Nila Horton has never marched for a cause. She hasn’t been active in politics. Yet on Jan. 21, just after Inauguration Day, she plans to stand with thousands in Washington, D.C., to support diversity, equality, women’s rights and a unified nation.
“This has fired me up. It will send a message to those who intend to divide us,” said Horton, 67, a mental health counselor in Everett. Planned in the aftermath of last week’s presidential election, the marches are “a wake-up call for me,” Horton said.
“We have to say we don’t want human rights to be eroded, not on our watch,” said Horton, who went to the meeting in Seattle with her husband, Jim Reidy. They now have tickets to fly to Washington, D.C., the day before the march — although with the inauguration Jan. 20, they have yet to find an affordable hotel room.
The Seattle march is one of dozens planned around the country to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington. According to the Facebook page for the national event, about 98,000 people had posted by Thursday that they were going to the gathering in Washington, D.C., and 193,000 noted their interest.
For Horton, joining a march isn’t intended to be a protest of the election of Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president. “This is not to try to undo the political process,” she said. “This will send a message to those who did intend to divide us.”
She believes the Women’s March on Washington and related events may give people on both sides of the political divide a way to denounce bigotry. “People can differ on policy, but I can’t really grasp that half of our nation would not want civil rights for everyone,” she said.
During his Republican presidential campaign, Trump likened Mexican immigrants to rapists, called for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into the United States and was accused by women of sexual assault.
Troubled by what she called “the tone and tenor” of Trump’s campaign, Horton hopes both sides can come together Jan. 21 and in the months and years to come. The election “stirred up deep emotions,” she said. In her work, Horton said she has seen people affected by the campaign’s bitter nature and the result of the Nov. 8 vote.
“I believe that when any person or party begins to blame the other for the problems that exist, it will only get worse. It cannot be them versus us,” Horton said. She was compelled to get involved after seeing a Facebook post about the march.
Liisa Spink also saw something on Facebook and showed up at Monday’s meeting place, a salon on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Spink, who is 36 and lives in Seattle, is now working with her city to arrange permits for the march. The exact time and place for the Jan. 21 march aren’t set, but Spink said Thursday that organizers hope it will start at the Seattle Center.
“It’s permit-pending. We have to make sure everything gets approved,” Spink said.
Like Horton, Spink said she isn’t particularly political and didn’t actively campaign for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent. She plans to march in a show of solidarity. “Women’s rights are human rights,” Spink said. “Personally, it’s very much about the next step, going forward and showing unity. It is not a protest.”
Paula Goelzer, 39, was also at the Seattle meeting. “I really wanted to attend the march in D.C., but logistically that’s impossible,” she said. The Kirkland woman was encouraged to see more than 40 people, including men, at Monday’s meeting.
“We’re seeing people who are doing their first march, whether they’re 18 or 68. Lots of folks want to be part of it,” Goelzer said. “For me, it’s about seeing our amazing communities so well represented.” During the campaign, she said, “so many were stereotyped or treated unfairly.”
The women said they will march in the spirit of a mission statement shared by organizers of the national gathering: “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
People who voted for Trump are welcome to march in support of that message, Horton said.
“To me, it’s almost an obligation for them to come out — to show that they voted for policy, they didn’t vote for division,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find information about the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., at www.facebook.com/events/2169332969958991/
A Women’s March on Seattle is also planned for Jan. 21. Information: www.facebook.com/events/905054526294975/