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Local activist says Women’s March on Washington didn’t represent her beliefs

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 22:47:11-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Organizers estimate that more than 10,000 Virginians joined the Women's March on Washington Saturday, a gathering of an estimated 500,000 people speaking out against "demonzing and demeaning" language used about women and minority groups during last year's presidential campaign.

While march organizers look to mobilize the energy from Saturday, some Central Virginia women said the march did not represent their views.

Leslie Blackwell, a pro-life advocate and blogger with the group called Silent No More, said many pro-life women felt excluded or uninvited from Saturday's march.

Leslie Blackwell

Leslie Blackwell

She said media coverage of the march made it seem like all women agreed with ideas presented. Blackwell and a friend wrote a blog post about their thoughts on the weekend marches.

"I was happy to see such enthusiasm, and then when I realized that so many of my pro-life, feminist friends were uninvited, that really bothered me," Blackwell said. "Those women [at the march] did not represent me, and I think what they represented was a lot of anger."

Pro-life groups were present at the march on Saturday.  The founder of the pro-life group New Wave Feminist told CBS News they were dropped as a direct partner by organizers, but were accepted at the march and treated respectfully.

Blackwell pointed to March for Life events, annual pro-life rallies that draw thousands of supporters, as an example of support for views contrary to the majority of views presented Saturday.

However, a large number of Virginians saw the march much differently.  Many of the weekend marchers said they participated to speak up for women's equality, reproductive rights, and discrimination against minority groups, among other issues.

Emily Patton

Emily Patton

Emily Patton, the Virginia outreach coordinator for the Women's March on Washington, said the energy she felt on Saturday could not be ignored. Patton, joined Virginians from across the state at the Virginia General Assembly to lobby local lawmakers for equal pay for women and reproductive rights.

"Here in Virginia, [women] drive the economy. I think women are starting to recognize after this election and all the rhetoric and everything that's gone on with it, we're really recognizing our power," Patton said. "We are working hard to make a plan for Virginia to make sure that Virginians continue to be engaged about all of these issues that they clearly care about because they showed up in droves to march about it and talk about it and make a big fuss about it."

Both Blackwell and Patton told CBS 6 having a civil conversation with those they disagree with is critical in our current political climate.

Note: an earlier version of this article referred to Ms. Patton as an organizer.  Her exact title has with the Women's March has been corrected.