HUDSON — Over 5,000 people gathered in 7th Street Park on Saturday to rally for women’s rights and change.
“I’m marching for my granddaughters,” CeCe Pittman, of Rhinebeck, said. Pittman donned a pink hat, dubbed a “pussy hat” last year at the women’s march in Washington, DC. “I don’t want them to experience all that women have had to in the past.”
Pittman added the march wasn’t just for her granddaughter’s rights, but for human rights in general.
Another member of Pittman’s group, Bernadette Scutaro, of Milan, said she was marching because nothing has changed in the fight for women’s rights. Scutaro and Pittman referenced “The Post” when talking about the predicament women are in now.
“That time period was what, 40 years ago?” Scutaro said. “Nothing has changed. Not LGBTQ rights, not women’s rights. They are all the same today as they were then.”
“The Post” references the struggles female publisher Katharine Graham faced while she was trying to publish the Pentagon Papers in the Washington Post and her struggle to be taken seriously in a male-dominated industry.
Women’s rights were not the only hot topic of the march. Signs of all topics speckled the Hudson sky, including references to U.S. Rep. John Faso (R-19) and President Donald Trump. The signs were accompanied by both pink and black attire — the black attire was in reference to #metoo, the recent Twitter movement where sexual abuse and harrassment victims have been speaking up. The movement has gained worldwide recognition.
“These politicians have no idea what people have to do to make ends meet,” Elaine Trott, of Kingston, said. “They have no idea how hard people struggle.”
Trott continued to say the discriminatory policies the Trump administration has passed – including the government shutdown which she said was in large part due to the failed negotiation over immigration laws and what to do with the so-called Dreamer children – were “sad.”
“How can we move forward when discrimination is being passed in the White House?” Trott asked.
Trott and Scutaro are part of a group that participates in Faso Fridays, they said. Every Friday, during lunch, the group pickets in front of Faso’s office. The representative never comes out to chat, Trott said. Instead, the group is met with honks from supportive passersby.
“Surprisingly, most of the people who honk at us are men in big trucks,” Scutaro said.
Harry Franklin, one of the march’s organizers, emphasized the importance of men being involved in the march and the fight for women’s rights in general.
“We want women to be more involved,” Franklin said. “Women have an innate quality and are attuned to leadership. My life would be better if more women became leaders.”
Franklin added the march becomes a chain reaction; as more women become involved and secure victories in political offices, more feel comfortable to come forward and attempt to do it themselves.
At the tick of 1 p.m., women dressed in handmaid costumes descended into the park and parted the crowd as they moved toward the speaker’s podium. The costumes were referenced the popular Hulu show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is about a dystopian society where women are second class citizens.
The music, which crooned popular tunes like “This Land Is Your Land” and “We Shall Overcome,” stopped as each speaker took the stage for their scheduled speech.
“This country is not in a great place,” Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-106) said. “We are struggling with the same issues that we’ve always struggled with.”
Barrett continued to say the nation has a president who does not believe women have a choice over what happens with their bodies. She proceeded to thank the many Planned Parenthood activists who were present in the audience.
“It’s 2018,” Barrett said. “We’re better than this.”
Barrett spoke of Oprah Winfrey’s promise that a new day is on the horizon.
“Let’s make sure the new day is fair and equitable for all,” Barrett said, adding women should be able to be everywhere without worrying about discrimination.
Cricket Coleman, Columbia County’s first female coroner, also spoke to the overflowing crowd.
“I was at last year’s march in Albany,” Coleman said. “The air was filled with contempt, anger and, what I was most surprised to see, hope.”
Coleman added she was a medical examiner who helped 9/11 crews after the attack and she moved to Columbia County because she needed to see the world blossom.
“We can matter and we do matter,” Coleman said.
Greenport Town Supervisor Kathy Leck Eldridge was one of the last speakers at the park. She was interrupted by applause numerous times as she talked about her campaign in 2017.
“We cannot separate ourselves during this time,” Eldridge said. “We need to collaborate and be proactive, not reactive.”
Eldridge is Greenport’s first female town supervisor; she added that she and her female colleagues ran a campaign based on competence and not on their gender.
“There will always be opposition,” Eldridge reminded the crowd, continuing to tell the audience not to bend in the face of adversity.
At approximately 2 p.m., the marchers assembled on Warren Street and began their trek toward the Basilica for an after-party. The party hosted more speakers, music and food, Franklin said.
“Be good to yourself, your community and stand up for your political views,” speaker Elena Mosley said. “Don’t just come today. Look and see what you can do tomorrow.”
To reach reporter Kaitlin Lembo, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2513, email email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter @kaitlinlembo.