Wilton residents rally at Women’s Marches

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Wilton residents were among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who participated in Women’s Marches on Saturday, Jan. 20.

The mission of the women-led Women’s March is to “harness the political power of diverse women and their communities” in order to “create transformative social change,” according to the movement’s website.

Wilton residents Joy Eller, Amy Jefferies, Kerry Nicholas, Julie Aquan, and Larkin Brown, as well as a group of 25 organized and led by the Wilton Democratic Town Committee (DTC), were among the more than 200,000 participants in this year’s march in New York City.

“The significance of the march goes beyond politics and even gender,” said DTC member and selectman Deborah McFadden. “It was a demonstration for human rights and American values. It was a statement that we will not be silent when challenged.”

Tom Gunther, a newly elected Democrat on Wilton’s Zoning Board of Appeals who was joined at the march by his wife and daughter, said he was deeply moved by the experience.

“It is inspiring to know that belief in democracy exists and can unite us like this,” he said.

Eller participated in the inaugural Women’s March in Washington, D.C., last year and said it was “more important than ever to march again this year.”

“I was personally inspired by the Time’s Up and MeToo movements, knowing that the stories that we read in the media are just the tip of iceberg,” said Eller, who participated in this year’s New York City march with friends from Wilton and the tri-state area.

“I think there is a communal feeling of just being incredibly fed up with the status quo.”

Eller said this year’s march was about “getting women to vote, getting women to run for elected positions and a promise to keep the fight going.”

“We need to do this for all of our children — not just our daughters,” she said.

Aquan also attended the march in Washington, D.C., last year and said it was “such a great experience to gather with people from all over the country in support of a common cause — standing up for equality and women’s rights.”

“I decided to attend the New York City march this year to be closer to home and to march with my daughter and my husband’s sisters — another great experience,” she said.

“The NYPD couldn’t have been more helpful and the crowd more determined to make a difference. There were people on the sidelines helping anyone register to vote if they needed to. Really makes you feel that all is not lost and America will survive these troubled times.”

Brown, a 2014 Wilton High School graduate and current senior at Fairfield University, decided to participate in the march because she is “very passionate about speaking out for people who do not have a voice.”

“I intern for CIRI (Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants), where I am constantly disheartened by the harsh realities that refugees face in our country,” she said.

Brown attended the march by herself and said she was “a little bit worried” that she would be lonely — but “that was far from the case.”

“I felt empowered walking in a crowd of so many passionate people truly embracing democracy,” she said.

“It was an incredible experience.”

A small group of local Democrats, including Wilton Registrar of Voters and Wilton League of Women Voters member Carole Young-Kleinfeld, attended the sister Women’s March in Hartford on Saturday.

To learn more about the Women’s March, visit womensmarch.com.