A crowd of about 200 people squeezed into a downtown Portland venue Sunday to celebrate the power of the women’s rights movement and its efforts to resist an administration in Washington they say has divided the nation, not united it.

Women’s March – Maine, the regional chapter of the national group that organized the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., one year ago, and March Forth Maine sponsored Sunday’s event at Space Gallery on Congress Street.

Sunday’s sold-out anniversary celebration featured guest speakers, live performances, and a surprise appearance by Mary Herman, the wife of U.S. Sen. Angus King.

“Last year’s march was an historic event for women and for our country, and now is the time to evolve our protests into votes,” Genevieve Morgan, 2017 state chairwoman of the Women’s March – Maine, said in a statement.

Morgan explained that Sunday’s celebration offered people the chance to renew their commitment to one another and to get energized for the important work ahead – in particular promoting Power to the Polls, a national voter registration effort whose goal is to target swing states to register new voters and elect more women and progressive candidates to office.

The Portland get-together capped off a weekend of women’s rights demonstrations. About 2,500 people, most of them women, marched to the State House in Augusta on Saturday. Marches were also held Saturday in Bangor, Bar Harbor and Gouldsboro.


The Augusta rally included a march around Capitol Park, as well as speeches from lawmakers and activists.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration and the first day of the federal government shutdown.

Herman told the crowd that her husband really wanted to attend the event but was unable to come back to Maine from the nation’s capital because of the government shutdown. King won’t leave until he and his colleagues in the Senate can figure out a way to get the government running again, she said. The couple live in Brunswick

“He would have been here, but he is stuck in Washington,” Herman said.

Hermon urged those at the gathering to keep up their good work, to run for political office, and to get the votes out.

“If everyone stays involved, we’re going to get it back,” she said.


Adelaide Lyall may only be 16 years old, but she plans to commit her high school years to making sure her peers at Waynflete in Portland and other high schools become more politically active so that in two years, when they are eligible to vote, they can make informed choices.

Lyall, who serves as student ambassador to Women’s March – Maine, said she has found that students are knowledgeable but are less likely to be active in politics.

“I feel like we’ve got to get these young people motivated. They’re our future,” said Lyall’s mother, Blanche Belliveau of Portland.

Sarah Gormady of East Baldwin organized Sunday’s live performances, which included improvisational comedy and burlesque. She said she has spent most of her life accepting less than what she deserves, and that now is time for action, not standing around while others decide the country’s future.

“We got the president we deserve, not the one we wanted,” Gormady said.

Hamdia Ahmed is a junior at the University of Southern Maine and became the first Muslim woman with a hijab to compete in the Miss Maine USA contest.


A native of Somalia, she grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to the United States with her family in 2005. Ahmed urged the audience to resist, especially leaders like Trump, who she claims is a divider, not a politician interested in uniting the nation. “Today we are in a government shutdown because our government can’t agree on how to protect 800,000 immigrants,” Ahmed said, referring to so-called “dreamers,” young immigrants brought illegally to this country as children and whose status is threatened by Trump’s plan to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

She said that while the United States is a great nation, “our greatness will not depend on Donald Trump.”

Morgan, the chairwoman of Women’s March – Maine, said her organization will continue to build its movement by reaching out to the state’s most marginalized communities in an effort to create social and political change.

“We want to empower people in Maine to hold their leaders accountable, and to realize that as a nation there is more that binds us than divides us,” she said.


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