CHARLESTON — The Coles Progressives group continued its push for abortion rights with a second rally on Saturday, with the possibility of more rallies and branching out into other forms of activism in the future.
More than 40 people attended the rally at the Coles County Courthouse, and several gave speeches encouraging involvement in the abortion-rights movement.
Silver Damsen, co-chair of Coles Progressives, was happy with the turnout for the rally, saying it's hard to tell how many people will come out in a small town.
"All we can do is what we can do," Damsen said.
Damsen, who helped organize the previous abortion rights rally held by the Coles Progressives on May 6, said it was important to her to continue that work. Her goals with both rallies were to create more impact, reach people who had not been reached before, and keep the momentum for the cause going.
Sharifa Hurtault, a junior at Eastern Illinois University and member of the school's chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, organized a rally at Eastern earlier in May and decided to attend the rally Saturday to continue their work as an abortion-rights activist.
"It really requires repetition, you know, that is kind of how things move forward," Hurtault said. "The Civil Rights Movement didn't happen in one day. They didn't just do one march. It was an entire collection of actions and writing letters and all sorts of things they were doing that all came together and cultivated change."
Hurtault said they hope to expand beyond Eastern's campus and join forces with other groups.
"We're talking about collaborating, even going outside of the Charleston area, getting organizers from Champaign and doing a march, writing letters and stuff like that," Hurtault said.
Hurtault said they plan to spend the summer getting involved however they can.
"I have the free time. School is out and I feel like I can't just give myself an excuse," Hurtault said. "I can't say one thing, like, 'oh guys, we need to do this,' and then not live that truth in the same way. I want to keep true to my word. If I can, I will, and I could, so I did. If you see me again, don't be surprised."
Hurtault said they plan to continue their activism to honor the work previously done for abortion rights.
"I'm committed to this because so many people in the past have been committed to it," she said. "They gave their life to it and it just feels like I'm honoring them, I'm honoring myself and I'm honoring future generations."
The youngest activist in the crowd was 1-year-old Juniper Cisney, accompanied by her mother, Jacquelyn Cisney.
Jacquelyn Cisney said she came out to the rally because she wants children to be born into homes where they are wanted and loved, not forced into homes due to state laws.
"I've heard a lot of people talk about how children are raised, but they don't talk about what you bring the children into, you know," Jacquelyn Cisney said. "There's just nothing good that comes out of forcing anyone to do anything. Especially not mothers and children."