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By Elizabeth Pattman / Times-News

RALEIGH —Thousands of people flooded Halifax Mall in Raleigh on Saturday to celebrate women across North Carolina who are fighting for change for themselves and for marginalized communities.

The Women’s Rally on Raleigh, held from 9 a.m. to noon downtown, was an anniversary celebration of last year’s Women’s March in Washington, when thousands of women and allies protested President Trump’s inauguration. This year, the rally celebrated the work that has been done to support the causes of women and marginalized communities, and the leaders driving those successes.

The event was organized by Women Mobilize NC, which said in a statement about the rally, “We will celebrate Women Leading the Resistance and uplift voices and stories of communities that are affected by the current administration and its oppressive policies. Though we come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, we are united in our aim to support and lift up the leadership of women and trans people of color, amplify voices of people from marginalized communities, elect responsible leadership, and advocate for a more just and equitable city, state, nation, and world.”

Similar rallies were held in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Asheville, as well as in major cities across the United States.

The Raleigh event began with performances by the Triangle Raging Grannies, V-Day Raleigh, which hosts a production of “The Vagina Monologues” each year, Sandra DuBose and others. Tables were set up around the mall by more than 30 organizations, allowing attendees to get more involved in activism in their areas.

As the crowd and their enthusiasm grew, several influential speakers took the stage to share what has been accomplished across North Carolina in women’s health, worker’s rights, immigration, tolerance, education, voting rights and other topics. The 14 speakers, who represented a wide variety of organizations ranging from Planed Parenthood to the NAACP to Equality NC, offered messages of accomplishment and encouragement, and urged the crowd to continue fighting.

“This movement must be happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Any less and we are not doing our due diligence,” said Nancy Petty, a pastor from the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh and a speaker at the event. “Do whatever you can day and night to fight for your rights.”

Despite differences of age, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender in crowd, the rally presented a united front of individuals working toward a common mission, something that speakers encouraged activists to continue.

“Try as this president and as this Legislature might, we will not be divided. Together, there is no stopping us. We can change this nation, sisters and brothers,” said MaryBe McMillan, president of the N.C. AFL-CIO.

Women, children, allies and dozens of public officials stood in solidarity to continue fighting for change throughout the rally. Activist organizations from Alamance County, including Indivisible NC 6, a countywide organization, and Indivisible: Onward! from Mebane, also were scattered throughout the large crowd.

“It feels really good to be here with all of these people who are coming together for women and for everyone,” said Trina Harrison, an Alamance County activist. “Women’s rights are human rights. The same things that women want are the same things that everyone wants: equal rights, equal pay, agency over our bodies. I feel positive, and I feel energized, and I’m having a great time.”

Local candidates in attendance included Ryan Watts, who is running for U.S. House in North Carolina’s 6th District, the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Erica McAdoo, who is running N.C. House in District 63, the seat currently held by Republican N.C. Rep. Steve Ross.

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