BEMIDJI-For the third year in a row, dozens of people gathered for the Bemidji Women's March on Saturday in collaboration with a nationwide movement that came together after the 2016 election.
Although labeled the "Women's March," the event covered a variety of issues, ranging from LGBTQ equality to immigration to environmental stewardship to gender equality.
"Here we are again, stronger and more determined than ever before," Pam Lemm said to the crowd of marchers right before hitting the street. "We march for the children and the families at the border; we march for victims of physical and sexual assault; we march for Jayme Closs; we march for truth and integrity in law enforcement; we march to support women's rights; we march because it's the right thing to do."
The group of marchers, which was estimated at more than 100, made its way from BSU's Beaux Arts Ballroom down to the Paul and Babe statues. They then marched back to campus, totaling about 2 miles in the sub-zero weather.
The marchers held a small gathering upon their return to campus. It included a skit about the history of voting rights in America, music, as well as speeches by Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht and keynote speaker Pat Broker.
Broker spoke about how much has been accomplished in the few short years since the Women's March began.
For example, she pointed to the fact that following the recent midterm election, there are more than 100 women serving in the U.S. Congress. She also referenced the recent election of Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who comes from the White Earth band of Ojibwe, and Judge Anne McKeig, who is the first Native American woman to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Like its first year in 2017, the Bemidji march was only one of many across the state and nation. Several hundred marchers reportedly gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol.
In spite of the progress she referenced, Broker said they haven't accomplished all they intend to yet.
"I'm really paying tribute to women who are taking the lead in this resistance movement, and I'm paying tribute to the Indigenous people of our country-and, really, the world-who I believe are taking the lead on our environmental issues," Broker said. "We also need to stay vigilant. This is just the beginning; there's a lot of work ahead."