On January 21, 2017 close to 5 million individuals around the world became unified. They joined together physically and mentally with one mission in mind–to stand together in solidarity with each other for the protection of their rights, safety, health, families, and recognizing that their vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of their country.
The Women’s March was the largest one-day protest in history.
Originally the event began as a Facebook page created the day of the election by Teresa Shook who initially invited 40 of her friends to join her in marching down Washington D.C. in protest of Donald Trump.
The next morning Shook woke up to 10,000 people who had clicked “attending” on her page. Following Shook, Bob Bland, a New York fashion designer, took to her own Facebook event in hopes of expanding Shook’s work. The two women joined together and brought to life The Women’s March on Washington.
With help from Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour the women became unstoppable. They had a large number of members on board with them to make the dream become a reality, and without a doubt, it did. But, it didn’t come easy. The women had to hurdle many obstacles in order to ensure the march would actually take place. Additionally, the organizers first received backlash regarding the protest when it was originally named the “Million Women March”, a protest that already took place in 1997 for the rights of African American women. This is when the name was then changed to “Women’s March on Washington”.
Although stated that the protest was not officially a U.S. election-specific protest, it was strategically planned to occur the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated into office. Men and women wanted to ensure that their fight was not over, their voices were still going to be heard, and that they were not going to let their rights be undermined.
With 673 marches across the world, it was impossible not to listen. Protesters chanted up and down the streets yelling “love trumps hate”, “this is what democracy looks like”, and much more. But, if their chanting wasn’t loud enough, in Washington D.C. alone there were 24 designated speakers who voiced the unity principles of the march, and empowered the people to stay active and stand up for what they believe in. The unity principles specifically identified with the march related to: ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice. (To read more in depth on the unity principles of the women’s march, read the full PDF accessible on the official women’s march website.)
Among the huge crowd celebrities rallied with the people demonstrating their constitutional rights while bringing more publicity to the events. Miley Cyrus used the march as a platform to bring more awareness to her non-profit organization, The Happy Hippie Foundation, which shares common aspirations as the Women’s March. John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Chelsea Handler, Katy Perry, Cher, and Madonna were also among the stars present.
In North Carolina three “sister marches” took place in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh. Organizers announced that in Raleigh 17,000 people participated in the march starting at City Plaza in downtown continuing to Moore Square from 11 a.m. to 1 .pm. Men, women, children, and pets all packed the streets holding signs, yelling (or barking) chants, and bonding over their common views.
Yazmin Battee, a Leesville Junior, joined the 17,000 protesters on Saturday morning.
“I went to the march because I wanted to participate in something that would make a difference. I know that the reason I have a right to do anything is because women before me stood up for what they believe in and I appreciate their sacrifice– so I made one, too. Being there was really moving, too, because everyone there was supportive of one another, and just wanted to see their cause be recognized. I went with my mom, my best friend and her mom and her mom’s close friend and I was just surrounded by powerful women who wanted to be heard and I couldn’t imagine not being there,” said Battee. Being only a 17-year-old girl unable to vote, Battee still felt the need for her voice to be heard in order to possibly create a change in time to come. But she wasn’t even the youngest one there. Babies pushed in strollers, toddlers held on the shoulders, and pre-teens all joined the march accompanying their parents and shaping our future generation.
Allison Garrell, a Leesville senior, traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the main event.
“Actually being in DC was a wonderful experience. There were so many people above the estimated 200,000 that the march was at a standstill when the route became available to walk. The million people were too big for the two mile long route,” said Garrell. “The signs and the environment were really great. Everyone felt empowered and it was so exciting seeing so many people of different races, genders, and ages all gathered for the cause. There were so many people that the cell phone lines jammed and there was no way to contact the supporters and friends at home.”
Even with jammed phone lines, this didn’t stop those unable to make it to the marches.
Jake Scarlett, a Leesville senior, did not attend the Women’s March but supported many of his friends who participated.
“Across the country, millions of women and men joined together in an unprecedented way. The historic Women’s March united people of all walks of life to stand up for the human rights of women across the globe. Our country is looked upon as the leader of the free world, and when our government infringes upon the rights of half our population, it is crucial that we can link arms and stand up for what is right. Moving forward, all people of our country need to stand together as one to make sure that our country stays diverse, beautiful, and free,” said Scarlett.
Being a male, Scarlett is seen as a great contributor to the movement. It lets other men across the world see that supporting women and this protest does not lessen one’s “masculinity” but actually builds their respect among peers because they are able to stand up for what they believe in and make a difference.
As the gap between the march and the present widens, supporters of the Women’s March are still pressing their beliefs and ensuring the protest does not die out. Currently they are campaigning “10 Actions for the First 100 days”. Every 10 days they plan to take action on an issue cared about.
To join the campaign or donate to the cause visit the official Women’s March website.