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Crowd Braves Single-Digit Temperatures For 3rd Annual Women's March Vermont Rally

A large crowd gathered on the lawn in front of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on Saturday for a Women’s March rally. The event was held in solidarity with marches around the country, in cities including Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.

The Montpelier Rally

This is the third annual Women's March — in Montpelier, the 2017 event drew thousands of attendees and last year's event spotlighted youth. The 2019 rally focused on inclusivity.

More than a dozen women gave speeches from the Vermont Statehouse steps, most rallying around the rights of women of color, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and immigrants, among others.

Kiah Morris, a former Bennington state representative, speaks on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse at the 2019 Women's March rally. Team Kiah sides flank her on either side of the podium.
Credit Bayla Metzger / VPR
Kiah Morris, a former Bennington state representative, speaks on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse at the 2019 Women's March rally.

Keynote speaker Kiah Morris, who resigned her position as a Bennington state representative last year after she reported experiencing racial harassment, called on activists and politicians to include marginalized communities in social justice work.

Flanked by “Team Kiah” signs on either side of the podium, Morris called on the words of a priest she knows: "Marginalized peoples are the real Vermonters. We recommit to this state again and again," she said. "Our love is so great, our hope is so real, that we determine that this state is worth fighting for. But we cannot do it alone.”

Despite temperatures in the single digits all morning, people from around the state flocked to the Statehouse lawn with homemade signs.

Two teenagers from Bristol hold up signs at the 2019 Women's March in January. One sign says Thank U Next with a cartoon image of President Trump and the other sign says Make Your Own Damn Sandwich.
Credit Bayla Metzger / VPR
Chessley Jackman, left, and Elizabeth Siminitus of Bristol say attending annual Women's March events has become a tradition.

Chessley Jackman and Elizabeth Siminitus, of Bristol, said attending the Women's March has become tradition, but this year is particularly meaningful. 

“This is the first year we’re both 18 and we’re registered voters," Jackman said. "In the coming election, we really get to make a difference."

Three woman hold signs at the 2019 Women's March
Credit Bayla Metzger / VPR
From left: Nicole Gratton and Hannah Cornelius, from Newport, and Gwen Bailey, from Derby, hold homemade signs at the 2019 Women's March in Montpelier on Saturday.

Gwen Bailey, from Derby, attended the last Women’s March in Washington, D.C., but was unable to get a bus ticket this year. She said the cold in Montpelier couldn't stop her from attending the local event.

“Silence is complicity,” Bailey said. “We can’t just lay at home in bed because it’s cold out because white men are making decisions about our bodies.”

Attendees danced in place and stomped their feet in an effort to stay warm Saturday. The crowd started to thin out after about an hour, but dozens of the most die-hard attendees stayed on the Statehouse steps for more than two hours.

An equality sign in front of the Vermont Statehouse
Credit Bayla Metzger / VPR
A homemade sign remained in front of the Vermont Statehouse, as crowds dwindled nearly two hours into the rally.

Marches Beyond Vermont

In addition to Vermont's capital, a Women's March was held Saturday at the nation's capital. You can find NPR's coverage from this year's Washington, D.C., event here, including more on the controversy among the national march leaders stemming from organizer Tamika Mallory's association with Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

Our fellow New England News Collaborative stations were also covering local marches around the region Saturday.

Portland, Maine:

More from Maine Public — "Mainers Brave The Cold And Address Controversy At The Third Women's March In Portland" [Caitlin Troutman] 

Boston, Massachusetts:

More from WBUR — "This Year's Women's March In Boston Serves As Both A Protest And Victory Lap, Marchers Say" [Quincy Walters]

Hartford, Connecticut:

Bayla joined VPR in 2018 as the producer for Morning Edition. She left in 2019.
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