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Amid cold and controversy, women’s march draws crowd to the Common

A crowd gathers in front of a stage to listen to speakers during the Boston Women's March on Boston Common Saturday afternoon.
A crowd gathers in front of a stage to listen to speakers during the Boston Women's March on Boston Common Saturday afternoon. (Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)

In its third iteration on a frigid day, Boston’s march for women drew several thousand people Saturday, a much smaller crowd than the first march the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The official national leaders of the Women’s March Inc. remain embroiled in controversy over their inability to distance themselves from claims of anti-Semitism. Though Boston’s organizers, called March Forward Massachusetts, operate independently of the national leaders, they were mindful of the mood, emphasizing “radical inclusivity” and inviting speakers who denounced racism, anti-Semitism, even ableism, discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

The crowd also celebrated women’s historic wins in the midterm elections, fueled by the energy and activism that drove the marches from the start. Representative Ayanna Pressley invited all the women who had run for office to join her on stage, celebrating “women who answered the call to run, to serve, who didn’t ask permission to lead, who didn’t wait their turn.”

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“What we put in and what we saw play out in 2018 was work. And we’re still putting in that work,” Pressley said. “And we are just getting started.”

The Globe asked participants, many of whom were first-time marchers, what motivated them to join the third march.

“This is my first one. . . . I think #MeToo is really great. I think there’s a lot of progress that still needs to be done, but I think #MeToo is a great way to get started, to get women where we need to be.” — Andrea Sims, 18, a Lasell College fashion design student from Marlborough.
“This is my first one. . . . I think #MeToo is really great. I think there’s a lot of progress that still needs to be done, but I think #MeToo is a great way to get started, to get women where we need to be.” — Andrea Sims, 18, a Lasell College fashion design student from Marlborough.(Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
“For me, especially being around a lot of strong women at an event like this, is very empowering. It just shows that we’re all in this together.” — Maggie Sjostrom, 19, a Boston College freshman from Atlanta
“For me, especially being around a lot of strong women at an event like this, is very empowering. It just shows that we’re all in this together.” — Maggie Sjostrom, 19, a Boston College freshman from Atlanta (Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
“I’m dressed up as a handmaid from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ because I’m just not comfortable or happy with how things are going right now, the direction we’re going as a country. ” — Stephanie Callan, 29, a bakery worker from Lowell.
“I’m dressed up as a handmaid from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ because I’m just not comfortable or happy with how things are going right now, the direction we’re going as a country. ” — Stephanie Callan, 29, a bakery worker from Lowell.(Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
“I don’t have any money. I am not able to donate to all of the causes that matter to me. And this is the best way I felt I could do it besides signing petitions.” — Samantha Grabelle, 48, of Warwick, a professor who dressed as the Statue of Liberty, as did her 6-year-old son, Julius Mercure.
“I don’t have any money. I am not able to donate to all of the causes that matter to me. And this is the best way I felt I could do it besides signing petitions.” — Samantha Grabelle, 48, of Warwick, a professor who dressed as the Statue of Liberty, as did her 6-year-old son, Julius Mercure.(Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
“It is more than ever important to show resistance.” — Martina Jackson, 77, of Newton. “The transgender community wouldn’t have made it without allies, and that’s why I’m here today. . . . These are my sisters.” — Holly Ryan, 66 (on right) a transgender activist from Newton.
“It is more than ever important to show resistance.” — Martina Jackson, 77, of Newton. “The transgender community wouldn’t have made it without allies, and that’s why I’m here today. . . . These are my sisters.” — Holly Ryan, 66 (on right) a transgender activist from Newton.(Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)
“In this city and in cities around the Commonwealth we march in unity. We are not divided and we recognize that hate is hate. And there is no room in this movement for hate of any kind.” — Tanisha Sullivan, president NAACP-Boston.
“In this city and in cities around the Commonwealth we march in unity. We are not divided and we recognize that hate is hate. And there is no room in this movement for hate of any kind.” — Tanisha Sullivan, president NAACP-Boston.(Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe)