There’s not much about Nov. 8, 2016, that lifelong Democrat Maria Cervania wants to replay. But Election Day had one bright spot for the Cary woman and, in a few days, she’s making a nearly 300-mile road trip to see if she can find that optimism again.
She’ll join the Women’s March on Washington, first conceived the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. Social media propelled the idea and the planning for thousands of women to converge on Washington, D.C., the day after Trump’s inauguration in a rally for women’s equality.
“After the election, so many people felt lost,” Cervania said. “The election was about what we stood for and a lot of it came through Hillary Clinton ... When (Trump) won, it sort of condoned some of those issues that we are trying to fight against.”
She pointed to disparaging remarks Trump made about a former beauty-pageant contestant and a reporter with a disability.
8 chartered buses from N.C. to D.C. are sold out for the Women’s March
As she joins the march, Cervania wants to recreate on a larger scale something she experienced while volunteering at the polls with the Wake County Democratic Party.
Cervania arrived at the Mills Park Elementary School precinct around 6 a.m., planning to greet voters and hand out materials asking for their support. She found herself sharing space with three other women doing the same – one from the Republican Party, one from a nonpartisan group and one representing a candidate.
The competition for voters and the strict rules about where volunteers may stand can sometimes led to tension, she said. But, not this time, Cervania remembers.
“We offered each other tea and extra jackets. We shared food ... We had boxes and helped each other recycle our materials.”
In the cold, for nearly four hours, the four women from all points of the political spectrum built a camaraderie.
At the march, “I’m sure it’s going to be a little more liberal but hopefully there will be women of all convictions and passions,” she said. “Every woman has their different cause ... Which makes it beautiful.”
Cervania’s journey will start around 3 a.m. Jan. 21 in a Durham parking lot where she’ll board a rented bus with about 35 women. They’ll meet other marchers near the National Mall and U.S. Capitol.
Other chartered “rally buses” will leave from Charlotte, Asheville, Boone, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Wilmington. All of the seats are sold out.
I really didn’t want this march to be an anti-Trump march. That wasn’t my intent. But, I’m getting more fearful everyday. I have to go and say no.
Sonya Glavin, from Creedmoor, N.C.
One North Carolina group making the trip represents three generations of women in their family.
“This is an opportunity to build some solidarity and strength. But this goes beyond women’s issues. I’m going there more as an American than a woman,” said Becky Paterson, a business owner from Greensboro who will attend with her 14-year-old daughter, her two sisters who also live in North Carolina, and other relatives.
Her sister Emily Paterson, from Charlotte, described the upcoming trip as a family reunion – bringing together their mom, age 71, who lives in Asheville, and her two aunts, one who lives in Illinois and one from Canada.
“It’s not anti-Trump,” Emily Paterson said of the march. “This is about showing that we’re strong. We have a voice and we support our country.”
The women interviewed for this article all said the women’s march wouldn’t be needed if Clinton had won.
“She was more in tune with women’s issues,” Becky Paterson said. “Maybe being a woman, she communicated more effectively her ideas to us ... If you are a minority or you are a woman, you’re cautious about government because you want to make sure that you’re recognized. I want to make sure that I’m acknowledged.”
Becky Paterson said she wants her oldest child, Sofia, a freshman in high school, to be inspired by the march.
“Her life, and hopefully her opportunities, will be different than me,” she said. “I want her to be involved. I think we have to speak a little more clearly about what our rights are.”
Another North Carolina mom says she wanted her daughter’s first inauguration experience to involve a woman taking the oath of office. Clinton supporter Sonya Glavin of Creedmoor has had Inauguration Day scheduled as a day off from work for awhile.
“But I’m not taking her to this,” Glavin said of her 8-year-old daughter. “You can’t have the leader of the free world talking about women like we’ve heard from the president-elect.”
Instead, Glavin will drive up Jan. 20 and meet a rally bus the next day at Washington Dulles International Airport.
“I really didn’t want this march to be an anti-Trump march. That wasn’t my intent,” Glavin said. “But I’m getting more fearful everyday. I have to go and say ‘no.’”
Glavin said she has particular concerns about Trump’s stances against abortion rights and in favor of blocking groups of refugees from immigrating to the United States.
Before she leaves, Glavin and her daughter are making protest signs.
“And, I’m going to write her a letter so she knows where her mother is and what she’s doing,” she said. “I want to come back with the energy to organize better.”