Ridgefielder gives opening remarks at St. Petersburg march

Amy Pal
Amy Pal

Ridgefield artist Suzanne Benton celebrated her 81st birthday in St. Petersburg, Fla., last Saturday — in front of a 25,000-person crowd.

Benton, who spends her winters in St. Petersburg, organized the city’s Women’s Solidarity March for Social Justice and gave the opening remarks.

“When the crowd burst out singing Happy Birthday to me, I stood on the stage amazed and delighted to think that at this stage of my life I’d taken on the mantle of founder and organizer of that fantastic and complex event,” she said.

“Our brilliant team worked with enormous dedication in just six weeks, and created the biggest and best-organized Women’s March for Social Justice in all of Florida (and the largest ever in St. Petersburg),” she told The Press. “The spirit was high throughout. Our march — and all the others — energized and gave courage for the emailing, calling, and sitting in with legislators; joining organizations, working for and funding them; and relentlessly acting to preserve our democracy and the values we cherish.”

Rick Kriseman, mayor of St. Petersburg, proclaimed Jan. 21 as Women’s Rights Day in St. Petersburg.

Benton said the march’s mission was “to create an inclusive community regardless of gender, race, nationality, faith, or sexual orientation for a common vision of freedom, equality, sustainability, and social justice.”