Last January, the Binghamton Women’s March drew over 3,000 protesters to Downtown Binghamton. This year, the march’s route and message will be different, but organizers are hoping for the same enthusiastic turnout.

Local residents and the Southern Tier Chapter of Citizen Action of New York met to discuss the second annual march, set for Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

At the planning meeting on Tuesday, a new location, route and theme were discussed. The theme for next year’s march is “Be Heard” and was chosen due to the recent discussion in the media of sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender and race.

Amber Johnson, community organizer for Citizen Action, said the second march is meant to have a central message, instead of just a reaction to injustice.

“Last year it was reactionary and this year we want to be more organized and make sure the voices that are usually muted are the voices that we hear on that day,” Johnson said.

Citizen Action was principally responsible for the organization of the march in the city of Binghamton earlier this year. The march in Binghamton was in solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington, a response to the political climate following the presidential election.

Last year’s march began at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on Court Street in Downtown Binghamton and ended three blocks away at the Broome County Courthouse. At the courthouse, local leaders delivered speeches on political engagement and community issues.

Mary Clark, regional director of Citizen Action, said that she thinks the last march created a greater incentive for people to participate in activism.

“[The march] has engaged people and made them aware that they can’t just sit home anymore,” Clark said.

The next march will have a different route, from the Martin Luther King Jr. statue, down Court and Chenango streets, to the United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton. There, local leaders and organizers will give speeches in relation to the “Be Heard” theme.

The church was chosen to accommodate a large crowd that could filter in and out of the building. Last year’s march lasted three hours, but this year’s will be closer to one, in anticipation of the cold weather. At the church, community members will be able to walk through the church rooms and meet with leaders from local organizations to foster their activism to the specific goals of the organizations.

March organizers obtained a permit to allow marchers to walk on the sidewalk for last year’s march. Since more people showed up than expected, obtaining permits for marching on the street to allow for the redirection of traffic and the adequate amount of police presence in advance were discussed at the planning meeting.

The March Planning Committee plans to meet for a few more sessions tentative to what is needed for the march. At the next meeting, volunteers, speakers and outreach to other local organizations and community members will be discussed. The next March Planning Committee meeting will take place at the Citizen Action office Downtown on Dec. 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.