WOMEN STAND UP FOR THEIR RIGHTS IN KINGMAN
Story and Photos by AARON RICCA
A group of women (and a few men) discuss their efforts to fight conservative attacks on women’s rights at Locomotive Park Sunday. A small group of Trump supporters looked on and added their opinions.
The Mohave County Women’s Rally was part of a nationwide movement to make the public aware of inequality regarding women’s issues that include wage gaps and reproductive rights.
KINGMAN – Amidst heated stances on women’s rights across the country this weekend, roughly 20 women (and a few men) made their way to Locomotive Park Sunday to make a stand for equality.
The Mohave County Women’s Rally was part of a nationwide movement to make the public aware of inequality regarding women’s issues that include wage gaps and reproductive rights. The march was also about standing up to sexism, racism and most of all, political partisan bickering.
“The purpose of this local march is to resist divisiveness,” said rally organizer and former Arizona Legislature candidate J’aime Morgaine.
That divisiveness could be found across the country this weekend as both the anti-abortion March for Life rally took place in Washington D.C. and countered by nationwide rallies (including Phoenix and Kingman) supporting women’s rights that include reproductive rights and an overall resistance to the Trump presidency.
Mohave County participation small but visible and political activism in Mohave County is getting busier each year.
The 74th Annual Mohave County Republican Picnic before the mid-term elections last July attracted almost every major Arizona favorite Republican incumbent and candidate (Governor Doug Ducey as well as former Maricopa County Sheriff and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio to name a few) short of President Donald Trump himself.
The Mohave County Democrats along with other activist groups have organized gatherings and political rallies within the last year on addressing gun violence, immigration and education.
The March for our Lives rally at the Mohave County Courthouse last March got heated at moments. Yelling from gun proponents was constant and shoves were exchanged between activists.
A discussion on racism was held at Trinity Episcopal Church after the July 22 episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who is America” dealt nasty blows to the town by painting residents as racists. Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People spoke publicly. Two teens flying a large Confederate Flag on the back of their truck made an appearance but decided not to speak.
Morgaine said the goal of Sunday’s rally wasn’t to push one side, but to bring people together to have an intelligent discussion.
“This is about pink hats and red caps marching side by side,” she said, referring to the pink ‘pussy’ hats that have come to symbolize the women’s movement against conservative policies aimed at restricting reproductive rights and pay equality and red MAGA hats worn by Trump supporters.
“There are national and state marches for the larger national issues. Our local March will be structured to focus on local women’s issues, rather than the divisive national agenda,” Morgaine said. “Both sides resist joining in unity when they view each other as political oppositional forces. That may work well in Washington, but it does nothing to help us address our local issues.”
A few Trump supporters made their way the park to attempt to balance the discussion.
Andrew Whitaker, of Kingman, was aware of nationwide rallies and along with his wife and sister-in-law, had seen a post on The Bee’s Facebook page Sunday and decided to drop in.
“I didn’t know they had a Kingman rally,” he said. “I wanted to see if the Kingman group was as crazy as the rest of them. I went down for the laughs.”
He also said he expected more people and even incivility. None of that became a reality.
“I went down for the debate,” he said. “I surprised there’s no Antifa here. I was worried about fights.”
Whitaker wasn’t aware of some of the other political events that have happened in the last year but would be willing to attend future debates.
“I’m always up for debate as long as it’s peaceful,” he said. “If you can provide evidence, you can change my mind.”
Whitaker and the Women’s group talked for a few minutes. Despite a few tense moments over the legitimacy of what each side was claiming, hugs were given, hands were shaken, and all went home peacefully.
Mary McCord Robinson, also a former Arizona legislature candidate, was at the rally and spoke about advancing the Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment proposed in 1972 that would add protections for women that include employment, property and reproductive rights. As of 2018, 35 have ratified the amendment. Arizona is not one of those states.
“Women need to get more involved to make this happen,” said Robinson, also the Equal Means Equal Representative for Mohave County. “And this is still going on, even though we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of our right to vote this year.”
Robinson was talking about the 19th Amendment which was passed by congress in 1919 and granted women the right to vote as of 1920.
Mayor Jen Miles was aware of the march but couldn’t attend due to previous engagements.
“I thank the men and women who have been marching because they are seeking equitable and just political solutions,” she said. “We want civility reflected in all our causes we appreciate that took place.”
Sunday’s rally wasn’t intended to be a major event, but more of a test run for future activities. Morgaine tried to organize a “resist the divisive agenda” women’s march last year but received pushback from conservative and progressive stakeholders.
“Next year’s rally will focus on specific women’s issues and have speakers from all sides speaking,” she said. “It will be an issue-driven rally, not agenda-driven.”
For more information on the Equal Means Equal movement, visit www.equalmeansequal.org.