About 300 people gathered in Phoenix on Saturday to focus attention on the experiences of black women and to speak out for change.

The March for Black Women in Phoenix was a sister-march to similar events in Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago and other cities on Saturday. It was held at Eastlake Park near Jefferson and 16th streets.

Sarra Tekola, 24, an organizer of the local march, said Phoenix is the front line of many struggles for women of color. 

Tekola described Arizona as “an aggressively white, conservative hell house,” where people of color and people in the LGBT community don’t feel safe. 

“Arizona has a lot of us afraid to speak up, believing if we keep our heads down and don’t make waves, we’ll be accepted. But then we still feel discriminated against,” Tekola said during a speech. “You don’t have to suffer in silence no more! … When we stand together, no one can stop us.”

The March for Black Women was “unapologetically” centered around the experiences of black women facing poverty, unequal wages, deportation and violence, among other factors, according to the event mission statement. The march encouraged the community to support the human rights of black women. 

There were no counterprotesters at the march, which was peaceful.

Marcher Lebertha Umbreit said it was important for her to show her support and practice her rights under the U.S. Constitution. 

“If we are going to make change, it’s up to us to come out and speak out,” she said. “So many times we are looking for other people to do it for us, but it has to start with us. … We need to make sure that people see us, hear us and understand us, because we have to let them know we can no longer stand still.”

Umbreit described the March for Black Women as a fight that has always been there, and others agreed.

“I feel like people of color have been oppressed and I feel like I need to stand up,” said Mari Giddings, 58.

She held a sign that read, “Respect women of color now.”

Giddings also said she felt scared under the Trump administration and marched because she has “really high hopes for this country.”

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