Meet the voices of the Women’s March on Denver

We’ve been at the Women’s March on Denver all day. Here are some of the people who wanted to make their voices heard at the march.
8 min. read
Keelie Sorel attends the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

We've been at the Women's March on Denver all day -- see more video and images here. Here are some of the people who wanted to make their voices heard at the march.

Maria Sykes, of Denver, attends the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (Stephanie Snyder/Denverite)

Maria Sykes
Age: 22
Residence: Denver
Job: Denver Urban Matters, a local nonprofit

Maria Sykes, 22, said she was participating in the Women’s March on Denver Saturday morning not only to voice her personal concerns as a woman of color, but also for the people that she works with through her job at nonprofit Denver Urban Matters who are living below the poverty line.

“To know that my clients are being affected alongside of me… that’s an equalizing factor that we are all in this country and in one way or another we may be affected by the changes that come with this new president,” she said.

Sykes said she hoped to take away a sense that “we’re all fighting together,” whether it be for her father who uses a wheelchair, her brother who struggles with addiction or fellow immigrants.

“It’s hard even though I have a passport and I’ve been naturalized,” she said. “It’s still definitely a fear of mine that this new president doesn’t believe in my right to be here.”

Julie Haverluk (left) and Mary Bruning, of Colorado Springs, participate in the Women's March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (Stephanie Snyder/Denverite)

Mary Bruning
Age: 66
Residence: Colorado Springs
Job: Retired

The last time Mary Bruning, 66, participated in a demonstration similar to the Women’s March on Denver was over four decades ago at a march protesting the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. in 1970.

Bruning said her motivations for participating in Saturday’s march were similar and rooted in feeling “alarmed on every level about the rhetoric around the new president” — from education and the environment to people with disabilities and minorities.

“I just really felt after such an emotional election cycle and such a difficult campaign season that I personally really just needed to be with some people whose energy supported mine,” she said. “It’s really important going forward that people who may hold a different opinion about the (new) agenda that their voice still be heard.”

Leon Harden and Sam Kramer, of Denver, attend the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (Stephanie Snyder/Denverite)

Leon Harden and Sam Kramer
Ages: 34 and 30
Residences: Denver
Jobs: Recruiter for a tech company and affordable housing industry employee

Eight years ago, Leon Harden, 34, was in Washington, D.C. watching the inauguration of the nation’s first black president. Yesterday, he said he couldn’t even watch the swearing in of President Donald Trump.

“I cried twice,” he said. “I just felt bleak, violated. I felt embarrassed for the country.”

Harden and his friend, Sam Kramer, said they were attending Saturday’s march to support both women’s rights and gay rights.

“We’re appalled by the president’s actions and statements,” Kramer said. “It’s just a powerful day to see all of the resistance and unity among all of these people,” he added.

Both said they plan on taking more personal steps to being active in local politics and volunteering in marginalized communities.

“You have to make your local better so that the nation can get better,” Harden said.

Aylene and Chris McCallum, with their children Colbie, 2 and Caden, 4, attend the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Chris and Aylene McCallum, with their children Colbie, 2, and Caden, 4
Ages: 39 (both)
Residence: Denver
Jobs: Kaiser Permanente systems analyst and director of downtown environment for the Downtown Denver Partnership

As parents of young children, Chris and Aylene McCallum said it was important to attend the Women’s March on Denver as a family — not only to show support for women’s rights, but to show their son and daughter that “if you see something that’s wrong, speak up,” Chris said.

“We watch the news with them and we talk to them about the issues and it may sound silly — they’re 4 and 2 — but it doesn’t matter, they’re starting to learn and understand,” Chris said. “As long as you take care of the people… that’s the larger piece that we want them to learn about.”

Keelie Sorel attends the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Keelie Sorel
Age: 26
Residence: Doha, Qatar
Job: Assistant director of student affairs at Northwestern University in Qatar

When Keelie Sorel booked her flight from Qatar — where she’s been living for the last six months — to Denver to visit her family, she was hoping to land on Jan. 20 and be back in the United States just in time for the inauguration of the country’s first female president.

“That didn’t happen,” she said. “The alternative is uniting in shared understandings and ideologies about what America should be.”

It was tough being in a foreign country on Election Day, Sorel added.

“I felt like I was so removed from everything. I felt like I couldn’t really act,” she said. “A group of my colleagues and I have come up with a once-a-month meeting where we’re going to act from afar and unite over our shared passions and see what we can do… from where we are.”

Standley Lake High School students (left to right) Makena Howard, Egan Walker, L.T. Cheatham and Breauna (last name declined) attend the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

L.T. Cheatham
Age: 15
Residence: Denver
Job: Sophomore at Standley Lake High School

L.T. Cheatham attended the Women’s March with three fellow members of Standley Lake High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, which he has been active in over the last two years.

His advice to other young people who aren’t able to exercise their right to vote quite yet: “Get active and involve yourself in your community. It’s important. Every voice matters.”

Sunit Gill (second from right) attends the Women’s March on Denver with her family and neighbors on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Sunit Gill
Age: 43
Residence: Denver
Job: Pediatrician

“We really wanted to bring our kids out to understand our First Amendment rights and to see what democracy in action truly looks like,” said Sunit Gill, who attended the march with her husband, 10-year-old daughter, 13-year-old son, and their next-door neighbors.

It's important “to have them realize that if things don’t go the way that we want that it’s our right to stand up and stand for what we believe in,” she added.

While Gill said Saturday’s large turn-out was “really uplifting,” she said that her role as a pediatrician and the ongoing narrative around repealing the Affordable Care Act remains concerning.

“American citizens have a right to affordable healthcare, and while Obamacare hasn’t been perfect, it was a step in the right direction,” she said. “I’m very worried that I’m going to have several families who will lose access to healthcare.”

Sandy Petersen attends the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Sandy Petersen
Age: 66
Residence: Conifer, Colorado
Job: Early education consultant

Since Donald Trump was elected president, Sandy Petersen said her feelings of “fear and sorrow” prompted her to start a new chapter of Organizing for Action, which has grown to 130 people in two weeks, in the unincorporated community of Conifer, Colorado,

“I’ve come to have a basic fear for our system of law and checks and balances, and that overrides my fear about specific programs that I’ve worked in all of my life,” said Petersen, adding that she worked as a government-contracted employee for federal early education policy for 20 years.

Emerson Plantilla, 13, and her father, Socrates Plantilla, 39, attend the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Emerson Plantilla
Age: 13
Residence: Parker, Colorado
Job: Student at Sierra Middle School

While 13-year-old Emerson Plantilla and her father, Socrates, attended the Women’s March on Denver, her mother was sending her photos from the other side of the country at the Women’s March on Washington.

“My mom’s a feminist and I just thought it would be cool to come out and support women’s rights,” Plantilla said. “We’re here because we wanted to support her and all of the causes that are happening today.”

Adrien Schless-Meier attends the Women’s March on Denver on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Adrien Schless-Meier
Age: 26
Residence: Denver
Job: Freelance writer and editor

“We’re not afraid and we won’t back down without a fight,” said Adrien Schless-Meier, who attended Saturday’s march with her mother and friends.

“It’s heartening for me to see this many people here, and my hope is that collective action gets sustained well after this,” she said. Donald Trump “is dangerous and unhinged and poses a threat to our democracy and the people that live here — particularly people of color, people in the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims… I hope that people feel like they’re not alone.”

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