The Women’s March was a nationwide movement that marked an amazing turning point in history. With participation numbering around 4.8 million, women around the world protested to support their rights. Several women from North Colonie went to join the march in D.C. as well, thanks to the efforts of Ms.Skeals, the assistant superintendent of North Colonie.
Ms.Skeals is a powerful mentor and a huge contributor to the fight for feminism. Her beliefs date back to when she was a child: she always picked up books on “spunky girl characters”, from “Pippi Longstocking” to “Eleanor Roosevelt”. In high school, her passion for women’s rights climaxed when the Equal Rights Amendment was overturned. To her, passing the bill “was a no-brainer”-she questioned how “people didn’t recognize the need for it”. In addition, she wants to spread the idea that women can be “strong, kind, and nurturing”, that they need to use their voices and have pride in their abilities.
In the months leading up to the election, Ms.Skeals was not outspoken about her candidate of choice, because the “whole election process had gotten so ugly”. When the election process was over, however, she wondered why she didn’t speak up. She said, “when things matter, [I want] to at least bring up my point of view…how can I be [a feminist] if I was quiet on [the election results]?”
When the idea of a Women’s March came about, Ms.Skeals was at first unsure about whether or not she wanted to participate. But she said, “this has to be my lesson”. She wanted to voice her opinion on an issue she really cared for. So, she decided to participate in the march. At first, she thought that she “might [have had] to rent a van”, because several friends would be joining her. She, however, began to receive emails from various North Colonie employees inquiring about the march. Numbers got so large that Ms.Skeals rented a 55-seat bus that was filled to maximum occupancy.
The North Colonie group was so diverse. The youngest member was 10, and the oldest 78. It was full of “all ages and ranges, which [she] thought was phenomenal”. She said, “it was an amazingly awesome group of women”.
Upon reaching Baltimore, the group planned to stay overnight and then take a train to D.C. in the morning. Ms.Skeals had a ticket that said “[her] name and 55 riders”, but unfortunately the group was split up in the train station, and it was a huge hassle to get everyone safely into the train together; however, the task was eventually accomplished, and the women found themselves in DC on January 21st. Ms.Skeals said, “Everybody had their spirit, everybody had their pink hats, everybody had their signs…this whole grassroots [movement]…was amazing.”
“[The march] could’ve been a disaster…but it wasn’t.” Among millions of people, there were pockets of intimate conversations between people from different parts of the nation. Everyone came together in unison, men, women, northerners, southerners, vastly different people came together for an important cause. Passionate feminism filled the air, and it was a great experience for the women from North Colonie.
“We have such hope for the future”, Ms.Skeals says. “There have been generations in the past that have been a little complacent, but this generation is very aware”. We just have to keep pushing for equality and embrace an open-minded attitude that is willing to accept change.