History Center plans to archive posters, history of Orlando women's rally

Museums around the world preserving items from 650 sister marches

History museums around the United States are documenting the massive turnout Saturday to the Washington Women’s March and sister events including the grassroots rally at Lake Eola park.

Thousands of people came out to the event at the park amphitheater Saturday afternoon carrying bright signs and flags with political calls to action and messages of women’s empowerment. Gricel Fernandez, co-event organizer, told News 6 the Orlando Police Department estimated about 10,000 people were at the park for the event.

In Washington, D.C. 470,000 people flooded the National Mall for the Women’s March, the day before an estimated 160,000 people attended the same space for President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

The Washington Women's March was planned as a call for action on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equal rights, equal pay, environmental issues and other human rights issues.

 As people left the D.C. march Saturday, they placed thousands of protest signs on the National Mall and in front of the White House.

The Smithsonian National Museum said their political history curatorial team collected signs on the mall after the inauguration and the march.

Museums around the county and the world quickly followed, saying they would document some of the 650 sister events held across the country with an estimated 5 million people attending combined.

Organizers for the Central Florida Women’s Rally posted to Facebook on Tuesday asking attendees for poster and photo submissions for the Orange County History Center’s archive to document the rally.

Since the post went up, more than 30 people have responded saying they would submit their handmade posters or photos.

Now the history center will have to select the ones to preserve.

Orange County Regional History Center Chief Curator Pam Schwartz said they are still learning through the new method of curating with the help of social media. The history center also used social media to archive items after the Pulse shooting.

[PHOTOS: Central Florida Women's Rally at Lake Eola]

Schwartz said the history center plans to collect photos of physical items, then select about 10 from the local rally and a few from people who traveled to D.C. from Central Florida.

This week the Orlando event organizers, Fernandez and Autumn Huff Garick, will meet with Schwartz to give an oral history of the rally. The center will also speak with a few women from Brevard County who participated in the Washington March.

"We want to get experiences from the women who went and what that means to Central Florida," Schwartz said.

Although there are no immediate plans to display the women's rights event archive, the first mission of the history center is to preserve items for the future and to educate people about past events, Schwartz said.

"A hundred years from now people aren't going to have their posters," she said. "We collect to preserve."

Schwartz said she wasn't surprised to learn that many people carried items at the rally Saturday in remembrance of the 49 people killed at Pulse nightclub June 12.

The rally and events across the nation have similar underlying themes of unity, she said, just like Orlando came together after the mass shooting at the gay nightclub on Latin night.

"Pulse is very fresh to us," she said. 

"The nation has moved on," Schwartz said, but Central Florida will not.

One hundred years from now, people will be able to turn the Orange County Regional History Center to learn about Central Florida's role in the women's movement.

"It's an interesting lesson in history; we learn from the past and the past affects the future," Schwartz said.

About the Author: