“Stand up, fight back”: Women’s March takes over downtown San Jose
Women's March San Jose drew thousands to the streets of downtown San Jose (courtesy of Andy Nguyen)

From City Hall to Arena Green, thousands took to the streets of San Jose over the weekend to shout their support for women — in their communities, in America and around the world.  They brought signs, drums, water, food and demands.

Women’s March San Jose drew thousands to the streets of downtown San Jose (courtesy of Andy Nguyen)

The third-annual Women’s March San Jose, organized by nonprofit Women’s March Bay Area, began at East Santa Clara Street and ended at a rally of speakers, activists, performers and vendors.

As they marched, they chanted: “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

Vkhadijah Smith, 57, marched with one of her two daughters “because of who’s in our presidential office.” Like many of those around her in the crowd, she was there to show her heavy disdain for President Donald Trump. She was there for other reasons too.

She chanted “healthcare, not warfare” beside those marching for “Medicare For All.” She  was also there that day in support of the #MeToo movement, because she never wants her daughters to have to say “me too.” Because of that, Smith said her daughters were taught in Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.

“I want my daughters to be able to protect themselves,” she said. “Basically, they can kick ass.”

Ramkumar Sridhan, 40, grew up in India, and knew family members who attended the Sabarimala temple — a Hindu temple in Kerala, India, notoriously known for its barring of women and girls between 10 and 50-years-old.

Women’s March San Jose drew thousands to the streets of downtown San Jose (courtesy of Andy Nguyen)

He held a sign that read, “From Sabarimala to San Jose, Women’s Rights are Human Rights”.

He said he attended the march to stand in solidarity with the women who have been trying to get into the Hindu temple — some who were met with violence and all with local protests — and to engage with other Hindus in the hopes they too would share in the greater inclusion of women into their community.

“I salute these brave women. It’s so dangerous doing what they’re doing,” Sridhan said. “Only by breaking these barriers will we pave the way for the next generation.”

When the marchers ended in the open space at Arena Green, the rally began.

It opened with an indigenous blessing, given by Corina Cihuachimalli Herrera Loera,  from the local Aztec group Calpulli Tonalehque, and her family.

Women’s March San Jose drew thousands to the streets of downtown San Jose (courtesy of Andy Nguyen)

She blessed those in attendance for coming together in “a unified voice to end the violence, sexual exploitation, abuse and oppression of all woman.”

Jenny Higgins Bradanini, president of Women’s March Bay Area, said the theme of this year’s march was “Truth to Power.” She brought attention to major challenges facing women today.

“Our reproductive rights are under attack. Our work is underpaid. The furlough is putting domestic violence survivors and federal employees, who are forced to decide between maybe food or their medication, in grave danger,” she said. “This administration is gambling with the lives of our children. We must elect more women to stop these abuses.”

Throughout the afternoon more women and girls — dozens of them — stood in front and center on the stage. It was their time, so they took it. And they’ll be back to march again.

Contact Kyle Martin at kylebmartin96@gmail.com or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.

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