On Donald Trump’s first full day as president, Washington will likely see one of its largest rallies in years as women from across the country descend on the nation’s capital in a show of unity.

“It’s not so much a protest as a presence,” said former state Sen. Barbara Trafton of Auburn, who plans to attend.

It appears that several thousand Mainers are going to the Jan. 21 march in Washington, many on buses or in carpools. But there may be more, along with others who are heading for rallies in Augusta, Boston and other cities across the country.

It’s hard to get a firm count, said organizer Alicia Rea of Lewiston.

“There’s an awful lot of people who are going,” said Betty Robinson, a Tree Street Youth board member who’s heard from nearby friends as well as old high school and college pals intending to make the trek.

The Women’s March on Washington aims to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office — and to the world — that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us,” according to the group’s mission statement.


Organizers say they anticipate more than 100,000 people, mostly women, will gather for the march. A number of celebrities have said they plan to attend, including singers Katy Perry and Cher, actress Scarlett Johansson and comedian Amy Schumer.

After the recent campaign and harsh words for minorities from many, Robinson said, “We were just primed to respond to a call like this.”

She said there has been a phenomenal amount of behind-the-scenes networking going on to connect people who want to play a role in the march. Seeing it unfold, Robinson said, “is pretty striking.”

One of those who responded, Elizabeth Eams of Lewiston, recently sat with a dozen other women in a room at Bates College working on a sign that read, “Great Without Hate.”

“I worry about hatred in the world,” Eams said.

She said that if the marches are “big and everywhere” around the country, it will make a difference — as long as they have a positive tone.


“I do believe people-power matters,” said Eams, who expects to march in New York City with her 25-year-old son.

“People are making real efforts to be present,” said Trafton, who is flying to Washington for the march.

She said the point is to let leaders know “we are vigilant. We’re watching. We want to be represented.”

“I’ve had a lot of concerns and feelings about the upcoming four years,” Rea said. “I am really afraid.”

Rea said she is “deeply, deeply concerned” about Trump’s picks to head a number of federal departments.

“We’ve already seen with the nominations that it’s not going to be great,” Rea said.


One way to show that it’s a legitimate worry, she said, is to join the march.

“The timing’s right,” Rea said. “Our voices have to be heard.”

Seri Lowell, a Buckfield dairy farmer, said she’s doing it for herself and her family, for her son and daughter.

She said she’s looking for “a little sense of community” in the wake of Trump’s victory. She said many of her neighbors backed the Republican, leaving her feeling like an outsider.

Lowell is heading to Washington with her daughter, Maren, because the times demand it, she said. It’s important not to feel disempowered with so much at stake, she said.

“It’s important to regain a sense of agency,” Lowell said.


Maren Lowell, a freshman at the University of Maine at Farmington, said she’s glad to be going, too.

“It’s time to do something because there’s just so much hate for people who don’t deserve hate,” Maren Lowell said.

She said that some people’s rights are really threatened by the administration Trump is assembling.

“We have to push back against it,” Maren Lowell said.

“It’s important to be visible and show there’s an element of resistance” to the threats posed by the new president, she said.

Maren Lowell said her father told her she should go. He would march, too, she said, but somebody has to stay home and take care of the farm’s 200 cows.


Trafton said the country is sharply divided, but it’s important to note that Trump did not have a huge mandate to make far-reaching changes. He won the necessary electoral votes to prevail on Nov. 8, but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, she said.

Robinson said that a majority of Americans remain committed to human rights and “will not go down quietly” if Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress try to squelch women, immigrants, African-Americans and others.

“There will be resistance and a price to pay,” she said. “Democracy’s not worth anything if people aren’t active in it.”

Trafton said the march is only the beginning.

“We’re going to be present for four years,” she said. “We’re not going to sleep.”

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