Thursday, January 26, 2017

Copper Country Sister March participants -- 500 strong -- demonstrate solidarity with Jan. 21 Women's March in D.C. and beyond

By Michele Bourdieu

Nearly 500 Copper Country residents turned out for the Sister March on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21, 2017, in solidarity with the main Women's March in Washington, D.C., and sister marches all over the world. Here marchers line both sides of the bridge and display their signs to oncoming traffic. (Photo © and courtesy Bill Fink Communications, LLC)

HOUGHTON -- Lori Gray and her daughter, Lucy, of Hancock, worked together to create their colorful signs and pink "pussy" hats for the Jan. 21, 2017, Sister March on the Portage Lift Bridge, in solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, D.C., that same day -- brightening the grayness of the cold, wet Keweenaw Saturday.

Lori Gray and daughter, Lucy, display their brightly colored, hand-made signs during the Jan. 21 Sister March on the Portage Lift Bridge. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

Lori Gray said she and Lucy joined the march "to show support for women and other minorities."

The freezing rain on the bridge and cold, damp weather did not deter an estimated 500 or more local concerned citizens -- women, men and children -- from participating in the Sister March.

Participants line up near Bridgeview Park in Houghton for the Jan. 21 Sister March. At 2 p.m. they started up the hill to Shelden Ave. and then walked the length of the bridge to Hancock, with many crossing to the other side. They displayed a variety of signs to traffic heading in both directions.

Leading the marchers as they head up Shelden Avenue are Laura Smyth, left, of Calumet, and Carol Ekstrom of Houghton.

Marchers head from Houghton to Hancock on the Portage Lift Bridge. Most passing drivers honking horns appeared to be supportive, although a few shouted their support for President Donald Trump as they drove by. Click on YouTube icon for larger view. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Many participants learned about the march from an email sent by Susan Burack of Hancock, who was one of several organizers of the event.

Susan Burack, left, of Hancock was one of the organizers of the local Sister March, one of many held on Jan. 21, 2017, not only in the U.S. but in countries around the world.

"I 'instigated' the Sister March, registered it with the Women's March website so we got on the map, spread the word via email, Facebook, and local media," Burack said. "I was amazed at the turnout. Close to 200 people had RSVPed on the website, which was already remarkable. We think there were 500 people on the Bridge -- a couple of people thought 1000!"

One participant who received info on the march from Burack's email and helped spread the word was Faith Morrison, Michigan Tech professor of chemical engineering and associate dean of the Graduate School.

"I really appreciated having an opportunity to gather and express support for the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community, for freedom of religion, for science, truth, and facts, and for civility," Morrison told Keweenaw Now. "It was a very uplifting event, graciously received by the passersby with only a few exceptions."

Despite the inclement weather and somewhat icy sidewalk on the bridge, the mood of the marchers appeared to be upbeat as they continued to line the bridge, eventually on both sides.

Joanne Thomas of Allouez (Keweenaw County) said she noted the estimate of 500 marchers in other local media and felt that was accurate according to the numbers she observed during the march.

Joanne Thomas of Allouez displays a "women power" sign during the Sister March on the Lift Bridge. Behind her is Dr. Jon Neufeld of Portage Health.

Thomas said she participated in the march "because it was the most important thing that I could be doing to confirm women’s advancement -- that  this new administration has threatened. I am grateful to the organizers who arranged this Sister March. It became more relevant and meaningful to millions worldwide than I had realized."

The Minerick family of Houghton was one of many families who marched together on the bridge. Madison Minerick, 10, was proud of the sign she made:

Rob and Adrienne Minerick pause on the bridge for a photo with their children, Madison, 10, and Luke, 6.

"I'd like equal rights when I'm older," Madison said in explanation of her sign.

Her Mom, Adrienne, said the family discussed some of the issues together before coming to the march, such as the fact that women earn 79 cents on a dollar earned by men.

Marlys Bacon of Houghton carried a brightly colored sign that matched her garb:

Marlys Bacon of Houghton displays her sign for passing traffic on the Lift Bridge.

"I don't think women should have to ask men what we can do with our bodies," Bacon said.

Jessica Anderson and her daughter, Aubrey Anderson, of South Range, marched together, displaying their signs.

Jessica Anderson, left, and her daughter, Aubrey Anderson, came from South Range to join the Sister March.

"I'm here because women are the backbone of the country -- any country," Jessica said.

The progress of the country depends on women, she added, because they raise the future leaders.

During the march, more and more participants joined, slowing the pace while marchers at the front of the line crossed U.S. 41 to continue on the other side of the bridge for the return to Houghton.

The Sister March in Houghton on the Portage Lift Bridge slows down at a few points while marchers on one side of the bridge wait for many of those at the head of the march to cross traffic safely to the other side of the street. Eventually participants stood or walked on both sidewalks lining the bridge. In this video clip a few latecomers hurry up an icy hill to join the march.

Pastor Bucky Beach of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton carried a rainbow flag in the march.

"Women's rights are all people's rights," Beach noted. "Women's issues are all people's issues. The rainbow flag represents that we need to stand together, not apart."

Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, carries a rainbow flag representing unity. Pictured with him, from left, are David Hall and his wife, Dana Van Kooy, of Houghton and Ramon Fonkoué of Cameroun, Michigan Tech associate professor of French language and French and Francophone culture and literature.

Keren Tischler of Hancock carried a world flag in the march, reflecting her concern for the planet.

Keren Tischler of Hancock carries a world flag across the Lift Bridge during the march.

"I participated in the Sister March because showing up feels like the right action right now," Tischler said. "I think our planet and its occupants need help bringing voice to matters that involve dignity, respect and stewardship. Seeing both sides of the bridge packed with people made me proud of our community."

Krissy Sundstrom of Houghton and Kayla Cowan of Calumet carried signs supporting women's issues.

Kayla Cowan of Calumet, left, and Krissy Sundstrom of Houghton display their signs of concern for women's issues. In the background, carrying her colorful Kindness sign, is Susan Dlutkowski of Stanton Township. Susan's husband, Dave Harmon, and their two daughters also participated in the march.

"I am here to stand in solidarity with the women and families who are marching in D.C.," Krissy Sundstrom told Keweenaw Now. "This event has been filled with friendship, kindness, and positive energy. It has been a wonderful experience!"

More photos:

More colorful signs of solidarity.

Gloria Melton, retired Michigan Tech dean of students, with her sign.

Grace Parikh, Michigan Tech Ph.D. student in Forestry, is joined by her fiancé, Daniel Jamison, visiting from Duluth. Daniel said he joined the march with Grace "to support the cause."

Displaying brightly colored signs to cheer the cloudy day are, from right, Deb Mann, her daughter Meryl Lucchesi-Freyberg (both of Houghton), and Tiffany Scullion of Tamarack City.

After crossing U.S. 41 in Hancock, marchers return to Houghton on the opposite side of the bridge, displaying their signs to the passing traffic. Cynthia Coté, Copper Country Community Arts Center executive director, in white jacket, is visible in the crowd.

Connie Julien of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and Sons of Norway displays a progressive message about the limited options for women in the 1950s, while Emily Newhouse (not visible here -- see video above) "plays" her Woman Card (a reference to one of Donald Trump's comments on Hillary Clinton).

Her big smile indicates that Renee Bernal of Calumet, center, is happy to be marching.

Another happy participant is Amy Wisti of Hancock, active Democrat and former aide to former First District U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak.

Retired Michigan Tech librarians Janet Dalquist, left, and Ellen Seidel, march together. In the background, all in pink, is Kathy Roberts of Hancock Township.

The march wouldn't be a community event without Nancy, left, and Dianne Sprague of Ripley.

Marchers in Houghton express several concerns with their signs, and the pink "pussy" hats show solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, D.C.

One of the youngest participants gets a ride from Mom.

After the march, Frank Fiala, Fifth and Elm coffee house owner, center, welcomes marchers for hot soup and drinks. Here he chats with former Hancock City Councilman John Slivon and his wife, Ann Pace. Pace, an active Democrat, said she participated in the march "because it was the right (left) thing to do."

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