Women’s march in Beaumont doubles expected turnout

Women’s march in Beaumont doubles expected turnout

Southeast Texas women gathered in downtown Beaumont for the local women’s march Jan. 21, joining an estimated 3 million other women across the United States, according to The Hill. Local artist Betty Smith opened her studio at 8 a.m. and provided supplies for participants to make signs.

The march began at 10 a.m. The crowd walked down Calder Avenue east to Fourth Street, across Calder Avenue, west to 11th Street and back to the studio. The organizers led them in two chants: “There are no excuses for human rights abuses!” and a call and response: “What do we want?” “Equality!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”

“This march has been way over the top,” said Shelby Smith, who organized the sister march in Beaumont to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington the same day. “The women’s march went way beyond our expectations, and that put us way over what we were going to do.”

She estimated that over 300 people marched last weekend.

“What Betty counted was 258, and a lot of people didn’t have time to sign in,” she said. “I’m sure we had at least 300.

“We’ve got people that are really positive and ready to do things in a positive way. We are uniting and trying to become indivisible.”

Shelby and Betty, the initial organizers, formed a Facebook group called the Golden Triangle Sisters, intended to continue voicing their concerns as women to local representatives.

But men are invited to join the group as well.

“As far as I’m concerned, this issue is bigger than women; we want everyone. I’m talking about all different colors, all different religions, everyone,” Shelby said. “We want to stay non-partisan, we are issue driven, [focusing on] progressive issues.”

 “The sense I get from our group is that people are interested in taking care of each other and supporting each other in any way that we can,” she said.

Local members of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), National Organization for Women (NOW), PantSuit Republic and the Democratic party all participated in the march, according to Shelby Smith.

“I know there was at least one reverend there,” she said. “I had several people coming from Lake Charles.”

Heather Mullin, a former schoolteacher, said, “It just shows that there is a majority of people in our country who are going to stand up for what they believe [and] all the issues we’re facing right now with discrimination against minorities and people with disabilities, LGBTQIA issues and transgender issues.

“We’re marching for all the issues because they all overlap.”

The Golden Triangle Sisters Facebook group, recently renamed Golden Triangle Indivisible, plans to meet at the Logon Café on Saturday, Feb. 4, for a postcard party, Shelby said. The postcard parties are part of the national Women’s March organization’s plan to take 10 actions in the next 100 days. Postcards will be mailed to Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.