By Luke Weir, in the High Country Press:
Gusts of up to 300 protesters swept King Street on a blustery Boone afternoon last Saturday, in solidarity with millions gathered across the United States and around the world for the 2018 “Power to the Polls” Women’s Marches, centered in Las Vegas Jan. 21.
The same weekend picketers assembled for Women’s Marches in cities from Las Angeles to New York City, and internationally in every continent except Antarctica, hundreds in Boone participated in their own Sister’s March at 3 p.m. on Jan. 20 from the Watauga Public Library to the front yard of the Jones House downtown, where even more joined the gathering.
Leading the march was Paula Finck, wearing a yellow apron with “campaign finance reform” in black text on the front. Finck, 88, has helped organize two Sister’s Marches in Boone over the past two years, and told High Country Press she intends to make it an annual event until the country is run in a democratic way.
“My name is Paula Finck and I’m just a grandmother,” Finck said to a packed library meeting room before the march began.
“I am here because I was inspired by Granny D.” Finck said. “She was 89 when she walked across the country for campaign finance reform, and that’s why I have this apron on—it was what she walked in, step by step, talking to the People.”
“I’m here for my grandchildren and others, and all children around the world, and I’m here for the Future of the Earth.” Finck said. “Primarily, I do care about my Country and my congress having a dependency on money from corporations and lobbyists to follow their private interests, and not the People’s.”
To support campaign finance reform, Finck handed out cards promoting NCwethePeople.org, the web address of a ballot initiative closing in on its goal of 2,000 citizen signatures, and endorsed by Mayor Rennie Brantz, who also made remarks following Finck’s introduction.
“Today we have an opportunity to speak out, and we have a chance to sign a petition—which I already have—to ask for a referendum in North Carolina that will call for a constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate money from the political system,” Mayor Brantz said. “Nineteen states have done so already, and we will be the next.”
In addition to speeches from the Mayor and Finck, other protestors voiced a plethora of their own concerns by chanting and waving homemade picket signs in the wind. Some marchers spoke up and made short remarks to the congregation in front of the Jones House.
Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March, which started in Washington, D.C. in 2017, and claims to be the largest coordinated protest in U.S. history, according to the website.
In addition to recognizing Watauga County Public Library and the Jones House for providing a public space in which to gather, Finck said she would also like to acknowledge We, the People, and all the various causes working for equal justice who showed up to the Sister’s March last Saturday.
“I don’t work from fear; I work from hope & inclusivity, and we are at the beginning of a time of change.” Finck said. “We have to know the names of our elected officials: civic, state and federal. We have to call them and write them about what we want to do.”
To learn more about your local, state and federal elected officials and how to contact them, visit wataugacounty.org.
To learn more about the NC We the People ballot initiative and petition, visit NCwethePeople.org.
To learn more about the 2018 “Power to the Polls” Women’s March in Las Vegas, visit powertothepolls.com.