Sunday, January 28, 2018

Nearly 500 Copper Country residents march across Lift Bridge in anniversary Sister March: videos, photos

By Michele Bourdieu

An estimated 400-500 participants in the Jan. 21, 2018, Copper Country Sister March cross the Portage Lift Bridge carrying signs about their concerns, from voting power to women's rights as human rights to DACA and immigration -- and more. The theme of this year's women's marches -- held in many U.S. cities -- was "Power to the Polls." (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- Despite a very icy sidewalk on the Portage Lift Bridge, a large crowd of women, men and children walked from Houghton across the bridge to Hancock and back on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, to demonstrate, for the second year in a row, their solidarity with Sister Marches held across the country -- on the anniversary of the Sister Marches held a year ago in solidarity with the huge 2017 Women's March on Washington, DC. This year the many signs carried in the march reflected continued concerns for women's rights and equality for all, with an added theme of "Power to the Polls," encouraging women to vote.

As she did last year, Susan Burack of Hancock again instigated the Sister March in Houghton by signing up with the national march. This year the Women's March: Power to the Polls, began with a large rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 21, kicking off a national voter registration tour intended to elect more women and progressive candidates to office.

As participants gather in Houghton to line up for the Jan. 21, 2018, Sister March, Susan Burack of Hancock addresses the marchers about Power to the Polls -- registering to vote, voting, and making a difference locally by getting involved in the local community. Click on photos for larger versions.

Burack said the Houghton County Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters helped her spread the word about the march.

"The variety of the signs was wonderful," Burack said. "We sure have a lot of issues to march about. And the range of ages from babies to seniors and everyone in between. If it was 400-500 people it is a terrific representation of our population!"

Preparing to march to the Portage Lift Bridge, participants line up near the Houghton waterfront.

As she walked gingerly up the icy hill to Shelden Avenue Ellen Seidel, retired Michigan Tech librarian, commented on why the sister marches are important to her.

"The whole future's at stake," Seidel said, "from the planet to the children."

Several women who participated in the 2017 Women's March on Washington, DC, led the Sister March in Houghton this year. One of those was René Johnson, Finlandia University Servant Leadership director and assistant professor of religion.*

"Last year I may have been responding to my distress over the hateful, divisive rhetoric in the air and my angst over possible policy changes that would take America in a terrible direction away from the higher values of compassion, generosity, and kindness," Johnson said. "Going to the march in DC, surrounded by the most vibrant display of positive humanity (in both size and volume) that I'd ever experienced, was both a comfort to my distress and a confirmation that a powerful movement was afoot. I participated in Sunday's local Sister March because I choose to persist in supporting and promoting this movement (which I hope continues to resist bigotry and thin democracy even after this current administration), because I believe in the power of the people, and because I have a voice."
Inset photo: René Johnson of Hancock wears her message on an original sign during last year's Women's March in DC. (File photo © P.J. Besonen of Covington, Mich., and courtesy René Johnson)

Led by several local women who participated in the 2017 Women's March on Washington, DC, participants in the Jan. 21, 2018, Sister March head up the hill to Shelden Avenue on their way to the Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton. Click on YouTube icon for larger video screen. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Commenting on this year's Sister March in Houghton, Valorie Troesch of the Houghton Dems, who has led workshops on running for local office, echoed the theme of power in voting.

"There's a old maxim that the world is run by those who show up," Troesch told Keweenaw Now. "We need to show up -- run for office, vote, work for those who are running for office, speaking up."

Displaying a variety of signs with their concerns, marchers form a long line up Shelden Avenue and across the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Lorraine Weirauch of Tamarack City, a retired educator, said she participated in the Sister March because of several issues that are important to her.

Lorraine Weirauch of Tamarack City pauses on the bridge to comment on her participation in the march.

"I wanted to support the women, Planned Parenthood, DACA (so important!), indigenous women, fairness, justice -- a more thoughtful government," Weirauch told Keweenaw Now.

More videos:

After crossing the bridge to Hancock, marchers return to Houghton, most walking slowly and carefully on the ice-covered sidewalk of the bridge.

After walking up the east side of the bridge to Hancock, the large crowd divides in two groups to return on both sides of the bridge. Parents guide their children while some senior citizens hold onto the railings or walk slowly and carefully on the ice.

In the midst of the hundreds of marchers with signs calling for change, a few young men march in the opposite direction calling out the name of the US President. It was not clear what their purpose was, but the march remained peaceful.

Linda and Jim Belote of Hancock comment justifiably on the iciness of the bridge sidewalk. No injuries were reported, as far as we know. Marchers remain cheerful on the last part of the trek.

At the end of the Houghton Sister March, signs along the street remind passers-by of some of the issues of concern to the marchers. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Facebook friends share photos ...

Keweenaw Now appreciates the Facebook friends we contacted for permission to use the following photos they posted of their Sister March participation:

The Vendlinski family of Houghton display their individual signs as they prepare to join the 2018 Sister March to the Portage Lift Bridge. Pictured, from left, are Andi, Jim, Lewis and Catherine. (Photo courtesy Andi Vendlinski)

Andi Vendlinski also participated in the 2017 Women's March on Washington.

"I was very fortunate to be able to march in Washington last year and am glad that one year later we are still fighting, even in smaller cities like Houghton," Andi said. "It’s amazing to see how passionate people can be, and I am so proud of my family for standing up and taking part in this fight with me."

Artists Joyce Koskenmaki, left, and Bonnie Peterson, both grandmothers, display their list of issues of concern to "Grannies." Click on photo for larger version. (Photo courtesy Bonnie Peterson)

Katie Maki and daughter Daphne march in Marquette:

Katie Maki of Houghton still has great memories of her trip to Washington, DC, for the 2017 Women's March on Washington. On that long bus trip she and her daughter Daphne made new friends from Marquette; therefore, this year Katie and Daphne decided to re-unite with them by participating in the Jan. 21 Sister March in Marquette.

Katie Maki, left, her daughter Daphne, center, and Daphne's friend Mya Johnson, right, display their colorful signs during the Sister March in Marquette on Jan.21, 2018. (Photo courtesy Katie Maki)

Katie said it was difficult to compare the Marquette Sister March with last year's huge march in DC, though she found both "amazing."

"Obviously there was massive anticipation for the DC march including a three-hour car ride followed by an 18-hour bus ride!" she said. "Getting off that bus into a sea of women and pink was intense. We have never been a part of something that large and powerful. It was life altering. We met these ladies (and another woman who couldn’t be at the Marquette march) on the bus and decided to stick together at the march. What an amazing experience. Marquette was amazing too -- more people than I imagined. I don’t know numbers but it felt like 1000. The speakers were amazing, including the little girl who spoke at the end."
Inset photo: Katie Maki, right, in green jacket, and Daphne at the 2017 Women's March on Washington. (File photo courtesy Katie Maki)*

On Jan. 21, 2018, Katie and Daphne Maki join Marquette area friends they met in DC last year for the Sister March in Marquette. Pictured here, from left, are Jackie Stark of Marquette, Daphne Maki of Houghton, Judy Krause of Ishpeming, Katie Maki of Houghton and Mary Stone of Negaunee. (Photo courtesy Katie Maki)

Marquette marchers enjoy some sunshine during their Jan. 21, 2018, Sister March. (Photo courtesy Katie Maki)

A large sign at the Marquette Sister March reflects the emphasis on "Power to the Polls" in this year's women's marches. (Photo courtesy Katie Maki)

Community support for the Sister March in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Katie Maki)

More photos in new slide show:

Click here to see more photos in our new slide show: Sister March: Jan. 21, 2018. Click on the first photo. Click the info icon for the caption and follow arrows to the right for the slide show.

* Editor's Note: See our Feb. 3, 2017, article, "Local mothers, daughters, friends inspired by joining Jan. 21 Women's March in D.C."

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