Monday, January 23, 2017

How a longtime Republican from Appalachian Pa. ended up at the Women's March on Washington

Joanne Barr marching on Saturday
in Washington D.C. (Post photo by Terrence McCoy) 
Joanne Barr, 54, is rural, white, and until recently, a lifelong Republican, the perfect combination to support President Donald Trump. But on Saturday the Williamsport, Pa. resident was among the thousands participating in the Women's March on Washington to protest the Trump inauguration, Terrence McCoy reports for The Washington Post. Her daughter, Ashley, who also switched from Republican to Democrat, joined her on the trip.

It seemed that most of the protesters were "from Hillary Clinton’s America," large metropolitan or smaller college towns, McCoy writes. "But there were some women, though far fewer in number, who departed the America that fueled the rise of Trump, and this is the America of Williamsport. Located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale formation, Williamsport is a mountainous town of 30,000 residents in central Pennsylvania whose economy and culture "have long been tethered to the vagaries of hard industry—first lumber, then manufacturing, then natural gas—and it anchors a county that is 92 percent white and went 71 percent for Trump,"

Barr, who manages a hardware store, which exclusively employs and caters to white men, "grew up wanting only to marry a man who would take care of everything, and that’s exactly what she got. Bill was everything she was not: confident, effervescent, assertive. He owned two hardware stores and properties across the city, and they raised three children in a big, showy house in a nice part of town. He said he always knew best, and she always believed him, even when he told her not to worry about all of his empty prescription pill bottles and frequent nose bleeds and increasingly erratic behavior. For years she found a way to excuse everything he did, until one night in September 2006, when 'he punched her in her face with a closed fist,' according to the criminal complaint, and told her 'he would ‘kill her’ if she called the police.”

Barr, who said if it had been a few years ago she would have had a Trump sign on her lawn, comes from a family that has always voted Republican, "as had Bill, before he died of a heart attack in 2009 at age 52," McCoy writes. "Barr did, too. But the campaign stirred so many questions, not only about her community but also about herself. How, when her son had struggled with mental illness, could people support someone who mocked a disabled man? How, when she had often felt small in her life, could people cheer someone who demeaned women? Was it Williamsport that had changed? Or was it her?"

"So a few months ago, she took an I’m With Her mug into the hardware store and put up a sign saying 'No Sexism' after hearing customers say degrading things about Hillary Clinton," McCoy writes. "She argued with her boyfriend, who called Barr a 'radical feminist.' She switched her registration from Republican to Democrat and got a tattoo, her first, saying, 'Rewrite an ending or two for the girl that I knew.'”

1 comment:

Andrea Spiritos said...

I am hoping to get in touch with Joanne Barr.
I can be reached at
You can learn about me at
Thank you.