On January 21st, 2017, millions of people across the U.S. and the globe participated in the Women’s March, taking to the streets to spread the message that women’s rights are human rights. What started out as protest planned for D.C. blossomed into a global movement, and I was fortunate to be able to attend the march in New York City along with approximately 500,000 other protesters.
The march was my first protest experience, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The energy of the march was palpable even before I arrived in the city. As I was standing on the platform with my friends waiting for the train to New York, I was surrounded pink-hatted, sign-bearing women, men and children all on their way to the march. An hour-long train ride later, I was at Penn Station, again finding myself in an enormous crowd of people headed to the protest. (To get an idea of just how many people were there: the line for the women’s restroom in the station was at least one hundred people long, and nearly everyone was wearing a pink hat.)
My friends and I followed the crowd for the 10 blocks from Penn Station to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, the starting point of the march. I have never in my life seen so many people in one place as I did walking along First Avenue on Saturday. Several blocks before the official starting point of the march, there were already so many people that the most I could move at one time were a few steps before I had to stop and wait several minutes for the crowd to get moving again. It was one of those "hurry up and wait" kinds of situations. Every few minutes, the crowd would erupt in cheers and everyone waved their signs in the air.
As we moved slowly along the route, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of pride for the hundreds of thousands of people who cared enough about equality and tolerance and diversity to spend hours and hours on their feet in the cold marching for what they believed in. It was absolutely incredible to see so many people from such different backgrounds come together to peacefully advocate for a common cause.
Days later, I am still so moved by the sheer number of people who turned out to support each other and show the new administration that we will not sit quietly and accept the things we think are wrong. Though the Women’s March is over, this is only the beginning of the fight for equality and advocacy. We can’t just sit back now thinking that we’ve done our part by marching and that the work is done. It is our job as citizens to continue to be informed and active, using the Women’s March as a jumping off point. For starters, the Women’s March is furthering the movement they started with 10 Actions for the First 100 Days. This is a campaign to keep people involved in politics beyond the March through small actions like writing to your senators about issues that you think are important. In addition to those actions, it is important to make an effort to stay informed through reliable news sources. Finally, donate either your money or your time through volunteer work to organizations working for causes you care about. Every little bit helps, even if it just means signing an online petition that pops up on your Facebook feed.
Lead Image Credit: Kyra Frank