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PERSONAL PAC: South Florida women searching for hope head to anti-Trump march in D.C.

As the November election results came in and tears rolled down her face, Carrie Feit couldn't stop thinking about her nieces.

Unlike her own 6-year-old daughter, Feit's 12- and 14-year-old nieces were old enough to ask their mother about what they heard Donald Trump say on television. They wanted to know about the leaked "Access Hollywood" tape, of crude groping language infamy.

"My sister had to wake up the next day and tell her daughters that he won," Feit said. "That 'we' elected him, that he won, that this country was OK with all that."

Feit, 42, turned her anger into action. Two days after Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton, Feit was area captain for the Miami-Dade County section of the Women's March on Washington, a catch-all demonstration for a slew of liberal causes planned for Saturday, the day after Trump's inauguration. It's expected to draw some 200,000 people from across the country.

 

"I thought about my nieces and all little girls that we want to empower," Feit said. "The idea that they and other girls would think they did not deserve as much respect as anyone else pained me to the core."

A robust contingent of Florida women is headed to the march any way they can. One bus from Miami-Dade -- a nearly 20-hour ride away -- sold out weeks before the trip. For those who can't make it to D.C., a simultaneous local rally is planned at Bayfront Park.

One of the lead Florida organizers is Emma Collum, a 32-year-old Fort Lauderdale attorney who came across a small group of women on Facebook who planned to march in Washington. She offered her legal services -- and ended up wrangling logistics for 20,000 Floridians interested in attending "on planes, trains and automobiles."

"I haven't felt hope since the election, and I'm feeling like I have my voice back now," she said, adding that she'd woken up on Nov. 9 "feeling a sense of loss."

Collum said she knows of at least 50 chartered buses making the trip from Florida, many of them driving straight back after the march without staying the night.

"It's not a pleasure cruise, but these women are so activated and so excited," Collum said. "Even my stepfather is coming with us, because he says he regrets that he didn't march against Vietnam."

The mass demonstration will advocate for traditional women's issues, such as equal pay, abortion rights and paid family leave, but also for other issues that rally-goers fear won't get support from Trump's administration, including LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, gun control, climate chance, worker rights and racial justice.

Organizing the march, which began as a local endeavor in D.C., has not been without difficulty. What began as an effort to stand up to Trump became an umbrella for myriad other concerns. There were questions over whether the protest focused too much on women, and too much (or too little) on minorities, though attendees and organizers say they've worked through most of the rough patches.

The D.C. march will begin at 10 a.m. at Independence Avenue and Third Street Southwest, near the National Museum of the American Indian. Sister marches are planned across the country to "affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination," according to the national march's platform.

Other groups have obtained permits to protest -- and support -- Trump on Inauguration Weekend, including Bikers for Trump.
To attend the women's march, Kat Guevara, a designer from Aventura, skipped the cramped bus ride and opted for a plane ticket, although to save money she's planning on staying with a firefighter friend in a firehouse near the capital. A lifelong self-described feminist who gives her age as "forever young," she started volunteering for Planned Parenthood in high school. She worked her way through the University of California-Berkeley during the Vietnam War, where she -- yes -- burned her bras at protests.

She rallied for Roe v. Wade with her young daughter on her shoulders, sued her employer for equal pay (she won, she said) and volunteered at a Clinton phone bank in Miami. But this protest, she said, may top all of that. Trump needs to see women and understand them, Guevara said.

"I'm not in any way angry," she said. "I just want respect."

A lymphoma survivor, Guevara was particularly pained by Trump's comments about those with disabilities. Trump mocked a disabled New York Times reporter -- something Clinton repeatedly noted during her campaign -- and has since insisted he did not.

"He's saying all this stuff and no one is doing anything. It's discrimination," Guevara said. "He's very disrespectful."

Last Wednesday night, Guevara showed up at the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach to help make signs for other marchers at the rally. She tried her best to imitate the lettering on the Constitution as she wrote, "We the people are women" on white poster board. To finish, she added a pink female symbol.

The Florida chapter for the march raised more than $30,000 in their "Sponsor-A-Marcher" effort to help more women afford the D.C. trip. Local women's charities will distribute the money to marchers who want to attend to make sure the attendees represent more than just affluent white women, a goal of the national organizers.

The owner of one of those charities, Constance Collins, 58, cut out the phrase "Only Love" from poster board to make her sign at the Standard last week.

She bought her plane ticket when she first heard about the march, just a few weeks after her visit to Seneca Falls, New York, home to a monument commemorating the fight for women's right to vote (the Seneca Falls Convention was the first organized by suffragettes in 1848).

"It's moving to be reminded of how women have suffered throughout history for even the most basic of rights," Collins said.
Collins runs Lotus House, a Miami shelter for homeless women and children. She said her experience working with her residents inspires her to be more vocal for women's rights.

"I know so many women survive by being invisible," she said. "I want to stand up and give them a voice."

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