Women’s March in Utica Urges Others to Vote

Photo%3A+Bethany+Landis

Photo: Bethany Landis

Bailey Hryb, News Editor

Dozens of women gathered together in downtown Utica last week to march for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and to encourage other minority demographics to vote in the upcoming presidential election. 

The women, and a handful of male participants, marched from Oneida Square with homemade signs to Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute where a number of speakers expressed the importance of exercising the right to vote.

More than 100 participants here in Utica were just a handful of the thousands of demonstrators that marched for equality and representation all over the nation. While social distancing was enforced and masks were mandated, their voices were still heard loud and clear. 

The march was organized by Indivisible Mohawk Valley, the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley, Mohawk Valley Latino Association, union 1199 SEIU and Citizen Action of Central New York. 

“The event was great because it gave people the opportunity to come together visibly in public and declare things that they really believe in including our responsibility to vote as well discussing the issues that are important to us,” said Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Advisor of the Womyn’s Resource Center at Utica College, Alane Varga. “It has also been the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave many women the right to vote, so all of those pieces came together in a really terrific way and gave people the opportunity to do something that was visible and allowed them to come together over issues that were important to them.”

Varga, who was one of many women who marched that day, described the crowd as being “determined,” saying they were there as a group to further amplify their voices and make their message understood.

“Certainly, and for many reasons, people may have come to this event feeling angry or frustrated or disheartened,” Varga said. “But they were mainly there because of their belief in the ability to make change, their belief in the individual to come together and build a coalition, their urge to want to take responsibility for creating the place that they want to live in and their unwavering determination to stay involved and make themselves known.”

This march occurred just over two weeks before Election Day, a day in which the people of this country will decide who will hold the presidential office for the next four years. Weary of history repeating itself, Varga hopes that the social and cultural advancements made in our country continue to take place, regardless of who takes office next.

“I think progress comes in waves and I think that we are currently making progress in many areas through some really difficult times,” Varga said. “We are having conversations and taking action in ways that we haven’t before and I feel like we are inching forward towards better realities. That said, I believe some of our most vulnerable groups, such as LBGTQ+, people of color, women and other marginalized communities, are at risk of having some of this forward movement turn on them and knock them back a few feet. I fear that the things we have taken for granted are going to be challenged, specifically for said groups. However, I remain hopeful that things will continue to advance forward.”

Varga, like the individuals she marched with, urges everyone to get out and vote this election season and is interested to see what new voters will bring to the table.

“I have hope that new voters, like many college students today, will participate,” Varga said. “I feel that the upcoming generations are bringing energy and enthusiasm to our society and will continue to build our world in a way that benefits us all.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3 and early in-person voting is taking place from now until Nov. 1. Early voting locations in Oneida County include the Jorgensen Center at Mohawk Valley Community College, the New Hartford Town Hall and the South Rome Senior Center.