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Women's March Kern County to unite community virtually this year

Like many events over the last year, the Women’s March Kern County will go virtual, but don’t let the format deter you. Organizers are committed to bringing the community together in a session packed with activists, writers, performers and more on Saturday.

Kimberly Kirchmer, co-executive director of the march, said the top priority was getting the word out that the event, which has grown each year since the inaugural local march in 2018, was still happening.

"It’ll be a learning experience for us," Kirchmer said of bringing the march to Zoom and the march's YouTube and social media pages.

Organizers are grateful to have the help of Rebecca Worley, artistic director of Bakersfield Community Theatre, which has presented a number of shows virtually during the pandemic.

One of the event's biggest messages is a reminder for viewers that they are supported locally, even as they work from home, help their children with distance learning and just miss gathering together.

"We want them to feel like they are part of a larger community," Kirchmer said. "The feeling of isolation this year has been especially challenging."

"This is your community. These are your people. We want to get a sense of camaraderie, that common bond, the thread that connects our humanity, to be feeling that even though it has been virtual."

Kirchmer said it was tough to refocus, knowing that the march would likely have to be virtual after hearing the Rose Parade, another January event held in Pasadena, was canceled this summer.

"The last four years I have been hard at work with a community of women (planning). It's a real void. For anyone and everyone who has had to cancel an event, there is this sense of loss. I empathize with them."

While the U.S. is in a far different place than when the first national Women's March took place in Washington, D.C., in 2017, Kirchmer said there are still people on both sides and organizers hope people can converse and find understanding.

"We still want to be able to speak up with courage about what we believe in but it's a fine line to walk, to speak and listen with empathy."

"I'd like for them to come with an open and present mind, to listen to the messages. Listen to what is being said now and find ways that they can apply what they are hearing. Learn to lead with hope and lead with courage."

Bringing that message is a great lineup of speakers and performers that includes:

Crimson Skye, singer-songwriter and activist who has been a key performer at the Kern County Women’s March since 2018, also performing at Bakersfield Pride for the last three years and multiple Bernie Sanders campaign events.

Raji K. Brar, chief operating officer of family-owned Countryside Market & Restaurants, member of the CSUB Foundation Board and co-founder of the Sikh Women’s Association who has been a keynote speaker for the Central Valley SBDC Awards, KCHCC Business Awards and the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference.

NaTesha Johnson, the master of ceremonies of last year's march is an architect of change in her hometown, founder/owner of event production and management company Upside Productions LLC and was recently elected the first Black female president of the Fox Theater.

Ivy A.M. Cargile, an assistant professor of political science at Cal State Bakersfield whose research focuses on the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. context.

Audrey Chavez, community activist, founder of Bakersfield's AIDS Project and co-owner of Martin's Meats and Deli.

Olivia Garrison, educator, LGBTQIA+ rights activist and creator/organizer of the Oleander Pride event.

Inara Cruz-Boone, an artist, coder and activist for social justice, the now-eighth-grader at Downtown Elementary was the youngest marcher on the WMKC bus to Women’s March Los Angeles in 2017. She will present the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of her hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Attorney Xochitl Garcia.

Annis Cassells, a poet, writer, life coach and teacher who contributed to last year's social justice anthology "ENOUGH 'Say Their Names …' Messages from Ground Zero to the WORLD," featuring photography and artwork from Black Lives Matter protests held around the U.S.

Rev. Nancy Bacon, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, certified interfaith spiritual director and active with global ministries in Tijuana and Uganda, supporting women, children and LGBTQ people.

Verda Varner, a former special educator and cheer coach, performer and a longtime activist — including campaigns for the civil rights movement, Vietnam War protests, Equal Rights Amendment and, later, Take Back the Night and V-Day — who was a featured speaker at the inaugural Women's March Kern County in 2018.

Donnée Patrese Harris, a novelist, publisher, speaker and vice president of Writers of Kern.

Kelsey Morrow, performer, music teacher and activist.

Tahlua Goosby, an associate clinical social worker and motivational speaker, founder of Real Talk with Big Sis official and Manifest Destiny.

Linda Haggerty, retired educator and co-founder of Kern Welcoming and Extending Solidarity to Immigrants (KWESI).

Amber Navran, an L.A.-based producer, singer and woodwind player, who is a member of the neo-soul trio Moonchild and also performs as a musical guest on musical project.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.