'Our time is now': Second Bemidji Women’s March focuses on getting involved in government
BEMIDJI—A movement that began a year ago by activists in Bemidji—and across the world—continued Saturday, with the 2018 Bemidji Women's March.
Not only was this year's march about making the community more equal, though, it was also about inspiring new leaders for tomorrow.
"Our main goal is to get people to vote and to get new people to run for office," said Pam Lemm, event organizer. "That's the goal of the Women's March today here and around the world."
Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht, who spoke at BSU after the 2.5 mile trek from the Sanford Center, echoed those comments.
"We know that we are marching to come together, share our stories, show solidarity for one another and imagine what we can do and what we will do to be leaders in our community. My wish is to increase the number of elected female leaders," Albrecht said. "To get more women elected, we need to get more people like you involved."
Other speakers at the event included MN350 staff member Nancy Beaulieu, Bena business owner Arnold Dahl, former Cass Lake mayor and Leech Lake Tribal College Arts and Humanities Chair Elaine Flemming, BSU Nursing Department Associate Professor Mary Fairbanks and retired Leech Lake Behavioral Health social worker Lila George.
Along with inspiring others to be more politically active, Lemm said Saturday's march was also about focusing on issues such as access to education and employment, support for families, civil rights and developing healthy and sustainable environments.
"We've got several representatives from different organizations who have tables set up for the end of the march," Lemm said. "We'll have breakout sessions when the speakers are done so people can meet with environmental groups, Indivisible Bemidji and other women's rights groups. People can join those and find out how they can pitch in and become more involved."
"We need to lift one another up and get people engaged in our communities," Albrecht said. "We think maybe next time we can have a woman governor, or next time we can have a woman president. I say, the future is now, our time is now."
March organizers said about 500 people took part in the Bemidji event, and they were joined by hundreds of thousands across the country, with news outlets in various major cities showing crowded streets filled with marchers. Lemm said she was pleased by the number of participants getting involved at the local level.
"I am so amazed at all the people in this area who are like-minded, (who) I didn't know before last year's march" Lemm said. "I've met so many people who feel the same way I do about creating equality for everyone."