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Local Organizers Prepare For Women's March On Washington

Logo with three women cheek against cheek and details about the Women's March on Washington D.C. Jan. 1
Courtesy of Instagram
This is the official logo for the Women's March on Washington which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of women and their supporters to the nation's capital the day after the inauguration.

Voters upset with the election of Donald Trump have been finding ways to direct their anger either through Facebook pages, personal blogs, even filing petitions for local offices.  A big display will come the day after President-elect Trump is sworn in with the Women’s March on Washington, aimed at making sure the new administration knows women's rights are human rights.

The January 21 march had a rocky start with organizers challenged with naming the event and then in trying to get a permit, and a highly visible location.  Critics also challenged organizers to be more inclusive.  One local organizer, Vikkie Cossio  began talking about the march in her office at Illinois State University where she is an administrative assistant in the College of Fine Arts. She quickly found herself coordinating a group trip.

Two women side by side in the WGLT studios.
Credit Courtesy of Instagram
Stacey Hardin formed a group BloNo AMA (Activists Mentoring Activists) & started a GoFundMe page to support the trip. Vikkie Cossio is taking three buses of women and their male allies.

"We wondered if it would all be possible to fill one bus and I think by two weeks we had three buses full and a waiting list," she said.  Why did she respond so quickly? "I march for my children and for mu nieces so they can live in a country that respects all people," she answered.  

Cossio's niece, Ella Casa, 12, of Omaha, NE was with her as she made the journey to the Sacred Stone and the Oceti Sakowen Camps at Standing Rock to deliver locally-collected supplies to protestor of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  "I was also at the Trump Rally [paused] as a protestor!," she added emphatically.

Stacey Hardin is another organizer of a local contingent who will travel by bus for the trek to Washington D.C. for the March. "I've participated in quite a few marches.  I've worked very hard for equal rights and inclusiveness across different spaces." Hardin has formed a group called BloNo AMA (Activists Mentoring Activists) which has a Facebook page and a GoFundMe page. She hopes to raise $12,000 to cover the travel costs for college students, some of whom will be demonstrating for the first time ever.

"We are actually try to help those who are first-time activists who have decided to go along with us.  We're trying to help them and mentor them through this event," Hardin said. "We also have a lot of young activists who are very committed and dedicated to this work and they too will be very good resources."

Hardin suggests among other things, they can provide a simple list of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to civil disobedience and peaceful protest.  Hardin is taking her daughter with her and the bus she's organized also includes a few hotels rooms for a little over $200.  Cossio's group will sleep on Rally Buses at a cost of $168.  She anticipates some who have signed up will drop out in the days leading up to the march and she'll be able to fit in some who are now on a waiting list.

What Will Their Signs Say?

Neither women have yet decided what they'll write on their sign. Cossio says she has been thinking about it for some time. "I can only probably carry one sign on the bus and it will have two sides and although I've played with a lot of ideas I'm not sure what they will be yet because I think those words will be important." She added, "Because words matter. Voices matter."  Hardin says whatever message she sends will and resonates with her and her daughter and she'll make sure it "packs a punch."

There will be sister marches happening in dozens of cities, not just in the United States, but around the world. 

Colleen has spent most of her adult life working the streets and beats of Bloomington-Normal for WJBC-AM where she won numerous reporting awards for hard news, feature writing, and breaking news coverage.
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