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On January 21st, 2017 Washington, D.C. was packed with women, men, and children, all taking part in the Women’s March on Washington, a protest that started as a Facebook post and evolved into a demonstration of nearly half a million participants in the nation’s capital. The event began with a rally at 10 a.m. personalities from Scarlett Johanssen to Janelle Monae, Gloria Steinem to Cecile Richards, and many more all spoke to the crowds, preaching messages of unity and resistance in the face of the newly inaugurated President Trump (You can watch some of their speeches here.). Frustration with the rhetoric of this campaign cycle, particularly towards Trump’s campaign, sparked much unrest among many Americans, and this demonstration served as a way for these people to connect and stand together.
Since early November, I had been looking forward to the Women’s March on Washington. Thanks to the stomach flu, I was unable to go. But, it wasn’t so much the act of going to the march that I was excited about. It was what it meant for me and for so many women and men who felt discouraged by the rhetoric of this past election season. I was not old enough to vote in this election, and that made me feel particularly helpless. I found the Women’s March to be a beacon of hope — a gathering of like-minded people interested in the spreading of love, not hate.
#WhyIMarch has been trending on social media for several months now. The Women’s March has used this hashtag
as a platform for women and men to express why they feel this march matters, and why it is so important that this happens now. This movement united marchers across the country and world as they voiced their passions for standing for what they believe is right. This march was one of the biggest ever in Washington — January 21st had the second highest DC Metro ridership in history. Zero march-related arrests were made, unlike protests on Inauguration day. Sister marches happened all around the country and the globe. I (wanted to) march because I refuse to believe that hate won. I wanted to march for love, always love, and for constant movement forward. Since I was unable to actually march on Saturday, I asked some of my peers who did march the same question: Why do you march?
Former Match writer Matt Colletti (‘16), currently a freshman at American University, attended the march in DC because “women are largely mistreated not only in this country but all over the globe, and for this many individuals to have to get out there and march for equality and to be recognized as equal is ridiculous.” Collegiate student Annie Mahoney (‘19) says that “ I [marched] because I’m not satisfied with the place women and other minorities have in our society; and I can’t vote yet, so this is a way to let my opinions be heard, by being one in three million people worldwide sending the message that we’re not going away.” Mahoney voiced a concern I and other teenagers share—it is easy to feel silenced as a citizen under 18.
“The Women’s March on Washington felt somehow existential to me,” said retired Upper School English teacher Cindy Douglass of her experience. “I wanted to do my part to counter [Trump’s] message, to help the world see that his words do not represent the thoughts of all Americans. And, the fact that this government would attempt to roll back the clock on many hard-earned women’s rights is unthinkable to me. My vote was not enough, but here was one more thing I could do.”
Another friend of mine, high school senior Ronni Lee, marched in New York on Saturday. The Portland resident made her way to the East Coast to stand with all types of women and men. When asked why she marched, Lee said, “I march for solidarity with people like me and to feel empowered in a time where it’d be easy to just feel hopeless. Beyond that, reminding the Trump administration that the people have the power is something I feel is necessary… Our voices need to be heard.”
This march served as a platform for women and men of all identities and ethnicities to voice their concerns and stand together in the face of the new administration. The march may be over, but this movement has lit a fire in the hearts of those across the seven continents (yes, all seven) who want to be heard.
All photos courtesy of Eliza Goggins (’19).