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March draws 500 to Clemson in support of women’s rights

Participants march in Clemson on Saturday in support of women’s rights.

Katie McCarthy, News Editor

Sydney Carroll, a junior food sciences major, was one of more than 500 people who gathered in Clemson to participate in the Tri-County Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21.
“I have three sisters and they mean the world to me, so I came out to support all of the women in my life who have helped make me who I am today, and to push forward to keep our rights that we have and make even more equality happen in the world,” she said.
The Tri-County Women’s March was one of 673 sister marches across the world that took place in partnership with the Women’s March on Washington; it was also one of four sister marches in South Carolina.
“We were the first sister march [to organize] in South Carolina, so we put South Carolina on the map,” said Jody Usher, one of the march’s coordinators.
The march started at the Littlejohn Community Center, making its way down Highway 93 to the Strom Thurmond Institute on Clemson’s campus for a teach-in.
“When we were walking by, there were a bunch of people who would honk and wave and everyone was just like giving [us] thumbs up. I didn’t see anyone that was upset at what we were doing,” said Catherine Petty, a junior biological sciences major. “It’s just good to see people standing together.”
Organizers said that that the teach-in was originally supposed to be held at Hardin Hall, but was moved to Brackett Hall before being moved to the Strom Thurmond Institute. According to a press release, Clemson University Provost Bob Jones requested that the group move the teach-in to a designated free speech area of campus.
“It was originally supposed to be in [the] Hardin [Hall] auditorium, [which has a] capacity [of] 129. We hit that number early this week, so we moved to Brackett [capacity 381]. We capped that number by Wednesday. Thursday morning we started looking for a larger venue. Friday we were still looking for a larger venue… Friday afternoon we were contacted and told that we needed to relocate to a public space [such as] Cox Plaza, which is outdoors and we really didn’t want to do because of the rain forecast… The Provost kindly found us this space and at six o’clock yesterday he called us and said ‘you’ll be in [the] Strom Thurmond Institute,’” Usher said.
The group secured a university shuttle to make rounds from the Strom Thurmond Institute to the Littlejohn Community Center as well.
“We must stand and be who we are. We should not let anyone define us,” saidone of the featured speakers during the teach-in. “We are the movers and shakers and when we come together we shake up things.”
Organizers said the event was an opportunity for people to stand together regardless of race, gender identity, age or abilities, in support of human and constitutional rights.
Signs promoting women’s rights were the most common, but some marchers were also carrying signs in support of causes such as immigration, reproductive rights and free speech.
“Everyone thinks we’re all against each other when really you can be standing next to two people and one of those people is probably standing with you,” said Ava Knoske, a freshman industrial engineering major.
Organizers also promoted action at local charities. These included Safe Harbor, an Upstate domestic violence shelter and support organization, and Our Daily Bread, a food bank located in Seneca.
Usher said there will be more events in the future and that organizers have created a Facebook group for marchers to keep in touch.
“[There’s] a lot of desire for next steps, and the National Sister March team is going to be organizing next steps. We’ll be part of that,”

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