Hana woman who created march feels elated, joyful but not famous

A post-election Facebook post led to more than 600 gatherings worldwide

Teresa Shook of Hana, known as the founder of the Women’s March movement, is seen speaking on a big screen to the crowd in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Photo courtesy Teresa Shook

It seemed unimaginable that a Hana grandmother’s Facebook event would ignite a movement that led to more than 600 marches around the world and more than a million people speaking out against President Donald Trump on Saturday — the day after his inauguration.

Citizens held marches in places like Maui, Los Angeles, Paris, London, even Hana. However, in the nation’s capital, some 500,000 people — possibly more — showed up for the March on Washington, including the fire-starter herself.

“I’m still reeling from the excitement,” Teresa Shook said Saturday from her hotel room in Washington, D.C. “I’m exhausted in a good way. I’m still processing it emotionally. It was overwhelming.”

Dubbed the Women’s March on Washington, the event welcomed people from across the country as well as celebrities including as Madonna, Janelle Monae, Scarlett Johansson and iconic feminist Gloria Steinem. Even Shook felt like a celebrity at times during the march and is commonly referred to as the “founder of the movement.”

“I don’t feel famous,” she laughed. “I feel, I don’t now how to explain. Elated — joyful about the people who are supporting who we are as a nation. That part touches my heart.”

Married Haiku couple Deborah Viel (left) and Caron Barrett participate in Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Photo courtesy Deborah Viel

While she shied away from the word “famous,” Shook did have to use her notoriety to get through the swarming crowds of people. When trying to get to the center stage to speak to the crowd, she had to tell people who she was and the sea eventually parted along with some help from others.

“I had a minute to speak. I told them I was the Facebook person and everyone cheered,” she said.

Shook thanked everyone for showing up and thanked the national Women’s March team for making the event a reality. She also gave a “shout-out” to Hawaii and her family, including her four grandchildren.

“I thanked my granddaughters for giving me the inspiration to stand up for them because I want girls to grow up and have all the same opportunities as men,” she said. “I want all people to have the same rights and equality.”

Following her speech, some people cried and reached over the railings to hug her. Others asked to pose for pictures with them and told her how grateful they were to her.

Teresa Shook

The only regret the retired lawyer had was the length of her stay in Washington, D.C. Shook made arrangements to stay only three nights at the same time she set up the Facebook page.

“I wanted to be able to go on and tell people, ‘Just buy your ticket, don’t wait,’ “ she said.

Shook never dreamed of the of response she would receive, and figured she would march regardless of the crowd size. She told Facebook members not to worry about the permit for the rally because they would work on it as time went on.

“I made it a really short trip because I didn’t know,” she said. “Now I wish I had made it a little longer.”

About 70 people from Hawaii joined Shook at the event, including married Haiku couple Deborah Viel and Caron Barrett. They recognized Shook’s initial spark of the march.

A Hawaii delegation that included Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz carries signs that proclaimed wahine power and aloha for all at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

“What she has done from the remote legions of Hana to make this happen is just amazing,” Barrett said. “She made a global impact on our Earth, and I don’t even know what kind of words to use for that.”

Viel and Barrett had their own reasons for attending the march, citing racism, bigotry and sexism that they feel the Trump administration represents. They hope to bring more awareness worldwide and back at home in their event, Wahine Week, which empowers women and their families with a music festival. They held their first event last summer.

“I think it’s just going to get bigger and better with what’s going on right now,” Barrett said.

The couple would be hard-pressed to experience another event like the one in Washington, though.

“It was fantastic,” Viel said. “I have been so depressed since the election and I felt like I got to lay down that burden just by being here. I’ve never seen this kind of crowd before. I’ve never participated in a march like this.”

Shook said that Saturday was only the first day and that the work starts now. She said people are more in tune to the issues and know to take action immediately if something is not going the way they like.

Citizens need to be vigilant, stand in solidarity, flood the phone lines and support noble organizations, she added.

“They have to make it really uncomfortable for this administration,” she said.

Shook was humbled by Saturday’s marches around the world and was filled with gratitude.

She has shown that the next movement could really start anywhere.

“I’m just anyone and anyone can make something happen,” she said. “So don’t think it has to be up to someone else. No matter where you live just do something. I had no idea this would be like this, but I did something.

“I think it’s a call to action for all of us.”

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.


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