By ELLEN LOUCKS
With a powdery dusting of snow on the ground and temperatures dipping below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, hundreds of feminist activists squeezed into the Great Hall of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs. Despite the bleak weather and last-minute change of venue, the atmosphere within the church was lively and filled with the buzz of anticipatory conversation.
On Sunday, Colorado Springs held its second annual Womxn’s March. The event was titled, “Me, Too: The Womxn’s Rally in Colorado Springs.” As stated by the Facebook event, the march urged participators to “join locally in solidarity with national and international Women’s Marches! Last year we made history with the largest march held in the city … [This march] recognizes the violence that such populations, especially trans womxn of color, experience in our society.” Organizers included (but were not limited to) Colorado Springs Feminists, Unite Colorado Springs, Citizens for Hope CS, and Colorado Springs Dems.
It is important to note that organizers chose to use the term “womxn” as opposed to “women.” According to staff reporter Asia Key of The Standard, “womxn” is simply one of many alternative spellings of “women.” Other variations are “womyn,” “womban,” “wimmin” and “femme.” These spellings disregard the “biblical concept that women are simply subsets of men.” Identifying oneself as a “womxn” allows a feminine-identifying individual to personalize their title and is therefore more inclusive.
Upon entering the church, attendees of the march were greeted by enthusiastic fellow activists. One such activist was Riley, a representative from Planned Parenthood dressed in a pink Planned Parenthood t-shirt and black pants, encouraging attendees to add their signatures to a sheet titled, “I stand with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.” Furthermore, numerous political representatives from Colorado Springs urged attendees to register to vote.
Prior to the march, attendees listened to “call-to-action” messages delivered by three keynote speakers. Ashley Cornelius, a Colorado Springs poet who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in international disaster psychology at Denver University, was the first keynote speaker to take the stage. She delivered a powerful spoken word performance titled “Things I Wish Boys Would Stop Doing,” which pressed women to cease allowing others’ words to define their identity.
Next to speak was Dwanna Robertson (Mvskoke), a Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies professor at Colorado College, who courageously shared a heartbreaking history of how she had been sexually harassed. Robertson stated that regardless of her past, she celebrates herself. The blood of thousands of her ancestors flows through her, and their preparation in creating her modern identity strengthens her to boldly speak the truth. The conclusion of Robertson’s speech was met with shattering applause and a standing ovation. Several audience members even raised their fists in approval.
Lastly, Nico Wilkinson CC class of ’16, host of monthly open mic “Keep Colorado Springs Queer,” and 2015 Grand Slam Champion of Colorado Springs, delivered a message cautioning women to recognize signs of abuse and to remain strong in the face of discouragement.
After the speakers dismounted the stage, CC students Bridget Galaty ‘21, Mary Bach ‘21, and Ely Merenstein ’21, who were preparing to participate in the subsequent march, stopped to share their passionate approval of the feminist movement. They bore signs proclaiming “re-sister,” “intersectional feminism,” and “super girls.” Galaty and Bach agreed that it was important to support the Colorado Springs community by speaking out against hate and allowing everyone’s voice to be respected. With this, Merenstein continued, “Our presence here makes these chances stronger.”
As hundreds of local feminists trooped through the streets of Colorado Springs, it was evident that the spirit of solidarity was aflame despite frosty temperatures.