Photographs & Story by Meg McKinney
The distance in decades didn’t interfere with young women talking with Hester Miner, 97, at the Birmingham Sister March, held concurrently with the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 21.
“It’s important to speak out,” Miner told them that day at Linn Park. Miner marched by way of wheelchair along with a crowd estimated at around 5,000. The peaceful Birmingham event attracted marchers state-wide—many wearing symbolic pink, hand-knitted hats. They came to voice their opinions and concerns on everything from women’s healthcare, LGBT rights, immigration, education, climate change and more amid a time of nationwide political uncertainty and conflict. A “V” for victory unified the crowd during pre-march speeches by representatives of the Hispanic, Islamic, and African-American communities. Birmingham Mayor William Bell, and Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd came out to speak, among many others.
For most of the women who turned out, the spirit of the Birmingham march didn’t end in January. Political activism continues in the form of mail-outs to Alabama politicians, town hall meetings and newly formed social media groups.
Because of the high level of passion for the Women’s March, with events held worldwide, I looked forward as a photojournalist and a woman to photographing the Birmingham march. I have photographed protest assignments for daily newspapers that resulted in arrests, with television and police helicopters flying over head. Unlike those protests, the Birmingham Sister March held to a schedule and was peaceful. The speakers clearly presented the issues, and the marchers were unified with a sense of purpose. I’ll be glad to photograph a women’s march any day.