- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Tens of thousands of men, women and children took to the streets Saturday to take part in the Women’s March on Philadelphia, in conjunction with similar demonstrations in Washington and other cities, walking shoulder to shoulder stretched for a solid mile along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia march had a party-like atmosphere, with participants singing songs like “This Land is My Land” and chanting slogans like, “Women’s rights are human rights.”

Organizers said the marches were meant to unify communities that felt targeted during the recent presidential campaign, including women and racial and religious minorities, and had concerns about President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Mayor Jim Kenney estimated around 50,000 marched in Philadelphia.

Retired teacher Terri Cohen-Johnson, 66, marched for women’s rights in the 1960s and on Saturday, marched for those same rights.

“I am here to share this experience with thousands of other people who feel that our present administration can be destructive,” she said.

She said if she could tell Trump anything it would be that the campaign is over and now is the time to act.

Michele Hangley, 50, brought her 7-year-old daughter, Julia to the protest.

“I am very worried about where the country is going in the next four years. I’m worried about women’s rights. I’m worried about LGBT rights. I’m very worried about refugees. I’m worried about minorities,” she said. “I hate to leave anyone out. It’s a long list.”

While a majority of the signs indicated support for women’s rights, there were also people focused on other issues. One woman’s sign showed the president with an orange face and read, “Agent Orange is not good for the environment.” Another woman carried a placard addressed to the president that said, “My undocumented boyfriend pays his taxes. Show me yours.”

The march also included a number of men, one of whom carried a sign saying “Men of quality don’t fear equality.”

Madeleine Ghillany-Lehar, 23, said the march was the first time she’d taken to the streets in protest apart from a “Free Tibet” rally while studying in India. She was motivated by a realization that she’s not as free as she thought she was.

“This is a discovery that a lot of white women have not wanted to confront, how many barriers are actually in the way,” said Ghillany-Lehar, who works in marketing for a start-up in Philadelphia. “I have friends of color who say, ‘This has been happening forever. Why are you surprised?’”

She said seeing so many people of one mind gathered together is inspiring. “It’s really energizing. I’m ready to stand up.”

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