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Darien Jackson holds a sign as she joins the Womxn's March in Colorado Springs, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. This was Jackson's first year at the march. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner/The Gazette)

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Divisiveness is what catalyzed the first Women's March in 2017, and unity is what will keep it alive, said Melinda Hall.

"We need to be united and understand the reasons why people of different identities are struggling," she said during the Womxn's March Saturday in downtown Colorado Springs. "It's great that people are coming together here in Colorado Springs, because that's not always the case here."

Hall walked alongside about 250 people marching for equal rights for women, no matter what race, sexual identification, religion, political affiliation or citizenship. Most of the speakers touched on the issue, including Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, former congressional candidate and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Stephany Rose Spaulding and Rosemary Lytle, the president of the Colorado, Wyoming and Montana chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

All celebrated the number of women elected to Colorado and national political offices but reminded marchers that their effort to elevate women is not over.

"Last year, we committed ourselves ... to taking back the House. This year, we gather because the work must continue," Spaulding said.

The movement began in 2017 as a response to President Donald Trump's perceived misogyny and immigration and health care policies. Millions, including about 9,000 in Colorado Springs, marched worldwide the day after Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 to show their opposition.

The national Women's March family has not experienced the same unity as in Colorado Springs on Saturday. The organization is faced allegations of anti-Semitism, secretive financial dealings and "disputes over who gets to own and define the Women's March," the Washington Post reported. 

Despite this, the Washington march went on without any of the acrimony on display, the Post reported.

One of the Colorado Sorings march's organizers, Nancy Perez, said acceptance of all backgrounds is foundational to the women's movement.

"We need to be inclusive to all of our sisters," she said. "As an immigrant who came here when I was 10 years old, we need to be advocating for those who aren't given a voice, whether trans, a person of color or other."

Kim Spelts agrees.

"(The Women's March) is a big tent," she said while walking down East Kiowa Street. "Some people here may be pro-life and others may be pro-choice, for example, but it all coalesces under the feminine concepts of love and shared power, a community-focused way of living."

Spelts sees those values, as well as others that she grew up with, as largely absent from those in positions of power, particularly President Donald Trump. She and others at the rally see his decision to separate families at the U.S.-Mexico border as an assault against the importance of the family in the United States.

"It tears at my heart to see (Trump) make up a political crisis at the border when really people are being treated unfairly," said Spelts, who attended the first Women's March with her mom, Connie, in 2017 in Washington, D.C., that drew upwards of 500,000 people.

"I wasn't marching and burning my bra in the '60s and '70s, but, now that I'm in my 60s, I sure am marching," Connie Spelts said.

This year, Connie and Kim Spelts passed the torch their granddaughter and niece, 7-year-old Ajourney. When asked why she wanted to attend for the first time, she said, "Because it's a fun family that I wanted to be a part of."

Twitter: @lizmforster

Phone: 636-0193

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Liz Forster is a general assignment reporter with a focus on environment and public safety. She is a Colorado College graduate, avid hiker and skier, and sweet potato enthusiast. Liz joined The Gazette in June 2017.

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