Golden Triangle Women’s March organizing for this weekend

Golden Triangle Women’s March organizing for this weekend

The Women’s March on Washington grew overnight from a Facebook event started by a retired attorney in Hawaii to well over 200,000 attendees and supporters anticipated.

Locally, retired teacher Shelby Smith is leading a sister march in downtown Beaumont on Jan. 21 on the same day. 

“It’s basically a voice for the people. It’s not going to be a protest for just one thing,” Smith said. “It’s to show our solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington.”

Smith explained that the march is focused on raising awareness for social justice, women’s rights, healthcare, the LGBT community, education and the environment. “All of the things most progressive people are interested in are the kind of things this march stands for,” she said.

 Smith began organizing Jan. 12. Initially, she considered going to stay with her niece in Washington or attending the sister march in Denton.

“Then I started thinking about it and realizing how poorly represented the southern part of Texas is, and I thought we need to be represented down here in Beaumont,” she said.

She spread the word with flyers at the MLK parade in Beaumont and another parade in Woodville.

“It’s a place for us to communicate how we feel to our congressmen, that we’re out there and we’re not going to go away,” Smith said. “I’ve been telling everyone this is not a protest, this is not something that is antagonistic. We want to carry our voice and make them louder than the lobbyists and make sure that everyone is counted.”

“There has been so much negativity in the last year that I don’t want to feed into that. This is nonpartisan and bigger than any political figure or politician, this about how we want to look toward our future in a positive way.”

Smith is bringing letters to Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Rep. Randy Weber for attendees to sign. She hopes to hand deliver Weber’s letter to his downtown office on Orleans Street.

Local artist Betty Smith is helping to network for the event.

“Activism has become an increasingly more important aspect of my life,” she said. “I am excited to play a part in this movement.”

“I hope to act as a conduit between the art community and the activist community in our city to bring them together under this common cause.”

Shelby Smith and Betty Smith (no relation) are expecting between 50-100 attendees, based on social media response.

They hope that a coalition will form from this event.

“I’m guessing that this is going to be more than a million women marching in their own cities, which means we’re going to be doing grassroots recruiting,” Shelby said. “I think it’s high time that Beaumont had a voice and that Texas had a voice for the progressives, because we seem to be getting lost.”

The women plan to meet at Betty Smith Creative Works at 2485 Calder St. and make signs between 8 and 10 a.m. The march will begin at 10 a.m.