Native American women singing and drumming lead a women’s march that brought tens of thousands Saturday in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Pres)

Native American women singing and drumming lead a women’s march that brought tens of thousands Saturday in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Pres)

Local women explain why they joined march on Washington

A social worker from Everett rode a bus to Seattle. She worries about the environment and people who are struggling.

A retired doctor who lives in Lake Stevens marched in Washington, D.C. She’s concerned about health care.

An Everett Community College physics instructor flew to the nation’s capital with her daughter and two nieces. She feels they were part of history.

A local woman and her mother marched in California. They wanted their voices heard.

A longtime feminist from Everett braved the Seattle crowds. It was her stand for democracy.

And an Everett yarn shop saw brisk sales — in shades of pink.

The Women’s March on Washington, D.C., and related marches nationwide drew huge numbers Saturday, including more than 100,000 in Seattle. It was an outpouring The New York Times described as “a kind of counterinauguration” after President Donald Trump was sworn in Friday.

“You can’t have a democracy without people being able to speak freely and express themselves,” said Everett’s Lembi Kongas. Semi-retired from a teaching career, she described herself as a feminist since the 1960s.

In city after city, there were seas of pink hats. The marchers weren’t all women, which made a strong impression on Kongas. “There were young families with babies and toddlers, seniors, young people, and men supporting their partners,” she said. “We all have to support each other as part of the human race.”

Word of the marches, which were organized shortly after Election Day, spread through social media. Trump’s critics zeroed in on comments he made during the campaign regarding immigrants and women.

Knitted pink cat-eared hats were worn by women, men and kids at the marches. They were dubbed “pussyhats.” That’s a reference to a raunchy 2005 recording in which Trump spoke of grabbing women, comments he later described as locker-room banter.

Judy Talley, president of the Snohomish County Republican Women’s Club, thinks those who don’t support Trump should have given the new president some time. “Watch and see how he does,” said Talley, who lives in the Mill Creek area. “To have marched at this point, I don’t think people are giving this new president an opportunity.”

For Snohomish County women who marched, the time to speak up is now.

Dr. Katherine Runyon, who retired recently as an Everett Clinic pediatrician, traveled to Washington, D.C., with her husband, Carl Nelson, and friend, Mary Neary. The women row together with North Cascades Crew. For Runyon, 64, access to health care, especially for women and children, was a driving force.

“It was every age, every color, every orientation, with plenty of men and boys. The crowd was energetic, happy and supportive,” Runyon said.

Kristine Washburn, an EvCC physics instructor, took her 7-year-old daughter, Zannie, and two teenage nieces to march in Washington, D.C. The 38-year-old Everett woman advises the Society of Women Engineers Club at the college.

Washburn said she had hoped to see a female president, the ultimate sign that “things were turning around for women and equality.” She told Zannie that someday the women’s march would be in history books.

Everett’s Pamela Seaman is a social worker, an independent behavioral therapist. She contracts with the state. Among her clients are people with disabilities.

Among her biggest concerns are Trump’s views on climate change and his vow to do away with the Affordable Care Act. “Health insurance is a huge issue, it affects me personally,” Seaman said. She also worries about what she sees as Trump’s “lack of concern for people who are struggling, whether they are immigrants, coal miners or teachers.”

She was impressed by the Seattle crowd, which she said clapped and cheered for police. “There were lots of children and families, grandparents, lots of men, people of color, Hispanic people and folks wearing burkas. It really was a representation of the United States,” Seaman said. “I kept getting teary-eyed.”

Karen Newland, of Everett, spent last weekend in Palm Desert, California, with her 73-year-old mother, Dianne Klem, of Marysville. They joined a women’s march in Palm Desert. Newland works in social services. “The Affordable Care Act affects my clients,” said Newland, 51, who also opposes Trump’s Cabinet selections.

Something she saw in the novel “Small Great Things,” by Jodi Picoult, resonated with Newland after the march. She said the book includes this Benjamin Franklin quote: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

At Great Yarns, an Everett shop owned by Fontelle Jones, worker Wendy Gilpin sees the hat craze as ongoing.

“We’ve sold a lot of pink yarn. It started the week before last,” said Gilpin, who now hears customers ask for patterns to knit the hats. On Monday, a woman asked a shop worker if she could knit one of the hats for her daughter.

“It’s just amazing,” Gilpin said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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