By Sara Karlovitch
Years from now, the generations that come after us will ask us where we were on Jan. 21, 2017. They’ll wonder about what drove more than a million people to walk peacefully, hand-in-hand in the face of tyranny and fear. The words spoken around the world on Jan. 21 will live in infamy.
On Jan. 21, 2017, only a day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, 500,000 people descended on Washington to take a stand against the incoming administration’s policies. Though most of the support was directed toward women, there was also an outpouring of support for the LGBT community, Black Lives Matter, and Indigenous Rights.
The speaker lineup was top notch, with activist like Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis at the top of the ticket. Alicia Keys and Madonna performed empowering numbers and spoke about what brought them to the march. Politicians like Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) gave riveting speeches. Scarlett Johansson gave her support. The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner screamed their son’s names. Leaders of all faiths prayed for women everywhere.
Organizers initially only anticipated 200,000 marchers and planned for such. However, an estimated 500,000 showed up, bringing the city to total gridlock. Aerial photos of the Trump Inauguration show scarcely half the mall filled with spectators. Aerial photos from the march show the mall and surrounding streets completely filled with people adoring pink “pussyhats.”
500,000 puts the Women’s March on Washington alone as one of the largest protest in U.S. and Washington, D.C. history, nearly doubling Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a Dream” march.
Marchers came from all over the world. Thousands of busses poured in from all over the country, the Metro stations experienced extreme backup and the internet was flushed with pictures of entire planes full of supporters.
Catherine Stanley, from Baton Rouge, LA came to D.C. to show the world that “there are women who are standing up for the cause of equality, and not just women’s equality, but equality for everyone.”
With more than a million marchers participating in over 600 marches around the world and zero reported arrests, the Women’s March was completely peaceful. It was a testament to the power of nonviolent resistance.
The Women’s March was not just a show a show of solidarity, it was a demonstration of strength. “Losers,” especially political ones, are expected to go and lick our wounds for four years. We are expected to accept the fact that this is not “our country.” Marching on Washington sent a message to the entire world that we will not be quiet as our fellow Americans — including those not born here — are stepped on and insulted by the people who are meant to help them.
I knew before I even got on the train that morning that Jan. 21 was going to go down in history. I did, however, not expect to be moved to tears (several times) by the absolute strength, peace and solidarity exhibited by those around me. I never expected that marching would be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I feared the Women’s March would lack direction. That too many concerns and issues would try to be covered that we would be a more divided than united front. The exact opposite was the case. Though many issues were addressed, it brought the marchers closer together.
One issue is not more important than another. Injustice is injustice, no matter who it’s directed at. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “No one is free until we are all free.” No person who has known struggle or what it’s like to be marginalized or denied the basic rights they deserve can be truly free until all oppressed people are afforded the right of freedom. Until all are seen as equals, we will march as equals, united for one another.
Many academics have argued that we are in the early stages of the Fourth Wave Feminist movement. Fourth Wave Feminism focuses on all women and all issues that affect women. This movement has existed on the Internet since its widespread public use. However, I would not be surprised if, years from now, the Women’s March is seen as the first physical manifestation of this idea.
It can be easy to ignore a group because they are small in number. But when we come together, when we hold hands in strength and solidarity, we can never be ignored.
As marchers walked towards the White House, they chanted “Donald Trump, we’re here to stay, welcome to your first day!” By far, the most on-the-nose chant of the day (and that’s including “He won’t build a wall, his hands are too small!”). I couldn’t help but smile. This was just day one and a movement has started in full force.
Who knows what the future holds. The marchers and what they stood for were most definitely heard today. The people who are normally marginalized stood tall, the voiceless were heard and the invisible were seen. A movement this powerful can only grow from here. There is incredible strength in this unity. Silence is not an option.
So, President Trump, how was your first day?
Featured Photo Credit: Protesters as far as the eye can see, with seemingly no end. (Heather Kim/Bloc Photographer)
Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.