Thousands march for women’s rights in Bakersfield


Miranda Defoor

Participants take part in the first Kern County Women’s March on Jan. 20

Paige Atkison, Reporter

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Bakersfield on Saturday, Jan. 20, to march in favor of women’s rights.

Saturday’s event was organized by Kern County chapter of the Women’s March, a national string of protests sparked by the 2016 inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The march was brought to Kern County by Bakersfield residents, Kimberly Kirchmer and Jessica Nix.

“I was inspired to participate in part by Kimberly Kirchmer,” said co-executive director, Nix. “She organized busses to bring women from Bakersfield to Los Angeles during the march last year.”

Kirchmer and Nix worked tirelessly to organize the event in Bakersfield, but they did not expect more than 2,000 attendees. To their surprise, over 5,000 arrived to march.

“We were overwhelmed by the community support for this event- across the board. From elected officials, to former officials, to the city and police department, to the locals and volunteers, we were overwhelmed with love and support,” said Nix.

The event began with speakers addressing the crowd as patrons listened and visited vendors. While the speaker addressed a myriad of issues from women’s rights to immigration reform, the recurring theme was civic engagement.

“The main purpose is to get people civically involved,” said Nix. “What we want to ask people to do is to take a pledge to vote. Statistics say that if you pledge to vote, you’re infinitely more likely to actually vote.”

The marchers took to the streets at noon, wielding banners, singing, and chanting. As the attendees marched through downtown, nearby cars honked their horns in support.

Marcher Lynn Runyan, 70, said she was marching to leave a better world for her grandchildren. Runyan sat quietly, holding her sign and listening to the speakers address the crowd.

“I’m here because I’m so concerned about the world my grandchildren will grow up in. With the way things are going, there needs to be a change,” said Runyan.

City Councilmember Andrea Gonzales of Ward 2 marched alongside the crowd as they made their way through downtown Bakersfield and returned to Central Park.

“I’m here as a supporter,” said Gonzales. “A supporter of women, of their rights and their dignity. And until they have their equal rights we’ll be marching.”