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March and rally at UNM mark Women’s Day

Mirroring similar rallies around the country, and mostly wearing red, about 150 people gathered to march through the University of New Mexico campus Wednesday evening in honor of International Women’s Day.

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Bob Kuning, left, of Albuquerque and Gerri Warner, center, of Albuquerque hold signs the during the Mass March and Rally on International Women’s Day at the University of New Mexico Wednesday. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The march and rally began at the campus bookstore and participants listened to several speakers before marching through the western half of campus chanting in support of women, immigrant and minority rights. The group traveled north to Lomas NE before looping back south on University, as cars honked their support or dissent.

James Friedman, an organizer with the Albuquerque branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said the group put out a call for the rally in order to voice their support for women, the LGTBQ communities, and other disenfranchised people.

He said the party is opposed to Donald Trump’s presidency but it would have held the rally regardless of who was elected president.

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“We will still be in the streets year after year until we see equality for women, transgender women, and the LGTBQ community,” Friedman said.

The event on UNM’s campus is just one of many rallies and marches throughout the country held to commemorate International Women’s Day. Women’s rights activists also called a national strike, A Day Without a Woman.

Organizers suggested that those who wanted to strike could do so by taking the day off from paid or unpaid labor, avoid shopping except for at businesses owned by women and other minorities, and wearing red.

Vicky Lester and her daughter Andrea Young joined the march after a full day of following those guidelines.

Lester said she closed her business, Eternal Youth Medical Spa, early Wednesday in honor of the strike. And she and Young made sure to have lunch at a women-owned business.

Wearing red, they joined the march across campus, falling into step with a new friend, Gerri Warner.

The women said they all joined the march, and similar previous events, in opposition to the current presidential administration.

Lester said she joined the day’s events in order to speak in support of rights for her daughters, and granddaughters, as well as women all over the country and the world.

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“I think it’s really critical right now for all of us to step up and stand together,” Lester said. “If we don’t, all the things we’ve worked for will just take 10 steps back.”

The strike and rally come a month and a half after millions of people worldwide took to the streets for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration.

Thousands of women, men and children showed their solidarity for that event by gathering at Civic Plaza for the Women’s March in Albuquerque.

Lester said they attended the Women’s March as well as a protest against Trump’s immigration plan in late February. She said these events give her hope for the future.

“Tonight I’ll leave and feel hope, and right now we need all the hope and faith we can get,” Lester said. “I owe it to my daughter and my three granddaughters. It’s so important that they all know they can do all the things they want in life.”

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