Edrington said there were a number of people speaking about concerns ranging from sexual assault to systematic racism. One of the people who “really fired up the crowd,” Edrington said, was Paula Arrowsmith-Jones, Community Outreach Coordinator from North Coast Rape Crisis Team. Edrington said, “She was very powerful and involved the crowd” in call and response. Edrington said Arrowsmith-Jones would say something like “I want to live in a world where rapists are convicted” and the crowd would yell back “Me, too,” a reference to the phrase actress Alyssa Milano encouraged survivors of all types of sexual crimes to tweet in order to bring awareness to how many people had suffered. Edrington said there were speakers ranging from those sharing the concerns of immigrants who were explaining the need for being a Sanctuary Community to Native people sharing their concerns about the systemic problems that they face. “I heard a lot of support for removing the McKinley statue,” Edrington said. “Personally hearing what these other women in the community are going through was eyeopening, because it is easy to be in a bubble,” she explained. The speakers, the posters of the marchers, and tables set up by various groups included Calls to Action, such as registering to vote, calling or writing representatives frequently, supporting the Healthy California Act–SB 562 which would provide healthcare for all, as well as support for being a sanctuary community.
This year thousands of people marched and were inspired to take a number of political actions. And, the Eureka Women’s March happened in good part because one woman began creating a pathway to protest. And, in twenty days, others, inspired by her effort, set in motion a march that brought thousands of people together to talk about issues that mattered to them.