Standing in the middle of Nashville’s Cumberland Park, Gina and her daughter Sarah Hantel held their handmade, carefully crafted signs.
The Brentwood duo were among an estimated 15,000 women who crossed the John Seigenthaler Bridge to the Metro-Davidson County Courthouse on Saturday to express their views about being women in America. A group of nearly 25 Williamson women traveled and carpooled to the march, which was held in parallel to the national march in Washington, D.C. The nearly half a million in the nation’s capitol and worldwide marched not only for women’s rights, but racial equality, health care and immigration rights.
Gina – Sarah’s mother – said she didn’t anticipate having to march for women’s rights in 2017, rights that some fear could go backward in a President Donald Trump administration. The reaction to the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States are related to concerns about possible policies toward women as well as abortion rights, and about recorded remarks that surfaced alluding to him grabbing women by the genitals. Marchers had signs of those calling attention to Trump’s words, with some wearing pink “cat ear” hats.
“I feel like we have stepped back in time,” Gina Hantel said. “I am marching for my daughter, for the future of this country, for the future of women’s rights. I march for so many things that get ignored and taken for granted – like what we do or what we capable of. Legislation gets passed without of a thought of the ramifications to us.”
Sarah Hantel marched by her mother’s side. She said she felt the stereotype of women being lesser than men, even as a high school sophomore at Brentwood High.
“What we say has sometimes more logic,” Sarah Hantel said. “You can’t use muscle to decide something. You have to use your brains as well.”
The march ended with a multitude of speakers giving the marchers options of what they could do after Saturday. Franklin’s Holly McCall, who ran an unsuccessful race last year against Sam Whitson for the Tennessee House District 65 seat – stood in front of the crowd encouraging women to run for any public office. McCall is a board member for Emerge Tennessee, a campaign organization that plans to help women run upcoming elections. All of the women that ran on the Democratic ticket for legislature in the state lost in 2016.
“I am one of those women,” she said, standing on the steps in her campaign shirt. “But now that we have marched, it’s time for run for office. We need progressive women like you and you. We recruit candidates, and we send you out there prepared.”
At the simultaneous march in Washington, D.C., actress and Leiper’s Fork resident Ashley Judd recited a poem written by a 19-year-old college student from Franklin in front of thousands of marchers.
Franklin’s Nina Donovan wrote her spoken word piece following the October presidential debate between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump referred Clinton as a “nasty woman,” and that ignited the Franklin teen.
“It took me a good month to write it,” Donovan said. “An hour before my first performance, I was still working on it. And while I was performing it, Ashley Judd just happened to be there with her friends. She pulled a few of us aside and congratulated us.”
Later, Judd told Donovan she would like to use her piece while marching in D.C. The 19-year-old alumna from Franklin High School agreed. Since Saturday’s recitation, Donovan said she had responses from both supporters of Trump and his critics.
The 19 yr poet from TN who wrote my piece today, “I’m a Nasty Woman,” & I thank you for hearing the message & making it trend. @womensmarch
— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) January 22, 2017
“When I wrote it, it wasn’t to get all this attention,” she said. “It was to spread this message of power and hope, and there’s so much we can do. I was at the Nashville march, and it proved there was so much love. The amount of love triples the amount of hate. It honestly overpowers and overshadows any hate that I’ve gotten.”
The Columbia State Community College sophomore said the attention has given her glimmer into her future. Right now, she’s majoring in sociology and headed to Middle Tennessee State University after she finishes at Columbia State. But, she won’t completely rule out politics.
Please be advised there is explicit language in the video.
“I am thinking about it,” she said. “Maybe I will run for senator. Maybe I will run for something. We will see. I have a lot of time.”