A crowd of “belligerent optimists” descended upon the Benton County Courthouse lawn Saturday morning for a rally, encouraging passersby to vote and stand up for women’s rights.
The rally was one of 10 statewide iterations of Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington D.C., which originated in 2017 as a protest of the Trump administration. Inspired by a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a group called the Belligerent Optimists organized the Corvallis demonstration, opting for a rally rather than a march.
Organizer and Corvallis resident Amy Hunter said she was disappointed to see that no rally had been organized in the mid-valley in the past few weeks. So she took matters into her own hands.
“I thought it’s time to quit complaining and start being activated,” Hunter said. She called the ad hoc group formed to put on the rally Belligerent Optimists because “I thought it perfectly aligned with my values and the way I like to work.”
Around 70 mid-valley residents and visitors from Portland showed up within the first half hour of the rally, which was held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Multiple genders and age groups were represented. Voters also trickled in and out of the protest while dropping off ballots outside the courthouse.
“We have to support women’s rights, which are human rights,” Hunter said. “It’s not just a women’s issue. All these issues touch the lives of men.”
Volunteers also sold T-shirts, baseball caps and more emblazoned with the “belligerent optimist” slogan and “Black Lives Matter.” Proceeds will go toward the Mid-Willamette chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Oregon State University student Carmen Donnerberg said, being from Portland, she was happy to see such a rally in Corvallis and she went to speak out for women’s rights.
“Especially with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it’s important that we fill her space and show that women have an impact,” Donnerberg said. “We have needs.”
Corvallis resident Susan Salafsky, who also helped coordinate the rally with the Corvallis Climate Action Alliance, shared her hopes for people to take the upcoming general election seriously.
“I am an ecologist and, given our current climate, economy and social justice crises, this election is arguably one of the most critical in our lifetime,” she said.
For more information on the national Women’s March, visit womensmarch.com.
Nia Tariq can be reached at 541-812-6091. Follow her on Twitter @NiaTariq.