Inside the march: Participants, protesters voice concerns

"Forward, together. Not one step back!" Participants chant while waiting to march in the Women's March on Asheville. Photo by Kari Barrows

Saturday morning in downtown Asheville was cloudy and calm. As 10 a.m. rolled around, pedestrians with signs began slowly flooding the sidewalks. By 11 a.m., these signs filled Pack Square. The sea of colorful rhetoric represented the hopes and fears of participants joining the Women’s March on Asheville. Organizers of the march claim a total attendance of around 10,000 participants.

Described as a Sister March to the Women’s March on Washington, Asheville’s march encompassed many concerns, issues and themes related to the current political climate. One woman participating in the march, 88-year-old Mary-Lou Hunley, voiced her support and reasons for marching.

“In my time, ‘queen bees’ didn’t necessarily help other women,” Hunley, said. “I’m very much for women helping women.” A resident of Givens Estates Retirement Community, Hunley said she originally grew up in South Carolina, then moved to North Carolina when she became “progressive.” She claimed to be a late-bloomer when it came to the women’s movement.

“I didn’t get into it until I was 35 because I had a very good, supportive family, so I really wasn’t aware that women were neglected until I saw things out in the job world,” Hunley said.

88-year-old Mary-Lou Hunley says she was a late-comer to the Women’s Movement, but now proudly holds up her signs in support. Photo by Kari Barrows


Like Hunley, many other participants said they had very personal reasons for marching. Idania Garcia, a social worker from Burnsville, said she feared for what will happen to public services.

“Our new president-elect is going to set us back decades,” Garcia said. “He is threatening to get rid of too many services that affect the community widely.” Her main concerns involved the potential dismantling of the Affordable Care Act and how that will affect those who are insured by the program. She said the march is to get a point across.

Burnsville social worker Idania Garcia proudly shows her sign with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Photo by Kari Barrows

“Those of us that were not heard as the majority voters for this election are now being heard in a different way,” Garcia said. “It’s not only being heard here in the United States, it’s worldwide.”

As the crowd grew, chants of, “Forward, together. Not one step back,” could be heard among the multitude of eager marchers. But before the march started, speakers from the community brought messages of hope and empowerment, love and civil disobedience. Buncombe County Commissioner Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara urged the crowd to empathize with one another’s struggles and promised to continue fighting for equal rights.

“We will resist with our bodies, we will resist with our words, we will organize, we will march in the streets,” Rev. Beach-Ferrara said.

IMG_7663 IMG_7625 IMG_7645 IMG_7664 IMG_7709

Finally, as the last words were spoken, the increasingly restless crowd began to spill out slowly onto North Market Street. Chants of “Love trumps hate,” and “Judge less, care more,” could be heard among marchers. Police officers stood by blocked off intersections to ensure marchers moved along the route safely and were met with several “thank you’s” from participants. Business owners stood outside to cheer on the crowd while couples, younger and older, held hands and signs together.

“I’m out here to support these women,” Jim Waters, a retired teacher from Burnsville said while he marched with his wife.” “I think women have really taken a hit in this election, and it’s time to stand up.”



While the marchers moved along their downtown route, a small group of protesters stood quietly on the corner of South Market Street with signs. One man, John Stephenson, a retired carpenter from Asheville, said he was there for ethical reasons. “I’m here particularly to oppose the notion that Planned Parenthood is a helpful outlet,” Stephenson said. “They could be if they wanted to, if they wanted to just attend to women’s health issues, but it’s the providing of abortion that is of course the problem, not the other services they perform.”

Stephenson said he, along with his group of friends, wanted to let marchers know their opposition was based on ethical fundamentals.

A small group of people stand outside the march holding pro-life signs. Photo by Kari Barrows

“All human life deserves respect and if the very minimum respect you can show human beings is not to kill them, then that’s a good threshold,” Stephenson said. “You don’t have to like other people, or want to adopt children, or want to do all these other things, but just don’t kill living human beings. That’s pretty much a fundamental, basic aspect of any notion of ethics of any religion or any ethical organization.”

The peaceful clash of beliefs and ideals came to an end around 1:30 p.m., just before rain began to fall. But before the rain could end everything, marchers held an impromptu dance party in Pack Square, moving to music celebrating women’s empowerment.

A dance party closed out the Saturday afternoon march. Photo by Kari Barrows

Smaller, more quiet chants could be heard scattered around downtown. “Forward, together. Not one step back,”


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93 thoughts on “Inside the march: Participants, protesters voice concerns

      • Well, that explains one continent. Nevertheless, after long and hard reflection, I think I get it now:

        “There was something truly impressive about the sheer scale of the crowds, the enormous number of women and men, filling the streets of Washington in a noisy bubbling ribbon of pink and placards.

        But it is an army lacking a common purpose. Lacking a common cause. Every one of them wielding a placard for a different grudge they bear. Many unable to give a coherent reason for being there. Most at odds with the placards they carried. Many cross a woman didn’t win.

        But simply being a woman is not enough.

        This was a march defined by gender, not purpose – much like Clinton’s campaign. And a march where the meaningless drivel of the speakers was matched by the lack of a clear aim of those marching.”

        • Huhsure

          Texas Tim thinks people can only unify around a single message. That’s orange cheeto sad.

          • It’s not surprising that you did not notice that the author of the brilliant piece I posted is British correspondent Katie Hopkins. That’s progressive sad.

          • luther blissett

            Katie Hopkins has built her reputation on being a terrible person who says terrible things.

          • Huhsure

            I did, Texas Tim. I also noticed that you endorsed it: “I think I get it now.”

            Orange cheeto has a sad. Do better.

        • Jasper

          Ever heard of Unity in Diversity? You’ll probably be hearing a lot more about it in the next weeks and months…and years.

        • Rene'R

          Actually, it was defined by a common purpose…wait for it… human rights, equal rights, civil rights, which are all wrapped into one. I was there with my daughters. It was a wonderful unifying experience. They both read what they would be marching for before they decided to go. If you read the website you would have seen it wasn’t just women’s rights, that way you wouldn’t of had to take the energy to be misinformed and criticize. Unity. That is one of the things this country is supposed to be about. We are just trying to help bring things full circle so we can move forward in a common sense way, not backward, as unfortunately, seems to be happening. Many of the issues of concern are issues that the current administration places in jeopardy. The current administration needs to be constantly reminded politically what civil and human rights they are stepping on for political gain. If you don’t agree now, I would hope in the coming months you will agree when you are shocked to your socks what other civil liberties you voted against when you voted for him. All because you didn’t like Hilary. As an educated African American woman, who is paid less than my male counterparts, who believes everyone has right to make their own decisions regarding their body, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation (whether I agree with the choice or not). I am a mother of two boys who I have to worry about them staying low so as not to accidently be put into a bad life altering situation. A mother of two girls who I’m try to raise in a nonjudgmental, safe, smart way, who by the way, have peer circles that are very diverse in any and every way you could think of. Teaching them how to stand when no one else will or stand when the other person can’t. Oh, and so you won’t play these cards: I’m sister to brothers and sisters in the military and a sister to a police officer who I pray for everyday to be safe. See we marched for that to. Safety for our communities and safety for those who try to make it safe. Because yes all lives do in fact matter. I work in with those patients, families, children in the health care community that have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, which is far from perfect but helps more people then the past options. Yes, those were the people who try to decide if they would eat or buy their medications or partake in life saving treatments. Because We Marched For You to. Every issue we marched for affects ALL of us whether you believe and accept that or not. See Timothy, it wasn’t just the few issues you had to justify to yourself for mark that bubble for Trump. O hey! I forgot the right to vote at least for women and minorities. The men already had that one. I hope everyone has a blessed day. :)

    • Hey, y’all, you can save your collective progressive breath:

      New York Times: Leftist billionaire George Soros has ties to more than 50 ‘partners’ of the so-called Women’s March.

      • The Real World

        Yes, because you can count on that!

        Did you know that Soros’ own home country, Hungary, recently announced it is shutting down his “non-profit” organizations in their country? Macedonia announced the same. And Russia was ahead of the curve a few years ago by booting his arse, his money and his nefarious operatives. He is 100% bad news.

        • luther blissett

          Hungary’s run by a far-right government that has pushed through sweeping constitutional changes, fired judges and closed newspapers. You do know that, yes? Ah, probably you don’t, because you have your own set of alternative facts.

      • Peter Robbins

        I recall hearing both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump deny certain unproven allegations of appalling misconduct. But I don’t recall hearing Clinton brag about how he could commit the offense whenever he wanted with impunity because he was a star.

        • Peter Robbins

          The interviewer should have added the confession detail to make the parallel more exact. Why do you suppose she didn’t?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            No, I’m serious. There’s a whole world out there that you just don’t understand. Yet you think you do.

        • Peter Robbins

          I mean, it’s one thing for a guy to say that he didn’t do something terrible to those twelve women at those twelve times, and another to say those twelve women aren’t any of the ones I ever did it to, even though I admitted before that I do it to women I don’t know all the time. Don’t you think?

    • tom williams

      Tim Peck- I would think that as a propagandist, you would understand the show of force. That is why you and President Trump are so concerned about numbers. In your case, I understand. You are paid to say what others think , sorta like a paid troll. You are not even a local and the causes that you have supported locally have not turned out the way that your bosses planned. Now you continue to support a mentally imbalanced man in the White House. The longer that you continue to support President Trump without question, it is a reflection on your judgement of human character.

      • Notice that there is no answer, only flailing ‘ad hominen’.

        Is this kind of intellectual poverty emblematic of progressives? I have heard stories.

        • Huhsure

          Maybe next time you should read, instead of going straight to the audiobook.

          • Oh, look, more personal insults. I thought that wasn’t allowed, Tracy Rose. I love these unmoderated forums. They always turn towards the topic of me.

            You progressives are completely incapable of carrying on a conversation. LOL.

          • Huhsure

            Tim Peck, you were a public figure in Asheville, when you ran for City Council. You got what? ~400 votes?

            You then moved to Texas, but you continue to participate in this and other North Carolina website forums, calling into question if you are getting paid to post in these forums, and if so by whom.

            Being a public figure, your participation in these forums, and your characterization of goings on in NC and Asheville, are fair game.

  1. Lulz

    LOL, all human life deserves respect but if you’re a trailer trash white guy, die! That’s what you protest.

  2. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    From the pictures it looks like the Asheville protest was benign compared to the one in DC, which became downright vulgar at times. I couldn’t resist posting this funny excerpt from a less than flattering review of that march

    “Feminism has to be better than this. Better than posters telling me your vag.ina is tough. Or ‘this grabs back’. So what? Mine can stash a 24 oz can of Coors Light. Sideways.”

    • Lulz

      Sort of makes you want the 20 trillion to catch up merely to see the fools get a real dose of equality.

  3. Big Al

    Let me preface my remarks by saying that I voted for Clinton and that nothing Trump has said or done changes my opinion that the Republicans were conned into giving the party away to a megalomaniac amateur who will only cause this country great pain.

    But I am also more than mildly amused at the absolute PANIC that has consumed the Left since election night: hold those you love closer, find safe spaces, etc. You would think that there are legions of storm troopers poised to kick in door s and haul undesirables away to Gitmo or Arizona tent prisons. This is especially true of the LGBTQ community, which confuses me as I have heard nothing from Trump on LGBTQ issues or rights, and he sure did rub a lot or Hollywood shoulders, many of them gay, at his elaborate parties in years past. Maybe Mike Pence would be a threat if we were more than VP, but even so case law on these issues was determined before this administration arrived and aside from a modest increase in vandalism and bloggerhea, what has really changed?

    The worst I have heard from Trump are his private misogynistic comments, which should be no surprise given his trading up on wives the way most of us do with cars, but really, what do any of those comments have to do with what he could do with domestic policy regarding women? Again, case law trumps Trumpism.

    In short, while I find the whole thing entertaining, it is both wasted time and effort, because it will achieve little or nothing, and it address a threat that I just don’t see clear or present.

    But hey, go at each other if it makes you fell good (which is the only real value I see in these protests. Trumpist America and the Feminist Left are like two packs of clowns in a VW bug fighting over a steering wheel while the engine is off. Both funny and sad.

    • MuddyW

      He has stated publicly that he wants to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint supreme court judges that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Those are just two issues that are really important to women. The Republicans, who now hold both congress and the house, are behind him on this. Better I think to speak up now than wait to see what he succeeds in doing.

      • Big Al

        The key words being “..wants to..”.

        If you want in one hand and poop in the other, which one fills up first?

        Trump’s promises were smoke to begin with, I just find it silly that the Left takes him as seriously as the Right when both should see through the smoke. In both cases, I suppose some people feel empowered by playing the victim, which I find pathetic.

        • Edison Carter

          You haven’t read or listened to the news over the past 72 hour news cycle; have you? Wake up, and get out of bed.

    • Phil Williams

      Mr. Al, I sometimes do not agree with you on certain issues – but you hit the nail on the head with this one….I wish both sides could for a moment stow the hyperbole and just hear themselves. Just like many conservatives were convinced that President Obama was going to repeal the 2nd amendment, and send the fundamentalists off to re-education camps, now many progressives are convinced that President Trump is fixing to dye his hair black and grow a toothbrush moustache and start rounding up “undesireables”.

    • The Real World

      Big Al – you’ve described it well. Reread your post and you’ll likely see the over-arching issue. At some point in the last 10 -12 years, the Democrat party got taken over by extremists. (I do not remember such brain-hijacked sheep in the Bill Clinton era and he was far more rational than current-day Dem leaders.)

      From the radical ideology of Obama, to the extremely sick and deep-pocketed international wrecking ball George Soros, to the polished but also radical and breathtakingly immoral HRC…..that party has been taken over by crazies. The Democratic elite have played their acolytes into servitude. Liberalism in the 21st century is a religion and it’s clear there is an environment within where the followers cannot speak against their prophets AND they buy and parrot everything their “leaders” are selling. It’s quite shocking and is utterly how a religion operates. Look at all the protesters who couldn’t articulate why they were there. Hello? (FYI, Soros money and organizations are connected to the protesting on both days).

      Here’s what I’m interested in and have been pondering it for several days — what does the Democrat party stand for in this era? What is their platform? I truly don’t know and suspect that’s why they’ve turned so radical…….because their platform is thin. So, they’ve just become loud, nasty and incessantly accusatory to make it appear there is some substance. I welcome any sincere descriptions of what the Democrat platform consists of in 2017. Btw, keeping an eye on the Repubs and making sure they don’t go too far is valid so, other than that, what else?

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        “what does the Democrat party stand for in this era? What is their platform? ”

        They stand for the progressive (ie, incremental) deconstruction of the traditional established order. That’s it. Their whole game is to cobble together various disparate and unrelated groups through identity politics (they’re evil, we’re not) that focuses on letting them know how oppressed and offended they are.

        • The Real World

          I’m hoping to hear from some Democrats but to go with this idea for a second, “They stand for the progressive deconstruction of the traditional established order.” — and then what? For what purpose?

          (My instinct tells me they’ll be moving toward a Bernie theme. The continued big money grab. Taking more from working people to redistribute to others thereby creating more dependency and ensuring a continuation of their voting bloc [also known as vote buying]. While , of course, skimming a healthy amount for themselves and their buddies. See: Tom Steyer for a classic example.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            “and then what? For what purpose?”

            Political power

        • Deplorable Infidel

          perfect summation of the democrat party today. ‘the democrat plantation is on fire’ was a recent quote I saw.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        “It’s quite shocking and is utterly how a religion operates. ”

        And a proof of this is that none of them have uttered a peep in protest against the war-monger Obama, who is the first US president to have bombed other peoples every day for his entire 8-year time in office.

        • Edison Carter

          Oh so now you are a peace activist? Thanks for another laugh: What’s next? The figures for Trump’s inauguration were Huuuuge than what pictures and facts demonstrated to the entire world??

          • The Real World

            Really … old are you, Edison? Because you’ve been consistently channeling about 16 yrs old since showing up here a week ago to add absolutely nothing to this website except talking smack.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            I get the feeling that he’s definitely older than 16, but inwardly, a perpetual adolescent.

          • The Real World

            “a perpetual adolescent” — Seems to be a primary prerequisite for membership of that party! Most who’ve grown up have moved on from it.

  4. bsummers

    Even Faux News has to admit that President Trump is a liar on Day One.

    You talk about honesty. You say this is about honesty. But there’s another issue here though, Reince, and that is the president’s honest. Two things he said yesterday were just flat wrong,” Wallace said.

    Trump’s not a liar, says KellyAnne Conway – he’s just got “alternative facts”.

    Who you gonna believe? Me or your lyin’ eyes?
    Richard Pryor

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      I’m sure that Trump counted every one of those in attendance, and then lied about it. From his perspective on the podium, there is a very different view than what is shown in the aerial photo (by Reuters, I think) of the crowd in the mall. From behind above Trump’s head, it looks like the entire mall is filled all of the way to the Washington monument.

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          Actually, Spicer was sent primarily to rebuke the press for their lie that Martin Luther King’s bust was removed from the Oval Office. The attendance thing was secondary, but the lying press likes to make it look like it was Trump’s foremost concern.

        • The Real World

          1) Who CARES about the crowd size?
          2) Why is the lamestream media so juvenile and petty to mention it in the first place? (Oh, that’s rhetorical, isn’t it?)
          3) How can so many ‘professional’ people get duped so easily? Meaning, do you think they might question the time stamps of each? It is intentionally false to compare 2 photos with different time stamps. Apparently, the Trump photo was taken at 11:04 while the Obama image was at 11:30, closer to ceremony time. The media are liars.
          4) But, again, who CARES about the crowd size?

          Here’s a good snippet from the Weekly Standard link: More people showed up to watch Obama. Also—news flash—more people voted for Obama.

          But here’s the thing: None of that matters. Obama was a terrible president who shepherded the American economy through a weak-kneed recovery, increased partisan divisions, diminished America’s presence abroad, abandoned our allies, and emboldened our foes. He trapped his party inside a flaming wreckage so terrible that it enabled Donald Trump to get elected president.

          Crowd size does not matter. At all. It is not correlative with any conceivable marker of presidential success.

          • bsummers

            1) Who CARES about the crowd size?

            That’s the point. The answer is: Donald Trump. The “media” didn’t make this an issue, he did, by going off about the size of his “crowd”, in a speech in front of the frikkin’ CIA “Wall of Heroes”. 1.5 million people Donald? Really?

            He’s a lying, angry baby.

          • Peter Robbins

            As one of the signs in the march said, White Lies Matter.

          • The Real World

            No, the point is that the media, yet again, put forth a false premise and you’re continuing it. I saw the CIA speech, he said, “it LOOKED like 1.5 million people out there”. Please think. No one counted the people. And the lying media presented images of different time periods and they will continue with this garbage.

            So, the Trump administration is going to beat down the corrupt media like they deserve to be. Should they have not jumped on the media about the intentionally false report about MLK’s bust being removed? See, this is what I mean about acolytes programmed not speak against the agenda or it’s prophets. It’s a choice you know. You can be your own person.

            More importantly, what is the Democrat platform in the 21st century, please? I’m not interested in a link but, viewpoints.

          • “1) Who CARES about the crowd size?”

            Progressives are obsessed with the size of their crowds. That’s why they brought this matter up in the first case.

            High-definition interactive photo of President Trump’s inauguration:

          • Peter Robbins

            Cool. The CNN photo is completely consistent with the aerial shots that show Obama drew a bigger crowd than Trump. But the aerial shots are better because they show what the crowds looked like on the Lincoln Memorial side on the Mall.

  5. The Real World

    Cute, Peter. But, I’m not going to read your links.

    It is very telling that neither you, Summers or anyone else is willing to articulate what the Democrat party stands for? I am assuming that you don’t actually know and are waiting for a message from the next prophet in the party to tell you what to think. Sad!

    • Peter Robbins

      There’s the whole platform right there. Why do you need me to summarize it?

  6. luther blissett

    Obviously, the March for Women has triggered all of the half-dozen cranky old white dudes who’ve taken over the MX comments in recent months.

  7. Tracy Rose

    These comment threads got off track almost from the start. Please return to discussing the original post about the Women’s March in Asheville, and refrain from personal attacks. BTW, here are our terms of service:
    See the part about The Golden Rule under “Commenting & Twitter Policy.” Thanks.

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