South Kern Sol, News Report, Dean Welliver
Millions of women will band together next week in cities across the nation in a monumental march for female empowerment as they plan to flex their political might — and for the first time, Kern County will take part.
Last year, millions rallied following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, with many participants marching in opposition to statements he made that some said denigrated women. They marched in major cities, including Cincinnati, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
The streets in Bakersfield were quieter in comparison.
Kern County women took buses to Los Angeles and marched there instead. Kimberly Kirchmer, a substitute teacher and local community activist, was among them.
She contacted event organizers in L.A. this year to ask about again coordinating buses to and from the valley. They turned her down, and instead challenged her to organize an event of her own.
The Women’s March Kern County was born.
So far, more than 1,000 people have signed up to march, according to Kirchmer, who’s serving as co-executive director of the Women’s March Kern County along with Jessica Nix, a local political activist.
Officially, the march will promote the principles established by the national Women’s March organization, including fighting for environmental justice, ending violence, and protecting reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights and immigrant rights, according to the Women’s March website.
Unofficially, however, event organizers want women to leave the march feeling empowered to use their voices socially and politically, Nix said.
“There are so many reasons why we have to be active — as women, at the polls and in our communities. We hope they will be empowered, first and foremost, and we hope that they are inspired to vote — to know that their voice matters and that their vote matters,” Nix said.
Kirchmer added that she also wouldn’t mind seeing an increased voter turnout.
“I would like to be able to see an increase in votes across the county. The march allows people to take action. Marching is taking the first step,” Kirchmer said. “If they want to see change for the better, then this is one way to start that. This is a step in the direction for positive change.”
The rally begins 10 a.m. Jan. 20 in Central Park at Mill Creek before protesters march downtown. They’ll return to the park, where local leaders will deliver personal stories highlighting principles for which organizers are fighting.