Shortly after Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, some Winona residents will come together for their own inauguration event.
“It’s a chance for people to connect and feel a sense of camaraderie and solidarity,” said Jean Lauer, who is organizing “The People’s Inauguration” — scheduled for Jan. 20 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Broken World Records in Winona.
“We want to provide an alternative to the overall heavy feeling that many people have right now,” she said. “We want to create hope and lighten the spirit of the day a little bit.”
Trump will take the oath of office early that afternoon in Washington, concluding what has been a turbulent exchange of power between President Barack Obama and the president-elect. Lauer said her gathering is, in part, intended to restore feelings of empowerment and optimism among people here.
Attendees are encouraged to wear symbols that exhibit their values and to dress up as their favorite American heroes and heroines.
They’ll have the opportunity to take a citizen’s oath, to read a poem or sing a song, and to discuss political issues that matter to them.
“There are rights that we’ve been taking for granted that we’ll have to fight for again,” Lauer said. “A lot of young people might not even realize that we had to fight for them in the first place.”
Lauer said all people are welcome, that the gathering is nonpartisan and not associated with a political party. She said she got the idea at a recent meeting of Move to Amend — a coalition seeking a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United — though next week’s gathering is independent from any formal group or institution.
“It’s just people concerned about politics,” she said.
Lauer said she and her husband, Gene, are trying to bring a Move to Amend affiliate to Winona, which would likely result in more community events like this one.
It could come at no better time, she said, for groups that have received threats and unkind words from Trump, both on the campaign trail and in the weeks after his surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.
“People with disabilities, people of color and certain religions … there are a lot of scared people,” she said.
And because the defense of constitutional rights is at the core of her efforts, Lauer said, she hopes that people across the political spectrum will see the value in her message.
“I’d like for us to find some common ground,” she said. “We all have human needs that we need to protect.”
“We want to provide an alternative to the overall heavy feeling that many people have right now.” Jean Lauer, organizer of “The People’s Inauguration”