With a theme of "We Will Rise," about 75 people, mostly women, came out on perhaps the winteriest day of the winter so far -- with a bit of wind, a temperature in the mid-teens, and snow -- to Jackson Square this morning for the local version of Women March.
On a day when Buffalo organizers canceled their march, Genesee County's women's rights supporters rallied each other to do better and help each other.
"We don’t all have to be leaders but we each need to be participants," said Diane Kastenbaum, the keynote speaker.
Born and raised in Batavia, Kastenbaum moved away from her hometown as a young adult and returned seven years ago, going to work for the family business and eventually running for Congress against the now-indicted Chris Collins in 2016.
When she returned, she said, she found some irregularities in the family business and when she pressed the accountant and the attorney for information and documents, she met resistance.
She suspected the resistance was due, at least in part, to gender bias, she said, even though she was a stockholder and board member in the company.
Eventually, after continuing to press the issue, she staged a boardroom coup and was appointed CEO.
In 2016, she said, when she told a business colleague, a male colleague, that she was going to challenge Collins for the NY-27 seat, she said the man asked "Are you crazy?" He wondered, she said, how she could run her business and run for Congress.
"Would he have said that to a man? I don't think so," Kastenbaum said.
To fight back against sexism and discrimination, Kastenbaum said, women need to get involved. They need to join organizations and become board members, whether arts councils, civic group, nonprofits, or business organizations, women need to participate.
"Get yourself on some board and then run for office yourself," Kastenbaum said.
Women getting involved will make a difference, she said.
"If you make that promise to me, together we will rise," Kastenbaum said. "And if you make that promise to yourselves, together we rise. And if you make that promise to your daughters and your granddaughters and your nieces and your mothers, together, we rise.
"And if you make that promise to your sisters here today, who will bear witness, together, we rise. And if you make that promise to take the power into your own hands, women, together we rise."
The crowd gathered in Jackson Square then broke into a call-and-response chant.
After Kastenbaum spoke, the activists marched down Center Street, to Main Street, to City Centre to conclude the rally.