’They feel empowered to take this democracy by the reins’: Hundreds speak up during Women’s March on Roanoke

Several years have passed since the first Women’s March on Roanoke, but the crowd at the annual demonstration has maintained their enthusiasm.

“There are issues that matter to them," said Ivonne Wallace Fuentes, one of the Women’s March on Roanoke’s organizers. "They feel empowered to take this democracy by the reins, and we know that message is getting out.”

Just like prior years, the marchers took their message from Elmwood Park up to City Market and back. Wallace Fuentes said the difference this year is the focus towards November’s presidential election.

“Democracy works best when everybody participates, and when women get a chance to be heard, to lead, and to govern,” Wallace Fuentes said.

Participants were encouraged to register to vote during the festivities, while some attendees such as Taylor Robertson said the march helped clarify their political goals.

“Women have a lot of room to grow in terms of the equality that we want to reach, so it’s important for me to be here,” Robertson said. “The shirt I wore today says, ‘A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate.’ In my opinion, they belong in the Oval Office, too.”

Wallace Fuentes believes Virginia has come a long way since the first Women’s March in 2017, including ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment earlier this year. However, she believes the Women’s March still has a role to play in Roanoke.

“It has brought new voices to the table, and it has reinvigorated community politics,” Wallace Fuentes said. “There is always more to do. The work never stops.”