About 4,000 Minnesotans joined the third annual Women's March in St. Paul Saturday, shivering in the bitter cold and joking that they may be the heartiest marchers in the nation.
They hoisted signs with slogans such as "A Woman's Place is in the House — and Senate" and rallied for a dozen progressive causes in a march that started a few blocks from the State Capitol and made its way to the Capitol steps.
Alicia Donahue, vice chairwoman of the Women's March Minnesota, marveled that despite the subzero morning temperatures, "You showed up! … That tells me we are unstoppable!" Donahue yelled to the crowd, which St. Paul police estimated at 4,000 strong at its height.
The rally was one of dozens held across the nation to build support for a wide array of issues that organizers say disproportionately affect women.
The nearly 20 speakers at the Minnesota event, for example, included a student fighting gun violence, a black transgender activist, an attorney fighting abuses of immigrant rights and an organizer working to overhaul African-American child protection.
The backdrop to the speakers on the Capitol steps reflected the diverse causes. There were rainbow-colored flags blowing in the wind. Green and white signs saying "ERA Yes," referring to the Equal Rights Amendment. Black and white "Black Lives Matter" signs. Indigenous women holding a placard that said "Water is Life." A photo of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the words "Long Live the Queen."
Former Rep. Erin Maye Quade, now advocacy director at Gender Justice, and her wife, Alyse Maye Quade, introduced the speakers, who shared often personal stories of triumph and inspiration.
Those in the crowd, overwhelmingly women, said it was important to show their support for women's issues. But each person had their own motivation for attending.
"I'm celebrating that this year is the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote," said Teri Spillers, a leadership consultant from Maple Grove who came with her two nieces. "And to support refugee issues."
The crowd dwindled to less than a thousand as the event went on. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, was among the final speakers. She urged listeners to remember the women's rights leaders who came before them, paving their way.