Women’s voices were heard in Sarasota on Saturday — as they were around the world.
In Sarasota, a stream of thousands of women of all ages, as well as men and children, marched across the Ringling Bridge in solidarity with those attending the Women’s March on Washington to deliver the message that women’s rights are human rights.
Many who drove across the bridge during the march showed their support by honking their horns, waving their hands, displaying pink apparel or even chanting along.
“We are not going back,” Cathy Cornish said. “We just can’t.”
Cornish, a funeral director intern from Englewood, participated along with her sister in her first-ever protest march. She came out on Saturday out of fear that the country’s policies could go backward under the new administration of President Donald Trump, and the rights that so many have gained could be lost.
“My heart is warmed by so many people here,” Cornish said.
She said she was overwhelmed with joy, not only at the crowd, but to see that the media was covering the event, she said.
“I’m just so deeply concerned, more than I’ve ever been,” Cornish said. “I was a kid during Vietnam with Walter Cronkite reading the casualty list every night. But this scares me more.”
The crowd in Sarasota was estimated at 5,000 to 6,000, according to Sarasota police. Officers were posted along the route and rode bicycles or motorcycles to ensure everyone’s safety.
Patricia Tun, a member of Action Together Suncoast, which organized the march, stood at the end of the route and watched as the thousands of people finished their trek across the Ringling Bridge.
“We are marching for everyone in solidarity with women in D.C. and around the world but for men, women, immigrants, people of all colors, backgrounds, sexual orientation and disabilities,” Tun said. “We are all in this together.”
Jeff Vredenburg, 29, was among the many men who hit the streets with women on Saturday, proudly marching side-by-side with his grandmother Mary Bleakley, 75.
“I’m very against what’s going on in American politics right now,” Vredenburg said.
Among his concerns, he said, was the lack of scientific focus on climate change, health care for women and immigration reform.
“The death of the truth,” his grandmother added.
Bleakley expressed concerns about “the media’s voice being shut down.”
Patsy Ernst, 65, of Palmetto, was eager to have her voice heard, and she is no stranger to speaking up, she said.
“I’ve marched. I’ve knocked on doors. I’ve phone banked,” Ernst said. “I’ve done it all.”
Ernst, a nurse in Bradenton, said health care and climate change were the most important issues that concern her.
“It’s all boils down to the health of this country and this world,” Ernst said. “Health care for all and the survival of our planet.”
Sandra Danu, 74, was among the many involved who volunteered to wear safety vests and help keep those marching out of the road.
She pointed out the variety of signs that people were holding.
“There are many issues, but the women started this and they are not ready to give up,” Denu said.
She, like others, is fearful of the Trump administration’s agenda.
“I want to prevent us from going back,” Danu said.