On Saturday, Jan. 21st, 2017, the Women’s March on Washington organized millions of individuals committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion to march in solidarity in local cities. The goal was to understand women’s rights as human rights. It has been reported that this international movement has galvanized people to defend women’s rights, as opposed to protest President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
I will not lie, I had my reservations about attending the march. I often find myself questioning the effect of protests such as these; if no social change arises from this demonstration, then what is the point? Other than witnessing and confirming that there are other individuals who share my similar views, if social change is not an outcome from this event, I believe my time should have been spent elsewhere. I did not attend the march with any expectations, and I think that made my experience more extraordinary.
When Trump was elected, many civilians feared their future. This march showed people of different identities supporting one another, and broadcasted unheard voices. The passion and support I witnessed people express for one another needs to be applied to humans’ daily lives. The energy at the march needs to be a part of everyday interactions between individuals, especially individuals who have different ideologies, or are ignorant to social issues.
It was empowering to see the signs, posters, flyers, and people of all identities support each other. It was empowering to witness iconic feminists, such as Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Janet Mock, take the stage and voice their concerns. But to me, I think it would have been more powerful to hear from people who are not as famous. I feel that this could have improved the march, and allowed protesters the chance to connect on an interpersonal level with common folks who share similar views.
Although I was nervous for me and my friend’s safety, I laced my sneakers and put on my Nasty Woman cap. I drove from Denison University with over 200 members of the community. There were six buses full of students, professors, and faculty who left campus around 2 a.m. I was pleasantly shocked by the excitement people showed about attending. Including myself, most students ignored the fact that they had work to complete before classes on Monday to spend their weekend representing communities they identify with, and standing in solidarity to those of which they don’t.
I experienced a mix of emotions: anger, frustration, hopelessness, pride, unity. In the beginning, I felt hopeless about the future of our country. Seeing so many faces protesting made me realize how many humans are extremely hurt by this election. But my feelings changed as the day’s events continued.
Standing in the crowds and talking to people I will most likely never encounter again had the largest impact in turning my fear of crowds to hopeful pride for our future leaders. I realized that the march symbolizes the change people want to see. Now that it has happened, it needs to continue. Actions by higher institutional powers needs to push for social change. I think funding needs to be placed in programs, initiatives, and organizations that operate to improve living conditions for people of color, women, disabled bodies and others who are hurt by this election.
According to the Women’s March on Washington website, over 1 million people travelled to the District of Columbia to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. In addition to this demonstration, there were over 673 Sister Marches or solidarity marches organized all over the world, not just the United States. Quite possibly the largest protests in U.S. history, it was reported that at least 4.8 million people marched in solidarity nationally that day.
In the end, I was lucky enough to be one of the individuals to travel to D.C. that day, and march in solidarity with my allies. As an undergraduate, African American female, I attended the march because I felt it was my duty to represent my identity, as well as others similar to myself. The future is a hazy maze of possibilities, but I’m feeling hopeful change I can support will arise.