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By Mel White 

Marching again

On the Bright Side

 

Last year about this time I wrote about my experiences marching in Los Angeles in the Women's March, along with some 750,000 other people. This year I'm writing about the same kind of event, but this time I was marching with several thousand people in Bakersfield. Two very different experiences, and yet also very much the same.

The Women's March has become an annual global event, and last year a few cities in California hosted marches. A friend and I opted to go to Los Angeles via MetroLink, and I wrote "we became a sea of humanity... all different sorts of people, all different genders, different nationalities, different colors, different styles of clothing, different ages, different motivations, different issues, different reasons for being there. But the energy was so positive and so inclusive, so cheerful and so loving, so accepting and so helpful, it was easy to get caught up in the good feelings and let the happy adrenalin carry us along."

This year I'd had a hard time deciding where to go. Some 30 California cities were hosting marches this year, and while I thought it would be good to support a local march, I also wanted to go back to that huge "sea of humanity" in Los Angeles and have those experiences again. Ultimately, however, my friend Susanna and I decided it was more important to be seen and to contribute locally, so we signed up with the Tehachapi contingent to go to the Kern County March.

It turned out to be a great decision as the whole day was fantastic. It was snowing when we left Tehachapi with a full busload of people, but Bakersfield, while overcast, was dry and brisk and occasionally sunny. But who cared – we were ready for whatever. As we got off the bus at Mill Creek Park, I felt the same way I had in LA, although the crowd was much smaller.

As it turned out, the weather hadn't seemed to deter anyone. No one – from our group on the bus to the organizers of the Kern County March to any other attendee – expected the turn-out we had. Organized by a group of "strong-willed, ethnically diverse women (and one amazing young man)," ages 20-something to grandma, brought about this historic event (reportedly the largest political rally of any kind in the history of Bakersfield).

It was one of the best organized events I've ever been to (and I've been to quite a few) and the day was once again a day of solidarity and celebration for a variety of human beings (plus a few dogs and at least one parrot). There were 5000-plus marching in Bakersfield, people representing all the outlying areas, all races, all ages, all genders, all nationalities, all everything. There were speakers all day long, not movie stars or politicians but rather people like you and me who were sharing personal experiences and informative facts and plans and ideas. There were singers and poets and dancers as well on the main stage, which was just one activity center in a park that also boasted some 50 vendor booths (merchandisers, social and support groups, church groups, educational groups, political, etc.). When we marched we took up over four blocks with our own "sea of humanity."

Inspiring is the word I keep coming back to. Inspiring for those of us who understand that there are many issues (i.e. reasons for marching) and they as diverse as we are as Americans. Inspiring because it was a day for people to come together to express support for each other, to offer help or aid or solace to each other, to nod or acknowledge each other and to recognize that while our needs may be different from person to person, they are all basic human needs.

I am so very proud to have been a part of the Kern County March, proud of the many other Tehachapi residents who showed up and took part, proud of the county residents who made such a bold statement in our little corner of the world where we don't often see that kind of thing. I am so proud of us all, and I am inspired still.

I can't wait for next year's march to see how we grow!

© Copyright 2018. Mel White, a local writer/photographer, has been writing “On the Bright Side” columns for various newspapers since 1996. She is also co-owner/founder of the unusual and eclectic Treasure Trove in downtown Tehachapi; she welcomes your comments at morningland@msn.com

 
 

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