By: Kiley Roach
On January 21, 2017, millions of women marched in cities all across the nation. They drew up signs, they wore pointed, hot pink hats, and they chanted, “This is what democracy looks like.” The first annual march drew national attention for its coverage of a multitude of issues, including reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ issues, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and more. The march was primarily organized in response to the election of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump. It carried a strong anti-Trump tune, taking place on the day after his inauguration.
Today marked the third anniversary of the women’s march. While the primary message of the first march was anti-Trump, the focus of this year’s national rally was less focused and far more contested. The New York Times covered the controversy that proved incredibly divisive in the march’s planning. Notes of anti-Semitism, poor weather conditions, and high costs of attendance likely attributed to the significantly smaller crowd sizes.
This was my first march, ever. Every other time there was a march that I deeply wanted to attend, for various reasons, I was unable to. As a person who considers herself an advocate for social justice, I have always felt deeply insecure about my lack of experience in peaceful protest. I have always felt very strongly that activism is a central part of our First Amendment rights, and is the core of democratic principles. It felt like an awakening to take part in the free exercise of that right today.
I should not have been shocked to see the streets as fortified as they were during the march. Military-grade tanks blocked street entrances. Police cars lined the surrounding blocks. Officers were armed and ready to intercept any threat and neutralize any potential hostility, whether that be from the participants of the march or of counter-protesters. I should have expected to be on guard, but I wasn’t.
I was purely enthralled by the energy of the crowd. I was taken back by the implied comradeship that I felt with the other women that surrounded me. There was often triumphant music playing behind me, or speakers enunciating inspiring words in a microphone. There were iterations of chants, light rain, and bright pink hats from corner to corner. There was anger, admittedly. But more importantly, there was hope. There was a universal fiery spirit and craving for justice. Needless to say, this will not be my last match.