Thousands of people march through downtown Fort Worth for human rights

Men, women, and children of different backgrounds gathered in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse Saturday afternoon to participate in the Fort Worth faction of the Women’s March.

One of the organizers, Ashley Paz, said she and her friends from the Fairmount neighborhood were planning to march in Dallas when they decided to create one for Fort Worth.

Demonstrators seated in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse.

“So it was like 20 people,” Paz said. “And then they found the national site, and they made the Facebook page, and they signed it up and it’s like everybody just came.”

Sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington cropped up all over the country and in other parts of the world since the larger demonstration was announced in December.

Organizers of the Women’s March have said they want elected leaders to know that they should protect the rights, health, and safety of everyone in the country — including women and marginalized groups who have felt threatened recently like the LGBTQ community, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, native people, and people with disabilities.

One of the organizers, Ashley Paz, said she and her friends from Fairmount neighborhood were planning to march in Dallas when they decided to create one for Fort Worth.

“So it was like 20 people,” Paz said. “And then they found the national site, and they made the Facebook page, and they signed it up and it’s like everybody just came.”

A group of volunteers listen as Ashley Paz instructs them
A group of volunteers listen to instructions an hour before the march

TCU chaplain, the Rev. Angela Kaufman, arrived more than an hour early to volunteer as a crowd marshal.

“The fact that we’re going to march here and not just in Austin or not just in Dallas talks about what we value as a Fort Worth community,” Kaufman said.

Paz stressed to volunteers that this was a non-partisan march and everyone was welcome as long as they remained peaceful.

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Volunteer the Rev. Angela Kaufman helps control the crowd and tells marchers when it’s their turn to go.

Voices from the crowd

Friends Christy Hopkins and Rhonda Schmit brought their daughters.

“I’m proud to see all these people here,” Schmit said, choking up and pointing to her daughter. “And I want her to see it.”

Hopkins said this march was a source of comfort for her and her family, who moved from the Midwest 15 months ago.

Christy Hopkins sits with her daughters and friends on the courthouse steps waiting for the march to begin
Christy Hopkins sits with her daughters and friends on the courthouse steps waiting for the march to begin.

Hopkins said she regrets that not speaking up about her beliefs in an effort to fit in a new place, and from now on she is going to be okay with sticking out.

“So going forward it’s like this is me, this is what I stand for,” Hopkins said. “I realize that’s not the majority here, but that’s okay. I’d rather people know me for how I stand about things than just simply be accepted.”

Schmit said the march pushed her to get involved in local grass roots movements.

“I don’t know if I can influence Washington, but I can influence where I live and my community,” Schmit said. “That’s where my goals are.”

Married couple Bob and Theresa Ellis talked about their idea of government’s role in society.

“I would like to encourage government to make a difference and to try to care for those who are least able to care for themselves,” Bob Ellis said.

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Bob and Theresa Ellis hold up their signs in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse before the march.

His sign referenced a quote from the Bible’s book, Matthew.

“We think the Bible is: you love God and you love other people,” Theresa said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Paz said she was proud of how the march went.

“This is not an event that is about elected officials, this is about the people,” Paz said. “And I feel like the people really owned this, and it’s special.”