While hundreds of thousands are marching Saturday in the Women's March on Washington, thousands are expected to gather in Cincinnati for a "sister march."
The event's Facebook page shows that well over 4,000 people have signed up to say they will be there for the noon rally in Washington Park and the march to City Hall that will follow.
No one knows if all of those people will actually show up, but local organizer Billie Mays said the committee putting on the event is assuming that they will and preparing for a huge crowd in the Over-the-Rhine park.
Mays said that while hundreds from the Cincinnati area are going to Washington for the national march, many people here can't make the trip, but want to make a statement to the new administration in Washington. And, Mays said, it's about more than women's rights.
"It's about women's rights but it is also about human rights,'' Mays said. "It's about rights that are now in jeopardy with the new administration coming in that doesn't believe in some of those rights. And so it is very important that it is women's rights, but that it's also about human rights."
People attending the rally will hear speeches from representatives of a wide range of groups – among them Planned Parenthood, Women Helping Women, Black Lives Matter, the Amos Project, and the Islamic Center of Cincinnati. Newly-elected State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Norwood) will speak on labor rights, while Cincinnati council member Chris Seelbach will be heard on LBGTQ rights.
They will also hear from Democratic council candidate Michelle Dillingham and council member Yvette Simpson, a candidate for mayor, Mays said. Vice Mayor David Mann will be on hand representing Mayor John Cranley, whom Mays said could not attend, and will read a proclamation naming Saturday as "Women's Day" in Cincinnati.
"We are marching for a plethora of different rights, depending on the person,'' Mays said. "As women, we definitely want equal pay for equal work. Pro-choice, reproductive rights is definitely a foundation right that most all of us agree with."
Originally, organizers thought they would need about $3,000 to put on the event, including paying for permits, insurance, security and other costs associated with a public rally and march.
So they went to the public for help. They set up a GoFundMe account and raised over $6,000, Mays said.
"As it turned it, we have more people than we ever anticipated saying they are coming, so we need the money,'' Mays said. "We don't have any big companies or sponsorships. This is all done by small donations by people in this area."
After the speeches, along with some spoken-word and musical performances, the attendees will begin a march to Cincinnati City Hall and back. Mays said it is meant to educate the public and assure people in minority groups they are not alone.
Mays says similar marches will be held in over 300 cities Saturday.
Mays said she is often asked what the marchers hope to accomplish.
"My hope is to make these points to people that may have questions or keep asking us why we're marching or why we just don't accept things,'' Mays said. "It's also for people to realize that they are not alone, especially if you are in a minority group."