PHILADELPHIA -   Last week two buses left Matamoras with people eager to express their sentiments about President Trump and current governmental matters during the Women’s March in Philadelphia.
A founding member of the Pike County Democratic Club, Ed Gragert said taking part in the day was “so important” because the current political events cannot “become the norm.” He explained that, members of the Scranton Action Together NEPA and Individuals Poconos People of Stroudsburg united for the march, because values of equality, women’s rights, racism and more in the United States are “apathetic to the values” of the current presidential administration.
Oppressing people and keeping them from the “political process,” leaving only a few to decide “warped values” should not become “American values,” said Gragert. Being vocal while not discriminating against others, and informing children about world issues needs to happen, instead of building walls, Gragert believes. Making it seem as though others are “less valuable, particularly persons of colors” is “offensive” and “counterproductive” to what is needed in the United States, he said. 

Born in South America, Pia Caro came to the United States when she was 8-years-old with the perception that being an American was “aspirational” as she hoped to one day become a citizen in the “greatest country” she said. But, such feelings changed with the election of Trump, which was a “slap in the face” because the thoughts of American’s “tolerance and friendliness” were “a lie.” It was because of her participation in the Women’s March however; that Caro said her disappointment was overshadowed since she became “inspired” by the people still willing to fight.
A founding member of the Women’s March on Philadelphia, Emily Cooper Morse told the crowd of men, women and children that filled the streets as far as the eye could see, that anyone who has experienced harassment, assault or rape are “not alone” because “we believe you and are here for you.” By uniting, it shows the world that women are “strong” and do not give up because they will “not be silenced.” Yet, by coming together, Cooper Morse hopes elected officials are being held “accountable” and “together we are powerful.”
A CEO of Evolved Solutions and a Commissioner on Governor Wolf’s Pennsylvania Commission for Women, Salima Suswell told the crowd who cheered often, but also listened intently that joining together a year later, is a reminder to the world that women “will not be silenced.”
The first woman City Controller of Philadelphia, Rebecca Rhynhart said Trump’s election was a “horrible disappointment” and so, she decided to run for the position and won. By doing something, that shows that when women “resist and persist, we rise.”  But, women “must be bold and we must be brave” because together “we must stand up and fight.”
An immigrant from Sri Lanka, a small island off the coast of India, Radhika Ubhayaratne was at the march with her 12-year-old daughter Kiyaasha. Since Trump took office, Radhika said her background has been questioned more than ever before. The mother and daughter participated in the day to “support women of all races” said Kiyaasha.
Seated above all others, 6-year-old Claria Bruneau sat in a tree with her father Emile watching the march occur below. Claria’s mother Stephanie said the day was a chance to “stand together and raise our voices in this time” because democracy needs to be embraced. As a 6-years-old living in Philadelphia, Stephanie said her daughter is learning to read and while she made signs on her own, they’ve discussed the “importance of raising voices” for what they believe in, which can “lead to change.”
Christa Caceres of Bushkill said she decided to participate because women have been “angry long enough” and the march was a time to act. Caceres hopes women will be inspired to vote because she feels the upcoming election is more important than that of 2020 and so, a message needs to be sent to Trump and the GOP majority that “we will be heard.”
After the rally, on the bus back to Matamoros, Jean Beilman said she and Kathy Oldfields attended the march because they were “politically angry” that Trump is “destroying our country.” Having such marches, Beilman believes gets women “more involved in the democratic process” because before last year, she wasn’t “politically active” since she “took democracy for granted” and voted for the candidate she thought would be best.     
Of the day’s participants, Sequoia Medley and Sara Wachter-Boettcher were the only two who shared adverse opinions of the march. Because there were groups who embodied the “ideals” that didn’t seem “represented by this movement,” Medley questioned “how white” the movement was. The day was instead an “easy entryway” for people to participate, which meant there was an “exclusion” of people who have done “racial and social justice work” before. She called the Women’s March on Philadelphia a “family friendly entry-level sort of political statement” which was problematic because it didn’t reflect the “diversity of Philadelphia.”
With two more years of the Trump administration still ahead, Gragert of the Pike County Democratic Club said members will continue to work on local elections, by having candidates for state assembly seats speak. For more information about the Pike County Democratic Club search Facebook or visit