The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

It wasn’t just liberal enclaves. Women’s marches drew surprising numbers in red states and small towns, too

Men and women participate in the Farthest North Women’s March on Washington in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Saturday morning in temperatures that neared minus-20 degrees. (Robin Wood/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via AP)
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Ashley Donnert was unsure what to expect Saturday before she arrived for the Women’s March in Wichita, Kan. And she was a bit nervous; in her deep-red home state, where pro-Trump slogans and merchandise are a common sight, she is largely outnumbered in her objection to President Trump.

What she found were hundreds, if not thousands, of smiling marchers, chanting as they carried homemade signs demanding equal rights for women and protesting the president.

“It was amazing. I was not expecting a turnout like that in Wichita,” said Donnert, 27. “It was a day of hope. And I hadn’t really felt that in a while.”

The record-breaking participation in women’s marches across the country Saturday has drawn attention to the sharp opposition facing President Trump across liberal American cities, which pushed Democrat Hillary Clinton to a strong popular-vote victory against him even though he won in the decisive electoral college.

But the demonstrations weren’t just confined to liberal enclaves.

Protesters also gathered in red states and small towns across the country — in villages on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, in conservative pockets across the heartland, in rural towns in states like Virginia, and down throughout the South.

In Anchorage, thousands of protesters gathered despite an unforgiving snowstorm and 10-degree temperatures, holding signs with slogans such as “My body. My rights. My choice.” Farther north, in Fairbanks, thousands were undeterred by the extreme temperature, which approached minus-20 degrees.

At the same time, thousands marched outside the Idaho Statehouse in Boise as snow fell over them.

Even in rural Onley, Va., dozens of men and women gathered along a highway in solidarity with the larger Women’s March on Washington.

Asked how she would sum up the day, Donnert said it was “hopeful.”

“There are Trump supporters everywhere here, and so I expected some of them to turn up and be angry. But it was a very peaceful day,” she said. “The people of Wichita and the people of Kansas are generally very friendly people. I was very grateful it was such a peaceful day.”