HELENA – January 21, 2017 was a day that went down in Montana’s history as around 16,000 people packed the Capitol steps to take part in the Women’s March.
A worldwide event, advocating for the idea of women’s rights, human rights and other policy reform, captured millions of people’s attention.
In a state of about one million people, 16,000 participants was historic enough for the Montana Historical Society to preserve protest signs and various event specific hats.
Now, 365 days later, the on year anniversary is here and Montana is hosting rallies and marches again.
“It’s not just a march, it’s a movement,” explained Andy Shirtliff, community organizer for the Rise Together for Democracy event taking place in Helena.
First, a march will start at 11 a.m. taking participants around the Capitol Complex. Then, a rally will begin at noon in the rotunda.
“Hopefully we’re going to engage the type of activism that’s more grassroots,” said Musical Activist Judy Fjell. “What I’d like to see happen is that deep alliances are created.”
The rally’s schedule has six different speakers slated, but Fjell said they aren’t, “Just a bunch of speakers preaching to the choir.”
Down the corridors of the capitol, 26 different groups will be set up with informational booths, “From public schools to public access, to women’s rights to voting rights, and equality and ending racism,” Shirtliff said.
Some of those groups include Immigration Reform, Montana Environmental Information Center, Helena Service for Peace and Justice, and the League of Women Voters of the Helena Area.
Fjell said having these different groups set up will give the public an opportunity to talk to each other and learn more about the issues most important to them.
“It’s that personal contact that actually creates change,” she added.
There are nine different events scheduled across Montana, from Miles City to Browning and the major Montana cities in between, compared to the one large statewide march last year.
Shirtliff said the thought process behind having individual events in the state this year came down to community interaction.
“For people to get more involved to work together, to work in solidarity to empower one another and to take action in your own communities, that’s important,” added Shirtliff.
Fjell said there will be dancers performing peace dances and singing throughout the rally. She encourages everyone to attend Saturday’s events because, “Change doesn’t happen with a pill.”
When: Saturday, January 20, 2018 – March begins at 11 a.m. and Rally begins at 12 p.m.
Where: Montana State Capitol, other events happening around the state